Monday, June 15, 2009

Ranked Colleges and Universities that Exemplify Social Inclusion

Most of elite higher education in the United States practices class warfare against classes not already richly served by these institutions. We have a large group of ranked of colleges and universities that measure themselves by class exclusive criteria like college admissions test scores, admissions selectivity, and family income. They higher educate the rich and they are proud of it. They are enriching those born into affluence—those from inherited privilege classes. They offer a country club campus atmosphere needed to attract the affluent clientele they wish to enroll. They are also largely divorced from the national challenge of higher educating the growing share of the country’s population that is low income. There are whole recruiting, testing and college ranking industries that either exist to support this class structure of higher education or profit from it.

So it is quite unusual to find ranked colleges and universities that buck this trend and are deliberately practicing social inclusion. Or more accurately, these institutions are engaged in the higher education of the growing share of the country’s population that was born into low or lower-middle income families. This population is soon to become a majority of the K-12 student population, later to become a majority of higher education enrollments, and will eventually become a majority of the adult population, parents, taxpayers, workforce and voting citizens. These socially inclusive and exemplary institutions deserve recognition for their notable efforts to reach out to students who were born into low-income families.

We use two sets of criteria to identify these institutions. Group I institutions are ranked by U.S. News as among the top 100 universities and liberal arts colleges and have notably large shares of undergraduate students with Pell Grants. Group II institutions are also ranked by U.S. News among the top 125 universities and top 125 liberal arts colleges and have increased their enrollment of Pell Grant recipients at greater rates than the national growth rate in Pell Grant recipients. Only five of these 250 colleges and universities meet this criteria of engagement.

Group I

Berea College, Berea, Kentucky. This college was founded in 1855 as the first co-educational, interracial college in the South to serve low-income students primarily from Appalachia. An applicant with a family income above $40,000 is not admissible. In 2004 87.4% of its students received Pell Grants.

Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts. In 2004 27.7% of the undergraduates at Smith were Pell Grant recipients. In that year the average Pell Grant share among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges was 12.8%. At Smith the number of Pell Grant recipients has risen from 484 in 1992 to a peak of 716 by 2002. In 2009 there were still 645 Pell Grant recipients on campus. Unfortunately these numbers have been slipping slowly but steadily since 2002.

Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Massachusetts. In 2004 24.2% of undergraduates received Pell Grants, compared to 12.8% for all top 50 national liberal arts colleges that year. The number of Pell Grant recipients at Mount Holyoke has increased from 390 in 1992 to a peak of 448 in 2002. Since then this number has declined very slightly to 432 by 2009.

University of California-Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California. In 2004 38.7% of undergraduate students at UCLA received Pell Grants. This compares to 20.0% among all U.S. News top 50 national universities that year. The number of Pell Grant recipients enrolled at UCLA has increased from 6819 in 1992 to a peak of 9686 in 2004. Between 2004 and 2009 the number of Pell Grant recipients has declined steadily to 8852.

University of California-Berkeley, Berkeley, California. In 2004 34.7% of undergraduate students at Berkeley received Pell Grants, compared to 20.0% for all top 50 “best” national universities as defined by U.S. News. The number of Pell Grant recipients at Berkeley increased from 5858 in 1992 to a record peak of 7989 by 2009.

University of California-San Diego, La Jolla, California. UC-San Diego increased its enrollment of Pell Grant recipients from 4608 in 2000 and 4680 in 2001 to 6458 in 2006 and 6817 in 2007, or by 42.9%. Since then the University has enrolled 7414 in 2008 and 8017 so far for 2009.

Group II

Between 2000+2001 and 2006+2007 the number of Pell Grant recipients in U.S. higher education institutions increased by 37.3%, from about 3.76 million to about 5.17 million students. Among the 125 “best” national universities (as defined by U.S. News and World Report), just four increased their own enrollment of Pell Grant recipients by more than 37.3%. Among the 125 “best” liberal arts colleges in the U.S. just one increased it’s own enrollment of Pell Grant recipients by more than 37.3%.

Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Harvard increased its enrollment of Pell Grant recipients from 394 in 2000 and 636 in 2001 to 763 in 2006 and 808 in 2007, or by 52.5%. The number for 2008 was 940, and so far for 2009 the number is 959.

University of California-San Diego, La Jolla, California. UC-San Diego increased its enrollment of Pell Grant recipients from 4608 in 2000 and 4680 in 2001 to 6458 in 2006 and 6817 in 2007, or by 42.9%. Since then the University has enrolled 7414 in 2008 and 8017 so far for 2009.

University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Pitt enrolled 3863 Pell Grant recipients in 2000 and 3828 in 2001. For 2006 Pitt enrolled 5080 Pell recipients, and 5719 for 2007, for an increase of 40.4%. Since then Pitt enrolled 5163 in 2008 and 4961 so far for 2009.

Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona. Arizona State enrolled 8590 Pell Grant recipients in 2000 and 8653 in 2001. Then in 2006 ASU enrolled 12,242, and for 2007 enrolled 11,783, for an increase of 39.3%. Since then ASU enrolled 11,779 Pell recipients in 2008 and 13,280 so far for in 2009.

University of Richmond, Richmond, Virginia. Richmond enrolled 184 Pell Grant recipients in 2000 and 177 in 2001. By 2006 Richmond enrolled 242 Pell recipients, and 276 in 2007. This was an increase of 43.5%. In 2008 Richmond enrolled 305, and 351 so far in 2009.

We give honorable mentions to institutions that increased their Pell Grant enrollments by 30% to 37.2% between 2000+2001 and 2006+2007. The universities are: University of Denver, Loyola University of Chicago, University of California-Davis, Illinois Institute of Technology and the University of California-Riverside. The liberal arts colleges are Ursinus College, Agnes Scott College, Randolph College, Lake Forest College and Spellman College. Complete results for all 250 institutions ranked by U.S. News are available in the December 2007 issue (#186) of Postsecondary Education OPPORTUNITY. Online Pell Grant recipient data by institution is available at:

Someday I will prepare a parallel Hall of Shame identifying the leading Class Warriors among the most Class Exclusive Gated Communities and Country Clubs. This will be a very much longer list.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

The Major Factors Influencing Federal Education Legislation

Robert Andringa prepared this list of what influenced federal education legislation in 1976 when he was minority staff director, House Committee on Education and Labor. For those of us who fancy our policy analysis as directly influencing how laws are made, this is a humbling lesson. - Tom

"The following list of major influences shaping federal education laws was put together in consultation with other Hill staff, but I take full responsibility for whatever reactions it generates! The variables are listed in the order in which I see their importance at this time.

1. Personal judgment and values of usually no more than 6-10 Congressmen and staff.

Some major bills have many issues…each issue is normally shaped and resolved by a small handful of people, later ratified by the full House and Senate…“judgments and values” are influenced by personal experience and the effect of the other items on this list.

2. Strong views of respected and trusted friends.

Each Member has a few trusted friends with knowledge in some particular area…these are friends from his hometown, experts with whom he has developed a friendship over the years, other Members, staff, etc.

3. Assumptions about the economy and budget.

These assumptions influence a Member’s interest in creating new programs or in cutting back on program authorities…also his or her sense of priorities among various educational needs.

4. Public opinion and the popular media.

Most Members do not support ideas which they feel do not have, or could not get, general public support…many shape their perceptions about educational needs by reading popular, rather than specialized, publications…the few people most involved in a legislative area do read more of the specialized newsletters and journals.

5. Strong views and efforts of major interest groups.

The education lobby is not one of strongest in Washington…yet major associations and coalitions can force consideration of issues they feel important…sometimes consensus among interest groups is important and sometimes a weakly developed consensus backfires.

6. Descriptive information about federal programs.

Most of this comes from the executive branch and a few educational associations…Members relate this to what they personally expect a program to accomplish.

7. Congressional hearings.

Attendance is often low, but “key Members” are usually present…educators often present long, dull papers full of jargon…many witnesses are not willing to be completely candid in formal, on-the-record sessions...field hearings [are] more important, although they are infrequent.

8. General Accounting Office reports and other independent reports on programs.

GAO studies get acceptance because GAO is [an] arm of the legislative branch and its studies are done in cooperation with Members…same applies to Congressional Research Service…sometimes other non-federal studies of existing federal programs are given similar credibility.

9. Policy research studies and reports.

These are often too long, full of jargon or statistics few understand…few people on the Hill have time to read such things…some studies use old data or come up with ideas Members have long since rejected…most influence from these reports must come indirectly through the other items on the list.

10. Administration views and lobby efforts.

Congress naturally puts this factor low when the majority party is different from that of the President…proposals often reflect budget constraints rather than sound educational policy…recommendations are often submitted too late in the process…recommendations of [a] technical nature to improve current programs have [a] much better success rate.

11. Program evaluation studies.

Most of these done by the U.S. Office of Education under contract…many are too late and use data that are too old…many studies try to quantify results that can not easily be quantified…most studies [are] done in isolation from other similar studies and miss the “big picture”…but there have been a few exceptions."