Worth Knowing: August 2020

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Our goal is to wade through the endless reports and articles and highlight the information you need to make better decisions and heighten your competitive advantage.

Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another.

G.K. Chesterton

Covid on the rise in America’s colleges

Colleges in at least 19 states have seen a rise in Covid cases. Many have cancelled or delayed in-person classes. According to the NYT, more than 6,600 hundred cases of Covid have been linked to college campuses. We can expect that number to rise. Of special concern on many campuses are the social gathering practices of resident fraternities and sororities.

Care must be taken for emotional health, too

Even as colleges focus on the physical health of their students this fall, care must be taken to care for their emotional health, too. Recent articles in the Hechinger Report and Science Daily noted that the coronavirus pandemic is taking a serious toll on student mental health and well-being. A recent survey found that 80 percent of the high school and college students surveyed are having difficulty concentrating. Nearly half are facing financial challenges, with unemployment, financial aid and successful distance learning among the concerns of young people.

Where CARES Act dollars went in Higher Ed

The Chronicle of Higher Education 2020-2021 Almanac is out and it contains some interesting information on how the dollars in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act were distributed. The Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund component of the CARES Act provided approximately $12.5 billion to colleges. Here are the 10 schools that received they most money:

  • Arizona State U= $63,533,137
  • Penn State= $54,994,846
  • Rutgers= $54,160,640
  • U of Central Florida= $51,071,250
  • Miami Dade College= $49,074,737
  • Georgia State U= $45,243,852
  • Cal State at Northridge= $44,652,328
  • Ohio State= $42,885,215
  • Cal State at Long Beach= $41,729,439
  • Cal State Fullerton= $41,021,512

If the $12.5 billion were allocated as a $100, the break down is as follows:

  • Public colleges= $72.10
  • Private colleges= $19.02
  • For-profit colleges= $8.89

Second chances

In the good news department, we have learned from NPR that nearly 6,500 current and former teachers have gotten a second chance to shed millions of dollars in unfair student debts. The educators had enrolled in the U.S. Department of Education’s TEACH Grant program, which provides grants to help aspiring teachers pay for college. In exchange, they agreed to teach a high-need subject for four years in a school that serves low-income families.

A 2018 investigation by NPR revealed that strict paperwork rules and poor program management led to thousands of qualified teachers having their grants converted to loans that had to be repaid with interest. In response, the department began a top-to-bottom review of the program and created a “reconsideration process” for any teacher who had met—or could still meet—the teaching requirements, but nevertheless had grants turned to loans. According to the department, nearly $44 million in loans turned back into TEACH Grants.

The “fact” that won’t go away

We’ve all read them and maybe even used them. They are called zombie stats, information that is repeated enough, though it has no basis in fact, just won’t die. One of the attractions of zombie stats is that they can pander to confirmation bias. If we already are inclined to believe something, zombie stats often feed that pre-disposition. As a result, we don’t always subject that “fact” to the type of scrutiny we would apply to something we do not wish to be true.

The danger, of course, is letting zombie stats influence our decisions and our communication. Not only can they mislead, but they can undermine.

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Stamats Insights is our monthly newsletter distributed to our clients and colleagues in education. Our newsletter features stories from our blog as well as other offers, resources, and events that education professionals will find helpful.


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