AirTalk for November 22, 2010

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Should a college education cost more not less?

Cal State University trustees recently approved a 15% hike in undergraduate fees. Critics of this decision argue that in order for California to have a world class education system, school should cost less, not more, and that the state should increase education subsidies. But Shirley Svorny, a professor of economics at Cal State Northridge, attacks this notion in an op-ed in today’s Los Angeles Times. Svorny contends that “the state’s prosperity rests on public policies that encourage economic activity, not on heavy subsidies to higher education.” She also says that low fees attract some underachieving students. What do you think? Should college cost more or less? Would higher tuition attract more committed students? Or should we keep tuition down and increase education subsidies for the public good?
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When it comes to trying to improve student performance in public schools, many factors come together. One of the major issues is teacher performance and how best to judge teacher effectiveness. The “value-added” approach attempts statistically to show how an individual teacher can make a difference - positively or negatively - in how students do, regardless of class size or background. Recent articles in the Los Angeles Times about this controversial method have sparked a nationwide debate, which has pitted President Obama’s Secretary of Education against teacher unions and many academics. The Los Angeles Unified School District is in the midst of asking for outside proposals to determine the most reliable way of judging teacher success. The district has gone on record that one of the components they want to include is “value-added” analysis. Is this the best way to grade teachers? Does the public have a right to see the results? What role should subjective evaluations and student performance play? Check out KPCC's interactive on educators' responses to teacher evaluations.
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