Education – Chatham Journal Newspaper http://chathamjournal.com Experience the World of Chatham County, NC Tue, 23 Jan 2018 02:59:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://i1.wp.com/chathamjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/10888465-four-newspaper-pile-isolated-on-white-background-Stock-Vector-newspaper-icon-headline-5580d7a0v1_site_icon.png?fit=32%2C32 Education – Chatham Journal Newspaper http://chathamjournal.com 32 32 Experience the World of Chatham County, NC Education – Chatham Journal Newspaper Experience the World of Chatham County, NC Education – Chatham Journal Newspaper http://chathamjournal.com/wp-content/plugins/powerpress/rss_default.jpg http://chathamjournal.com/category/living/education/ TV-G 63016882 Chatham community Library offering Microsoft Word Basics – Part 2 workshop on January 27 http://chathamjournal.com/2017/01/26/chatham-community-library-offering-microsoft-word-basics-part-2-workshop-january-27/ Thu, 26 Jan 2017 15:28:46 +0000 http://chathamjournal.com/?p=7227 Pittsboro, NC – The Chatham Community Library is offering a workshop on Microsoft Word Basics, Part 2 on January 27. Date: 02/27/2017 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM Location: Chatham Community Library 197 NC Hwy 87 N Pittsboro, North Carolina 27312…

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Pittsboro, NC – The Chatham Community Library is offering a workshop on Microsoft Word Basics, Part 2 on January 27.

In this workshop, we’ll build on the concepts we learned in the Microsoft Word Basics class.  Topics covered in this workshop include:

  • adding and removing Quick Start buttons
  • modifying line spacing
  • creating bulleted and numbered lists
  • creating tables
  • formatting columns
  • formatting margins
  • adding headers and footers
  • inserting text boxes, graphics, and symbols

We will be using Microsoft Word 2013.

Prerequisites:  Participants should have taken Microsoft Word, Part 1 or have prior basic experience with Microsoft Word.  Participants must be comfortable operating a computer, including mouse and keyboard.

This workshop is FREE and open to the public; however, class size is limited and registration is required.

Register:
Online
– (919) 545-8086
– *protected email*
– In the library

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Chatham Community Library hosts fraud prevention program on December 7 http://chathamjournal.com/2016/12/07/chatham-community-library-hosts-fraud-prevention-program-december-7/ Wed, 07 Dec 2016 22:39:11 +0000 http://chathamjournal.com/?p=6998 Pittsboro, NC – Chatham Community Library in Pittsboro will host a fraud prevention program on Wednesday, Dec. 7, at 6 pm. Detective Mike Copeland of the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office will cover the most common fraud schemes, including phone, mail,…

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Pittsboro, NC – Chatham Community Library in Pittsboro will host a fraud prevention program on Wednesday, Dec. 7, at 6 pm. Detective Mike Copeland of the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office will cover the most common fraud schemes, including phone, mail, and internet scams.  He will discuss why and how victims are targeted, how personal information is compromised, and how to protect yourself.

Copeland has been a county deputy for 13 years and is currently serving as the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office Financial Crimes Investigator. In this role, he investigates all types of financial crimes, including fraud, counterfeiting, phone scams, stolen checks, fraudulent credit card use, skimmers, elderly exploitation, and identity theft.

This free public event will take place in the Holmes Meeting Room at Chatham Community Library, located on NC 87 on the campus of Central Carolina Community College in Pittsboro.   For more information, call 919-545-8086.

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Come join the new Toastmasters club in Pittsboro http://chathamjournal.com/2016/08/04/come-join-new-toastmasters-club-pittsboro/ Thu, 04 Aug 2016 16:22:21 +0000 http://chathamjournal.com/?p=6762 By *protected email* Pittsboro, NC – I have been a member of Toastmasters for four years and am a huge fan of the organization. It’s a low cost way to work on your communication and leadership skills, meet new friends,…

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By *protected email*

Pittsboro, NC – I have been a member of Toastmasters for four years and am a huge fan of the organization. It’s a low cost way to work on your communication and leadership skills, meet new friends, and give back to the community. A new club has formed in Pittsboro that I invite you to check out. We meet each Monday at 6:30 PM at the Habitat for Humanity office on 467 West Street, Pittsboro, NC 27312. Be sure to come a little early though to meet the members and other guests.

ToastmastersWe will have a website setup soon, but you can contact me for now with questions. We suggest business casual (or just neatly dressed) for dress code, but it’s a friendly, relaxed environment. Hope to see you there!

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Chatham community library offering free computer classes in July and August http://chathamjournal.com/2016/06/25/chatham-community-library-posts-computer-class-schedule/ Sun, 26 Jun 2016 02:30:43 +0000 http://chathamjournal.com/?p=6548 Pittsboro, NC-  Chatham community library will offer a series of free computer classes in July and August.  The names, dates and times of the classes are listed below.  You can find a full description of the classes, including topics covered…

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Pittsboro, NC-  Chatham community library will offer a series of free computer classes in July and August.  The names, dates and times of the classes are listed below.  You can find a full description of the classes, including topics covered and prerequisites for attending, by visiting www.tinyurl.com/ComputerClassesCCL.

free computer classes at Chatham LibraryDrop-in Computer Assistance:  July 13, Wednesday, 4:00 – 5:00 PM

Microsoft PowerPoint, Part 1:  July 20, Wednesday, 2:00 – 3:30 PM

Microsoft PowerPoint, Part 2:  July 27, Wednesday, 2:00 – 3:30 PM

Drop-in Computer Assistance:  August 10, Wednesday, 4:00 – 5:00 PM

Microsoft Word, Part 1:  August 16, Tuesday, 3:00 – 4:30 PM

Microsoft Word, Part 2:  August 23, Tuesday, 3:00 – 4:30 PM

The Drop-In Computer Assistance sessions (July 13 and August 10) do not require registration.  For all other classes, space is limited and you must register in advance if you wish to attend.  Register online at the link above..  For more information, call 919-545-8086 or email *protected email*.

All classes take place in the computer lab at Chatham Community Library, 197 NC Hwy 87 N in Pittsboro, on the campus of Central Carolina Community College.

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Charter schools are here to stay, so deal with it http://chathamjournal.com/2016/03/04/charter-schools-stay-deal/ Fri, 04 Mar 2016 19:54:19 +0000 http://chathamjournal.com/?p=5944 By Dr. Terry Stoops Raleigh, NC – According to a report (PDF) published by the NC Department of Public Instruction, 79,575, or 5.2 percent, of North Carolina’s public school students attend a charter school in North Carolina this year.  That…

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By Dr. Terry Stoops

Raleigh, NC – According to a report (PDF) published by the NC Department of Public Instruction, 79,575, or 5.2 percent, of North Carolina’s public school students attend a charter school in North Carolina this year.  That is an increase of over 10,000 students and 0.7 percentage points compared to 2015.

While North Carolina’s 158 charter schools are physically located in only half of the state’s counties, all families have access to charters.  Students are permitted to cross county lines to attend the charter school of their choice.  In addition, the state has two virtual charter schools that allow students anywhere in the state to enroll.  As a result, Clinton City Schools is the only district that has no students within its boundaries enrolled in a charter school.  Fifteen districts have fewer than 10 charter school students, but it is a start.

The availability of charter schools is one factor behind the remarkable growth of North Carolina’s charter school sector.  Legislative Republicans removed the cap on charter schools, enacted more generous growth allowances, and gave the green light to virtual charter schools.  But I think it goes beyond that.

There is greater knowledge and acceptance of charter schools among North Carolina families, most of whom welcome educational options.  Additionally, state testing results and other metrics suggest that the academic quality of charter schools is on the rise.  Most importantly, charter schools are responsive to the unique needs of the communities they serve. Unfortunately, some communities are better served than others.

Charter schools are more popular in Region 6 than any other.  Region 6 includes Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Lincoln, and Iredell counties.  All three have significant shares of students who attend charter schools.  In Charlotte-Mecklenburg and Lincoln counties, 9.4 percent of the public school populations chose charter schools.  In Iredell County, it is 8.1 percent.  I suspect that new assignment policies in Mecklenburg County will be a boon for area charters, particularly among families who desire neighborhood schools.

Conversely, Region 7 is a charter school desert.  Only 1 percent of public school students in this region, which includes 14 counties in the northwest, attend charter schools.  Watauga County has the largest share of charter school students with only 3.5 percent.  If the demand exists, these communities should work with charter and school choice groups to begin the process of establishing high quality charter schools in the area.

Regions 2 and 4, composed of counties that stretch from Montgomery County to the coast, also have relatively small charter school market shares.  There are exceptions, however.  In Pamlico County, 16.5 percent of students attend a charter school, specifically Arapahoe Charter School.  In addition, Columbus County and the city district within it, Whiteville City, each have over 9 percent of public school students in charter schools.  Brunswick County charter schools, primarily Charter Day School, enroll an impressive 7.3 percent.

Charter schools in or near the Triangle (Region 3) attract a significant number of families. Person, Vance, Durham, and Edgecombe counties have charter school shares that eclipse 14 percent.   Chatham, Franklin, Granville, and Wilson counties have market shares that exceed 9 percent.  The charter school population in the largest county district in the state, Wake County Schools, is 5.7 percent.  Again, unpopular assignment policies may prompt more Wake County parents to consider enrolling their children in charter schools.  Given their recent comments, the Wake County school board appears to fear charters’ increasing market share.

The 22.7 percent charter school share in Halifax County, 19.5 percent share in Northampton County, 17.1 percent share in Weldon City, and 10.5 percent in Martin County drive the 4.9 percent rate in the northeastern counties that make up Region 1.  The primary factor behind charter school growth is the relatively low quality of district schools in Halifax and surrounding counties.

Finally, counties in the regions that stretch from the southwest to the Triad have charter school shares that vary considerably.  Mounty Airy City in Region 5 and Rutherford County in Region 8 have the largest shares at 9.4 percent and 11.3 percent, respectively.  Millennium Charter Academy is the excellent charter school in Mount Airy.  Rutherford County has two outstanding charter schools, Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy and Lake Lure Classical Academy.

There are many reasons to be optimistic about the future of North Carolina’s charter schools.  Without a doubt, school district officials and public school advocacy groups will continue to grouse about the number of students enrolled in charters and the funding that goes with them.  But charter school parents, students, employees, and advocates vastly outnumber them and are beginning to find the voice to champion and defend their schools of choice.

Terry Stoops is the Director of Education Studies at the John Locke Foundation

 

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Chatham County offers free Microsoft Word basics workshop http://chathamjournal.com/2016/03/01/chatham-county-offers-microsoft-word-basics-class/ Tue, 01 Mar 2016 21:59:27 +0000 http://chathamjournal.com/?p=5896 Pittsboro, NC -Learn how to use the popular text editing program, Microsoft Word.Topics covered in this workshop include: identifying key components and features of Microsoft Word 2013 typing and formatting text copying, pasting, cutting, and deleting text inserting images and clip…

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Pittsboro, NC -Learn how to use the popular text editing program, Microsoft Word.Topics covered in this workshop include:

  • identifying key components and features of Microsoft Word 2013
  • typing and formatting text
  • copying, pasting, cutting, and deleting text
  • inserting images and clip art
  • using spelling and grammar check
  • saving and printing documents
free word workshopMicrosoft Word Basics, Part 1
Date: 3/15/2016 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM
Cost: FREE (registration required)
Location: Chatham Community Library
197 NC Hwy 87 N
Pittsboro, North Carolina 27312

Prerequisites:  Participants must be comfortable operating a computer, including mouse and keyboard.

This workshop is FREE and open to the public; however, class size is limited and registration is required.

Register:
Online
– (919) 545-8086
– *protected email*
– In the library

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Central Carolina Community College participates in statewide math competition http://chathamjournal.com/2016/02/11/central-carolina-community-college-participates-in-statewide-math-competition/ Thu, 11 Feb 2016 19:36:14 +0000 http://chathamjournal.com/?p=5800 By Susan Welch Sandford, NC — Central Carolina Community College hosted a statewide math competition for North Carolina community colleges on Saturday, Nov. 14. Ten colleges participated in the competition. Forsyth Technical Community College was the first-place winner. Wake Technical…

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By Susan Welch

Sandford, NC — Central Carolina Community College hosted a statewide math competition for North Carolina community colleges on Saturday, Nov. 14. Ten colleges participated in the competition.

Forsyth Technical Community College was the first-place winner. Wake Technical Community College finished in second place, and Central Piedmont Community College took third place.

cccclogo“Our team didn’t win overall, but we had a great time at the competition,” said Kaan Ozmeral, math instructor at the CCCC Chatham Campus and one of the competition organizers.

CCCC team members were Doug Amrhein, of Chapel Hill, Jarrett Cole, of Pittsboro, Patrick Crutchfield, of Pittsboro, Stephan Kelly, of Broadway, Ian Kho, of Cary, Cameron Page, of Sanford, Tyler Rodriguez, of Sanford, Joshua Romero, of Sanford, Erik Switzer, of Spring Lake, and Cory Thomas, of Sanford.

Out of approximately 60 students, Kho tied for third highest score on the morning Calculus exam. Amrhein, Cole, Kho, and Page placed sixth out of 17 in the afternoon team competition.

The most important aspect of the competition is the opportunity to build a sense of community and confidence among the participants, according to Ozmeral.

CCCC team member Erik Switzer, who attends the CCCC Lee Campus where he is pursuing an Associate in Applied Science degree, said he is looking to transfer to N.C. State University and work on either a chemistry or chemical engineering degree.

“We studied hard for the competition and our instructors helped a lot,” Switzer said before the competition. “I’m not really nervous about the competition because I feel ready and I know it will help me prepare for a university degree.”

For more information about Central Carolina Community College’s math and science programs, visit the website at www.cccc.edu.

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More than 280,000 N.C. students choose charter, private, homeschools http://chathamjournal.com/2016/01/25/more-than-280000-n-c-students-choose-charter-private-homeschools/ Mon, 25 Jan 2016 22:35:14 +0000 http://chathamjournal.com/?p=5710 Raleigh, NC – As North Carolina nears the 20th anniversary of the law that opened the door to public charter schools in the state, 82,000 students are enrolled now in charter schools. They make up a large chunk of the…

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Raleigh, NC – As North Carolina nears the 20th anniversary of the law that opened the door to public charter schools in the state, 82,000 students are enrolled now in charter schools. They make up a large chunk of the more than 280,000 N.C. students choosing nontraditional education options.

The John Locke Foundation is highlighting these and other statistics while celebrating National School Choice Week, Jan. 24-30.

national school choice weekThe celebration also includes a speech today from the head of the school choice advocacy group Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina. PEFNC President Darrell Allison speaks at noon at the John Locke Foundation office in Raleigh.

“Whether they’re attending public charter schools, private schools, or homeschools, more and more students in North Carolina have access now to education options that meet their needs better than the traditional district public schools,” said Dr. Terry Stoops, JLF Director Research and Education Studies. “National School Choice Week marks a great time to highlight changes in public policy that will pay dividends for the state, its families, and its kids for years to come.”

“As I travel across North Carolina, parents, educators, and community members in all parts of their state make it clear to me that they want their children to have the best possible learning experience,” added Lindalyn Kakadelis, JLF Director of Education Outreach. “Increased access to school choice is making it possible for more people to meet that goal.”

North Carolina took a major step toward boosting school choice in 1996. The N.C. General Assembly approved the state’s first public charter school law that year. Twenty years later, the state’s 158 existing public charter schools enroll more than 82,000 students.

“If you grouped all charter schools together, they would form the state’s third-largest school district,” Stoops said. “Charter schools educate 5 percent of the state’s public school population today. And enrollment has roughly doubled in just the past five years.”

Charter schools operate in 59 of North Carolina’s 100 counties. As many as 16 new charter schools will open in August, Stoops said.

“Nearly half of the state’s charter schools received an A or B performance grade in 2015, compared to less than one-third of traditional district schools meeting that mark,” Stoops said. “Five of the 20 top-performing schools in the state are charter schools.”

Charter schools have achieved this success despite spending about $1,000 less per student than district schools, Stoops said. Charters also maximize the amount of personnel money spent on teachers, with 65 percent of charter school employees working as teachers. Just 54 percent of district school employees are teachers.

The most recent additions to North Carolina’s school choice menu are opportunity scholarships for low-income students and grants for students with special education needs. Both programs help parents who would struggle otherwise to afford private-school options for their children.

“Over $5 million in opportunity scholarships are helping more than 2,500 students from low-income families this school year,” Stoops said. “Many more could be helped. More than 7,700 students applied for the scholarships during the last application period. Meanwhile, another 770 students benefit this year from the special-needs grant.”

Outside of the public school system, North Carolina has the 17th-largest private school population in the United States, Stoops said. “Last year more than 97,000 students enrolled in North Carolina’s 720 private schools,” he said. “Private-school enrollment has jumped 5 percent in the last 10 years, and there are more private schools operating in the state now than at any time in the past 25 years.”

The state’s homeschool population has nearly doubled since 2004, Stoops said. “According to one estimate, North Carolina has the third-largest homeschool population in the United States, trailing only Texas and California.”

“The official count of N.C. homeschoolers eclipsed the 100,000 mark in 2015 and now stands at 107,000 students,” Stoops said. “Every county has homeschoolers, and no county had fewer than 28 homeschools last year.”

National School Choice Week should help remind state policymakers that they can take additional steps to expand parents’ choices, Stoops said. “Affirm North Carolina’s commitment to families with disadvantaged and special-needs children by investing greater resources in private-school scholarship programs,” he said. “Build on the success of North Carolina’s public charter schools by ensuring that applicable laws and regulations are fair, accommodating, and constructive.”

“Strengthen our state’s virtual schooling options by expanding access and enrollment,” Stoops added. “Safeguard the right of parents to educate their children at home by protecting them from intrusive and unnecessary regulatory requirements.”

Click here to view and here to listen to Dr. Terry Stoops discussing National School Choice Week.

For more information, please contact Dr. Terry Stoops at (919) 828-3876 or *protected email*.

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Chatham County School District seeks feedback in strategic plan development: Flight Plan 2020 http://chathamjournal.com/2016/01/20/chatham-county-school-district-seeks-feedback-in-strategic-plan-development-flight-plan-2020-2/ Thu, 21 Jan 2016 03:58:18 +0000 http://chathamjournal.com/?p=5680 Pittsboro, NC – Chatham County Schools is launching its Chatham Flight Plan 2020 Survey. The survey asks parents, students, staff, and community members about school quality, goals, initiatives, charter schools, communication, and other key topics. The results will help guide…

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Pittsboro, NC – Chatham County Schools is launching its Chatham Flight Plan 2020 Survey. The survey asks parents, students, staff, and community members about school quality, goals, initiatives, charter schools, communication, and other key topics. The results will help guide district strategic planning.

Chatham County Schools Goals“Community input is critical to informed decision making,” said Dr. Derrick D. Jordan, Superintendent. “The survey findings will carry significant weight as we work to chart a successful course for all CCS students.”

Here are the details:

●     The online survey will be open from Tuesday, January 12, 2016 to Tuesday, January 26, 2016.

●     Parents, staff, and community leaders with email addresses on file with the district will receive invitations to take the survey. Simply follow the link to participate.

●     The survey will be available to all students and community members on the district homepage.

Chatham County School District’s independent research partner, K12 Insight, will administer the survey, which means all responses are confidential. Unless respondents identify themselves in open-ended questions, no one from the district will be able to connect participants to their answers.

Dear Member of the Chatham County Schools Community,

Chatham County Schools is exploring opportunities to advance our strategic goals, and we need your input.

Your voice on the issues facing our district carries significant weight as the school board, superintendent, and district leadership team work toward making informed decisions. Our goal is to engage with you – parents of Chatham County Schools students (past, present, and future), as well as staff and the general public – in an honest conversation. We are confident that this conversation will help us better serve our students and fulfill the mission of Chatham County Schools.

This past spring, we conducted the 2014-2015 Budget Survey, which engaged 1,270 current parents/guardians and staff members. The results from this survey helped district leadership prioritize funding for school- and district-based programs and services. District leadership learned the top priorities for the 2015-2016 school year, which include:

  • Small class sizes, curriculum resource and education services at the school-level
  • Compensation for school employees (benefits and salaries), technology (desktop and laptop computers for student and staff use) and clean, well-maintained school buildings and property at the district level

Building on the results from the 2014-2015 Budget Survey, we are seeking feedback from even more stakeholders as we develop the future strategic plan.

Please respond thoughtfully to the topics within this survey by Jan. 29

Thank you for your support of Chatham County Schools as we chart the course for success for every child, every day, for a better tomorrow.

Warm Regards,

Dr. Derrick D. Jordan
Superintendent
Chatham County Schools

Charting a Course for Success in 2015-16

During the 2015-2016 school year, Chatham County Schools will begin the Strategic Planning process. As we begin this process, we will review district data, conduct focus groups in the community, and create new goals for the future. We look forward to engaging the community in this important process to ensure the success of every school and every student.

Mission Statement

The mission of Chatham County Schools is to graduate globally competitive, well-rounded students by providing a rigorous and relevant curriculum in an effective, safe, and nurturing learning environment.

Vision Statement

Chatham County Schools, through leadership, innovation, and collaboration, will provide real-world learning opportunities that prepare all students for life and success after graduation. Our diverse community will be invested, involved, and invited to create a strong culture of learning resulting in Chatham County Schools becoming a leader in education.

Core Beliefs:
  • Our democratic process depends on a strong system of public education.
  • Learning is a lifelong process.
  • Education is a responsibility shared by all.
  • Everyone deserves a safe and nurturing school environment.
  • Everyone is unique and has value.
  • Everyone should aspire toward success.
  • Everyone should be proficient and ethical in the use of technology.
  • Everyone can learn.

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Where do all the higher education savings go? http://chathamjournal.com/2016/01/08/where-do-all-the-higher-education-savings-go/ Fri, 08 Jan 2016 21:45:14 +0000 http://chathamjournal.com/?p=5615 By Jenna A. Robinson Raleigh, NC – In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell was awarded the first U.S. patent for a telephone. The first long distance coast-to-coast telephone call was placed in 1915—exactly a century ago. Fast-forward 100 years. Phones, many…

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By Jenna A. Robinson

Raleigh, NC – In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell was awarded the first U.S. patent for a telephone. The first long distance coast-to-coast telephone call was placed in 1915—exactly a century ago.

higher education costsFast-forward 100 years. Phones, many now mobile, are almost unrecognizable from their original 1876 design. And they do so much more than just make long-distance telephone calls. Users can text each other, surf the web, go shopping, take high quality photos, calculate large sums, listen to music, play games, and control their TVs.

Remarkably, all these features are available for less money than the first cell phone. Motorola debuted the world’s first portable cellular telephone in 1983. That phone, known as the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X, measured more than a foot long, weighed almost 2 pounds, and cost a whopping $3,995. Today, a new iPhone 6s costs just $649 (or far less with a service contract).

The history of many other products and services mirror that of the telephone. International travel, cars, appliances, delivery service, books, prepared food, music, and photography are now more abundant, better, and cheaper than they were when invented.

Why can’t the same be said for higher education? Because, unlike other sectors where gains in productivity have led to better and cheaper products for the consumer, higher education’s “product” is neither better nor cheaper.

Defenders of higher education often cite Baumol’s cost disease as the cause of the ever-increasing cost of college. The classic example of an activity that falls victim to Baumol’s cost disease is a symphony performance—where instruments, musicians, and venues haven’t changed in centuries. Therefore, there are no observable gains in productivity.

Many academics argue that university education is the same. Teaching, they say, hasn’t changed in its delivery or standards since Socrates’ time. Highly educated professional experts still lead discussions and shape young minds in modern America the same way Socrates did in ancient Greece. And since the main driver of cost in higher education is faculty salaries, there are no savings to be had. As salaries rise in other professions that require considerable postsecondary education, so must university salaries.

But at best, this theory can only explain a portion of the costs of higher education. That’s because Baumol’s “disease” really only applies to one part of a professor’s job—the in-person delivery of education, e.g. the lecture or discussion. This, in turn, is only one part of the total activity of a university.

To be fair, however, the important task of classroom teaching has changed little over time. But what the theory ignores are the important advances in the technology that support higher education, that have enabled the faculty to become much more productive than even a half-century ago.

These advances have occurred in four major areas of higher education delivery:

Assessments: At one time, oral examinations were the main form of assessment. Later, these viva voce exams gave way to written tests, which were graded by hand. Then, in the 1970s, the advent of the Scantron allowed professors to supplement written exams with multiple-choice sections. Even such seemingly minuscule factors as students switching from handwriting assignments to typing them has saved professors considerable time; they no longer have to interpret students’ poor penmanship.

Today, new web-based technology has helped move many assessments (including homework) online. These online forms allow for various question types (including multiple choice, short answer, matching, fill-in-the-blank, and essay). They also offer plagiarism- and grammar-checkers for essays and research projects submitted online. Together, these tools allow professors to grade more exams or problem sets in less time.

Research: Veteran professors have seen revolutionary change in research methods during their careers. Many first conducted empirical research using punch cards, which took hours to process results. Today, research faculty have far better options for data processing, many that use simple (and fast) point-and-click commands.

Access to academic literature has also improved. Researchers were once restricted to the information they could physically access in a local library or, later, through inter-library loans. Today, university libraries subscribe to thousands of academic journals electronically. Complicated searches can now be conducted without consulting a card catalog or even leaving the office.

Communication: Communication with students is easier than ever. For example, online versions of syllabi, complete with calendars, due dates, and FAQ sections, mean that students don’t have to bother their professors with questions to which they should already know the answers. Professors can now email all their students at the same time with the click of a button. Grades are posted online instead of in the hall outside a professor’s office. Communication about grades, study tips, and missed classes is now quicker and more painless than ever.

Lectures: The “sage on a stage” format has also evolved. Teaching assistants allow universities to supplement large lecture courses with small discussion sections. The advent of film and then the Internet meant that lectures in topics that rarely change (like physics or ancient history) can be recorded once, then used many times—often to “flip” or blend a classroom.

Given these advances in technology and others too numerable to mention here, it becomes clear that higher education only partially resembles a symphony performance. There have, in fact, been many productivity gains since higher education’s inception. Professors can complete all of their non-classroom activities much more efficiently than they could in the past.

Yet the performance of students has not measurably improved. Quite the contrary; many graduate without gaining making significant gains in knowledge or critical thinking skills. Others drop out because they find little value in what’s offered.

But it is the failure to control costs that is most obvious. They have increased every year—for students, parents, and taxpayers. Even many schools that are small and relatively “cost-conscious” have barely managed to hold the line on tuition increases. In an era when everything else is getting cheaper, this is not good enough.

The reason efficiency increases have not been passed to students and others is that universities have kept their savings on campus instead of sharing them. Those savings have been used to shift professors’ time from teaching to research and to hire more administrators and professional staff at ever-escalating salaries.

Economist Andrew Gillen analyzed the number of classes that tenured and tenure-track professors taught between 1988 and 2004. He found that the average teaching load declined 25 percent—from 3.6 to 2.7 courses per term. At research-intensive universities, the typical professor teaches just 1.8 courses. However, he found that similar declines occur at every type of higher education institution in the U.S., including at community colleges. Given current trends, it’s likely that professors teach even fewer courses today than they did in 2004. According to Gillen:

Universities are shifting their priorities. Teaching loads have been declining primarily because research has been increasingly prioritized by both universities and faculty. For faculty, publish or perish has come to dominate tenure and promotion decisions; for institutions, bringing in research dollars is a mark of prestige. As a result, both colleges and their faculty are putting more emphasis on research…at the cost of teaching.

Administration, too, has grown. According to an analysis of federal figures by the American Institutes for Research and the New England Center for Investigative Reporting, the number of non-academic administrative and professional employees at U.S. colleges and universities more than doubled between 1987 and 2011. The growth in these administrative positions vastly outpaced the growth in the number of students or faculty.

Not only has the number of administrators grown, so has their pay. As Jesse Saffron and I showed here, “2.17 percent [of UNC’s employees], earn more than $200,000 and 6,243, or 13 percent, earn more than $100,000.”

Higher education’s gains from productivity should be put to better use. As it stands now, amazing innovations in teaching and education delivery are benefiting the system instead of the student. Universities should take advantage of the efficiencies that exist by decreasing administrative staff and insisting that faculty teach more. Only then will students benefit from the recent innovations in higher education.

Where do all the higher education savings go? appeared first on Chatham Journal Newspaper.

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