Editorial Roundup: Indiana

 
 
Updated 1/18/2022 6:07 PM

The (Fort Wayne) Journal Gazette. Jan. 18, 2022.

Editorial: College credit

 

During the first years of the Great Recession, college enrollment jumped by 16% between fall 2007 and fall 2010. It's been the opposite during the pandemic, with colleges nationwide losing more than 465,000 students this year over last.

This is a missed opportunity for students who may shortsightedly see higher education as a money pit rather than a quality-of-life lift.

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center reported last week that undergraduate enrollment across two- and four-year state, private and for-profit colleges and universities in the fall of 2021 dropped by 3.1% compared with a year earlier. And this slide in enrollment is expected to contribute to a 6.6% decrease in undergraduate enrollment '" or about 1 million people '" since 2019.

The national dilemma is being played out locally, based on numbers reported last fall by The Journal Gazette's Ashley Sloboda. Other than the flagship campuses for Indiana and Purdue universities and some Ivy Tech Community College sites, state schools saw a 2.6% drop in degree-seeking students, bringing the five-year loss to 10.4%, according to the Indiana Commission for Higher Education.

Regional campuses for the state's flagship universities were down 8.4% from the year prior, much higher than the national average of 3.4%. Purdue Fort Wayne had a smaller decline at 7%.

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While community colleges nationally saw smaller enrollment drops, off by 3.4% over the previous year, Ivy Tech faced a systemwide decline of 6.7%. The Fort Wayne campus was hit particularly hard with an 8% decrease.

There are a few reasons cited as to why the Great Recession led to a surge in enrollment while the pandemic did not. Increased enrollment during the Great Recession, particularly with community colleges, was driven by adults retraining. Increasing the amount of Pell Grants as well as the number of students also encouraged Americans to go back to school, according to the education policy site, the Hechinger Report.

This follows patterns from other recessions, say writers in the journal for the National Bureau of Economic Research, that found a 1 percentage point increase in the unemployment rate is associated with a 2% increase in college enrollment.

The economic recession caused by COVID-19 began in the late winter of 2020 with a 20% to 30% crash of stock indices. Stay-at-home orders iced the economy, and more than 58 million unemployment claims were filed between March and August.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The difference between the two events, beyond one being continually menaced by a virus, is the speed of the recovery, massive stimulus packages and a jump in wages, the latter facing pressure from inflation.

'ťThe longer this continues, the more it starts to build its own momentum as a cultural shift and not just a short-term effect of the pandemic disruptions,'Ł Doug Shapiro, executive director of the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, told the Washington Post. 'ťStudents are questioning the value of college. They may be looking at friends who graduated last year or the year before who didn't go, and they seem to be doing fine. They're working; their wages are up.'Ł

Young people from the lower end of the economic scale are opting out at the highest rate. There may be lucrative opportunities in the short term, but so many metrics confirm the value of post-secondary education in a tech-based economy as the best way to provide economic mobility.

In a Journal Gazette op-ed last fall, Teresa Lubbers, then the Indiana commissioner for higher education, wrote that Hoosiers suffer from an 'ťongoing attitude that a college degree doesn't hold value.'Ł

Forget the generational differences. Young adults tend to live for the moment. It's incumbent upon their elders to remind them that going to school and work is not only doable, it is paramount.

The downstream effect is this: Indiana's leaders can cut taxes and create incentives for businesses, but we can't court businesses with high-paying jobs if we don't have an educated workforce. We need to redefine how we see college and continuing education as an opportunity rather than a burden.

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Anderson Herald Bulletin. Jan. 15, 2022.

Editorial: Teaching Jan. 6 events is an opportunity to grow

When Hoosier middle schoolers are taught state standards in U.S. and Indiana history, one focus, out of many, is the effect of slavery and consequences of the Civil War and Reconstruction.

In the eighth grade, pupils study social reform movements and the Civil War with state standards calling on students to describe 'ťcauses and lasting effects of the Civil War and Reconstruction as well as the political controversies surrounding this time such as Andrew Johnson's impeachment, the Black Codes, and the Compromise of 1877.'Ł

If you don't remember those historical events, Google them so you can keep up with your eighth grader.

With the one-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol behind us, perhaps it's time to discuss how the event will be taught in the future.

Granted, the chronology of events as well as the instigators are still being researched. We may not have the insight of a Civil War historian at this point about Jan. 6.

Maybe that's why Hoosiers should get an eye on legislation in the Indiana General Assembly intended to bar public schools and teacher preparation programs at colleges from teaching concepts that divide and stereotype people into groups based on sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, national origin or political affiliation.

One of the bill's authors, Sen. Scott Baldwin, R-Noblesville, said prohibited concepts include those that place responsibility for actions committed in the past by members of a group.

Less than two weeks ago, Baldwin was roundly denounced for, and had to walk back, comments he made at a Senate committee hearing in which he said teachers should remain neutral when teaching lessons about Marxism, fascism and Nazism.

As Baldwin has seen, being impartial when discussing violent and historic tragedies can send the wrong and even anti-Semitic message.

Does that mean students can't decide, or classrooms discuss, whether the Jan. 6 rioters were in the wrong? We hope not.

Last January, within a day of the riot, the Indiana Department of Education issued guidelines to help teachers lead discussions. 'ťIDOE supports educators as they intentionally respond to events in the news,'Ł the Twitter announcement read. 'ťIDOE recognizes the ever-changing needs of classroom instruction and student well-being that arise from current events.'Ł

The document has been pulled from the IDOE website, leaving individual school districts to figure out the best approach.

So educators and parents can begin to refine discussions. It may take tiny steps to get into deeper issues.

We might turn to the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based iCivics website that works toward civic engagement as an element of a thriving democracy. It suggests:

- Asking students what they know our what questions they have about Jan. 6, a discussion that can lead into a conversation about constitutional democracy.

- Helping students trace the effect of significant events in our nation's history to today. Why was Shays referred to as a rebellion, and why is the Boston Tea Party referred to as a tea party or John Brown's Raid as a raid? That can easily bring up whether Jan. 6 was a riot, insurrection or rebellion.

- Instilling the importance of building civic knowledge and skills with youth. See how an understanding of Jan. 6 can resolve future civic issues.

Maybe our youth will be supportive, appalled, disappointed, even unmoved by the events of Jan. 6, 2021. But it is important that they understand that day fully to develop their own perspectives on the world into which they'll become adults. Instruction can occur at home but should also be allowed to continue in schools.

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