Friday Five: Education and America’s Future

Every Friday we bring you the week’s best from around the web. This week, we focus on education: Are elite colleges worth the hype? How is school choice improving the educations of kids across the country? Will charter schools become the new norm?

1. Elite Colleges Don’t Buy Happiness for Graduates: Douglas Belkin of The Wall Street Journal takes a look at what happens during college that leads to well-being and workplace engagement later in life.

The strongest correlation for well-being emerged from a series of questions delving into whether graduates felt “emotionally supported” at school by a professor or mentor. Those who did were three times as likely to report they thrived as adults. Graduates who reported having “experiential and deep learning” were twice as likely to be engaged at work as those who didn’t.

2. School Choice: Encouraging New and Better Schools: This interactive resource and video from AEI provide an in-depth look at how school choice—combined with other innovative reforms—is revolutionizing education in America.

3. The Streamlined Life: As college students become more and more focused on preparing for the harsh job market, their “deeper thinking” is taking the backseat, David Brooks argues.

There is the perception that life is harder. Certainly their parents think it is harder. The result is that you get a group hardened for battle, more focused on the hard utilitarian things and less focused on spiritual or philosophic things; feeling emotionally vulnerable, but also filled with résumé assertiveness. The inner world wanes; professional intensity waxes.

4. Loving Charter Schools to Death: It’s “National Charter Schools Week,” and it seems there is at last bipartisan support for these largely successful schools. This is cause for celebration, right? Rick Hess and Mike McShane caution against being over-enthusiastic:

Students below the poverty line and African-American students were both found to fare better in charter than in public schools when their standardized test scores were disaggregated. This is the happy story part. But creeping bureaucratization and regulation are endangering the entire charter school movement.

5. The CLA+ Exam: A Game-Changer For Accountability In Higher Education: A test that measures the critical thinking, analytic reasoning, problem solving, and written communication skills of college graduates could be a useful step forward in higher education reform, say William Bennett and David Wilezol.

The implementation of the CLA+ exam, and the public disclosure of a school’s aggregate results, would put much needed pressure on institutions to rectify significant problems with the quality of content and instruction.

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