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Wednesday Churn: Obama’s back


What’s churning:

Updated noon – President Obama today made his second appearance in a month on a Denver campus. The president, on a Western swing promoting his jobs bill, discussed student loans and announced changes in the federal loan program at the Auraria Higher Education Center. Get the details from our partners at 9News.com.

The changes, which the administration proposes to make without congressional action, would affect about 7 million of the 36 million borrowers in the federal student loan program, according to InsideHigherEducation.com. The plan would consolidate loans for some borrowers and change income-based repayment for current students.

Obama gave a jobs speech on Sept. 28 at southwest Denver’s Lincoln High School.

Auraria students have personal experience with college affordability issues. Tuition and fees rose 18.1 percent at Metro State and 5.5 percent at the University of Colorado Denver this fall. Community College of Denver tuition rose 9 percent. The three schools share the Auraria campus. (See this EdNews article for a detailed review of 2011-12 tuition at all state schools.)

A new study by the College Board, released today, finds that average instate tuition and fees rose an average of 8.3 percent around the nation this fall.

In Colorado, 65 percent of students graduate with debt and the average load is $22,084 for a graduate with a bachelor’s degree, according to the 2009-10 financial aid report by the Department of Higher Education. Median debt for community college grads is about $13,000.

Everybody gets confused by the parade of studies on whether charter schools or traditional schools produce better student achievement. A new report by the University of Washington’s Center on Reinventing Public Education claims to clear up the confusion by studying the studies.

That “meta-analysis,” in the words of a news release, “reviewed the 40 existing high-quality studies of charter school achievement and scientifically combined the results.” The review concludes charters are doing somewhat better in lower grades but that charter and traditional results are similar in high school. Learn more

Another report, this one from researchers at CU-Boulder, calls for “immediate” regulation of K-12 virtual schools. The report, titled Online K-12 Schooling in the U.S.: Uncertain Private Ventures in Need of Public Regulation, was released Tuesday by the National Education Policy Center and is by CU education professors Gene V. Glass and Kevin G. Welner. An accompanying report, Model Legislation Related to Online Learning Opportunities, comes from University of Kentucky education professor and attorney Justin Bathon and offers statutory language to bring state policies in line with the research.

“There’s zero high-quality research evidence that full-time virtual schooling at the K-12 level is an adequate replacement for traditional face-to-face teaching and learning,” Welner said.

According to Glass, “Private operators are gaining access to large streams of public revenue to run cyber schools. But the public is not getting full information on the actual costs of these programs, so it’s not clear if taxpayer money is being used properly.”

Read the news release here and the reports here.

What’s on tap:

The Colorado Children’s Campaign holds its annual luncheon in the Seawell Ballroom of the Denver Performing Arts Complex. Featured speakers during a panel discussion include Bill Shore, nationally-recognized expert on childhood hunger and executive director of Share our Strength, and Angela Glover Blackwell, CEO of PolicyLink.

The nine candidates running for the three contested Denver school board seats are expected to be on hand tonight at Denver Public Schools headquarters, 900 Grant St. The event, billed as “A Conversation With the Candidates,” will be hosted by the DPS Student Board of Education and is set for 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Student leaders from 21 DPS high schools will be asking questions and expressing their concerns to the candidates. The public is invited to attend though there is no time set aside for audience questions.