Weekly Address: President Obama – A New College Scorecard

The President’s Weekly Address post is also an Open News Thread. Feel free to share other news stories in the comments.

From the White HouseWeekly Address

In this week’s address, the President announced the launch of a new College Scorecard, meant to help students and parents identify which schools provide the biggest bang for your buck. Designed with input from those who will use it most, the Scorecard offers reliable data on factors important to prospective students, such as how much graduates earn, and how much debt they have when they graduate. In an economy where some higher education is still the surest ticket to the middle class, the choices that Americans make when searching for and selecting a college have never been more important. That’s why the President is committed to making sure there exists reliable information that helps students find the college that best fits their needs so that they can succeed.


Transcript: Weekly Address: A New College Scorecard

Remarks of President Barack Obama, Weekly Address, The White House, September 12, 2015

Hi, everybody. Next week marks seven years since a financial crisis on Wall Street that would usher in some hard years for working families on Main Street. Soon after that, I took office. And we set out to rebuild our economy on a new foundation for growth and prosperity by investing in things that grow our middle class – things like jobs, health care, and education.

Today, our businesses have created more than 13 million new jobs over the last five and a half years. The unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in more than seven years. Another 16 million Americans have gained health insurance. Our high school graduate rate is the highest it’s ever been, and more people are graduating from college than ever before. We are coming back – and stronger.

Still, in an economy that’s increasingly based on knowledge and innovation, some higher education is the surest ticket to the middle class. By the end of this decade, two in three job openings will require some higher education. That’s one reason why a degree from a two-year college will earn you $10,000 more each year than someone who only finished high school. One study showed that a degree from a four-year university earns you $1 million more over the course of a lifetime.

The country with the best-educated workforce in the world is going to win the 21st century economy. I want that to be America. But as college costs and student debt keep rising, the choices that Americans make when searching for and selecting a college have never been more important. That’s why everyone should be able to find clear, reliable, open data on college affordability and value – like whether they’re likely to graduate, find good jobs, and pay off their loans. Right now, however, many existing college rankings reward schools for spending more money and rejecting more students – at a time when America needs our colleges to focus on affordability and supporting all students who enroll. That doesn’t make sense, and it has to change.

So, today, my Administration is launching a new College Scorecard, designed with input from those who will use it the most – students, families, and counselors. Americans will now have access to reliable data on every institution of higher education. You’ll be able to see how much each school’s graduates earn, how much debt they graduate with, and what percentage of a school’s students can pay back their loans – which will help all of us see which schools do the best job of preparing America for success. And to reach more folks, we’re working with partners in the academic, non-profit, and private sectors that will help families use this new data to navigate the complicated college process and make informed decisions.

The status quo serves some colleges and the companies that rank them just fine. But it doesn’t serve our students well – and that doesn’t serve any of us well. There are colleges dedicated to helping students of all backgrounds learn without saddling them with debt. We should hold everybody to that standard. Our economic future depends on it.

This work is just beginning. In the coming weeks and months, we’ll continue to improve the Scorecard based on what we learn from students, parents, counselors, and colleges themselves. The goal is to help everybody who’s willing to work for a higher education search for and select a college that fits their goals. Together, we can make sure that every student has the chance to get a great education and achieve their full potential.

Thanks, everybody. And have a great weekend.

Bolding added.




  1. In the News: Half Of California’s Electricity Will Come From Renewable Energy In 15 Years

    Late Friday night, the California State Assembly voted 51-26 to pass SB 350, a landmark bill that would boost renewable energy and make buildings twice as efficient as before.

    The legislature sent the bill to California Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature, and he is expected to sign it later this month, as the legislation makes real the goals Brown set down earlier this year in his inaugural address.

    The state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) currently requires utilities to provide 33 percent of their electricity generation from renewable sources, such as solar, wind, and geothermal power, by 2020. The new bill, The Clean Energy and Reduction Act, would increase that target to 50 percent by 2030. It would also require a 50 percent increase in energy efficiency in buildings by that year.

  2. In the News: Republicans lose Latino Vote in a Yoooge Way

    In a hypothetical general election match-up, leading Democrat Hillary Clinton would trounce Trump 69%-22% among Latino voters. Against Vice President Joe Biden, who has not yet said whether he plans to run, Trump would still perform poorly – 71% to Biden’s 20%.

    Dana Houle pointed this out in a Tweet reply to Michael Li:

    Michael Li @mcpli
    Mitt Romney got a disastrous 27% of the Latino vote. Current Latino support for the GOP: 22%.

    ‏Dana Houle @DanaHoule
    If Hillary, as poll show, wins growing Latino vote by more than Obama, & loses shrinking white vote by less than Obama, how does she lose?

    The same is true for Biden.

  3. In the News: Voting

    California Senate OKs automatic voter registration plan

    In response to the record-low turnout in the last election, the state Senate on Thursday approved a bill that would automatically register to vote any eligible Californian who gets a driver’s license unless they opt out.

    The measure was prompted by the 42% turnout in the November election, as well as the turnout for March election in Los Angeles, in which only about 10% of eligible voters went to the polls.

    Nearly 7 million Californians, mostly young people, are eligible but not registered to vote. In an effort to boost the number, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) introduced a bill modeled on a new law in Oregon to get more people to the polls.

    “The California New Motor Voter Act is a simple, common-sense opportunity to streamline and modernize our voting system to bring millions of eligible voters into the electoral process and rebuild the relationship between the public and their representatives,” said Gonzalez, whose bill is also backed by Secretary of State Alex Padilla.

    Beefing up the DOJ for voting rights enforcement:

    Loyola Law School, Los Angeles today announced that prominent election law professor Justin Levitt, a national expert in constitutional law and the law of democracy, has been named Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. Levitt will be on leave from Loyola, and available to serve in that position, through the close of the current presidential administration.

    ACLU going after Kansas’ Kobach:

    Kansas now requires residents to produce citizenship documents, typically a birth certificate or passport, to register to vote. That law, championed by Kobach, took effect in 2013.

    But citizens have long been allowed to use a federal form to register. That form requires registrants to sign a statement, under penalty of perjury, that they are U.S. citizens. No documents needed.

    So what to do about Kansas residents who complete the federal form, which courts have said must be accepted by states?

    This is the fallout critics are decrying: They are allowed to vote, but Kobach decided their ballots will be treated specially. Only votes in federal races are counted. If they cast votes in state and local races, those votes are not counted. […]

    The ACLU filed a motion this month calling Kobach’s “dual system” illegal. The motion said that Kobach, the state’s top election official, didn’t have legislative authority to put it in place and that it unconstitutionally grants differing voter rights.

    “The secretary of state adopted this kind of informal rule that treats people who use the federal form differently from people who use the state form,” said Doug Bonney, the ACLU of Kansas’ legal director.

    “This is just making up a system that needs more thought and, at the very least, needs legislative authority.”

    Lawrence Lessig thanks Trump:

    Billionaire Donald Trump is telling every American who’ll listen how he buys their politicians, and Democratic presidential candidate Larry Lessig could not be happier.

    “When Donald Trump stands up [and explains how he buys politicians]… the public are like ‘hell yeah, finally somebody is willing to say what we’ve always known is true’,” said Lessig, the Harvard law professor who is running for president to get big money out of politics.

    “And that’s progress.”

  4. In the News: Protests over giant telescope put concerns of Native Hawaiians into focus

    The world’s tallest mountain from seafloor to summit is Mauna Kea, a 32,000-foot volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii where ancient Hawaiians believed the gods dwelled at the intersection of sky and peak.

    In the last five months this sacred summit has also become a battleground. After plans were announced to build the world’s most powerful telescope atop the mountain, hundreds of protesters calling themselves protectors blocked Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) construction crews and equipment from accessing the summit, resulting in shutdowns and dozens of arrests.[…]

    The protests are not only are responding to the mismanagement of the mountain, which hosts more than a dozen other aging telescopes, they but are also are emblematic of a native people fed up with the under-prioritization of their interests, from the 1893 overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom to the erosion of Hawaii’s culture and natural environment. The case is now being heard by Hawaii’s Supreme Court, and protesters are standing their ground.

  5. In the News: Walker tanking … pulls out of Michigan and California events

    Here’s hoping the Koch brothers have started to look at the sunk-cost equation regarding their early Wisconsin purchase. Looks like they may have chosen him in the first place because he was cheap and desperately accommodating, without realizing why he was cheap and desperate…

    daveweigel @daveweigel

    Possible Walker comeback plans:

    – taking union member on the road to berate at events

    – plastic surgery to literally become Reagan

    Politico: Scott Walker craters — but not because of Trump

    “Walker’s issue is, his campaign and the people friendly to him in the conservative media… built up a level of expectation for him that was simply impossible to meet,” said influential conservative Iowa radio host Steve Deace, who is backing Ted Cruz but was until August also seriously considering Walker. “Now when people see him, they don’t see him as the everyman they can relate to. They see disappointment. ‘This is the fighter from Wisconsin? Where’s the fighter? Where’s the energy?’ And I don’t know how he can combat that, I really don’t.”’ […]

    But it is nearly unheard of for a candidate who peaks in the summer in Iowa and then drops sharply to make a comeback in time for the caucuses.

    Walker “was not out here frequently to capitalize on the interest on him for the six months after that January speech, and then clearly wasn’t ready because he was on three different sides of two-sided issues on a couple of different occasions,” said Doug Gross, a former chief of staff to Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad. “So as a result people just lost confidence that this guy was our alternative. He no longer was a bright shiny penny, instead he was all scuffed up and thrown away.” […]

    “… if you look at somebody who goes from first to almost worst, it’s got to be more than just [because] of someone else. It’s about him and his campaign.”

    “If you play small ball, if you play it safe, you’re giving other people a chance to speed by you. Walker didn’t do any one thing wrong, he just didn’t do anything right,” said [a Republican strategist].

      • He is one I am taking particular pleasure in seeing humiliated.

        A Wisconsin friend emailed me a link to this story yesterday:

        A billion dollars and a combover won’t turn Walker into a Trump, or even a Ted Cruz. Walker simply isn’t a candidate designed for presidential-style prominence. Walker has certain very important political skills that have led him to the place he is today. In fact, it may be his reliance on the skills that paved his success in state politics that prevent him from succeeding as a presidential candidate. […]

        … a great candidate in state politics is one who is up to the grueling, demanding, demeaning task of knocking on thousands of doors and begging donors for money. Most people with a sense of dignity aren’t. But there are the rare creatures like Scott Walker who excel at the task.

        Knocking on doors is not about wowing those you encounter with a firm grip of policy or a ground-shaking vision. […]

        Finally, throughout his career, Walker didn’t have to deal with a media that never hesitated to declare him dumb, dull, or dead at the first whiff of a gaffe. […] Walker found he could deal most effectively with local media by steadfastly evading tough questions with his reliable talking points. […]

        Walker is facing competition and scrutiny that he has shown himself fundamentally unprepared to confront because he is still playing bush-league politics on a big-league field.

  6. I find the college scorecard initiative very interesting. As you know, I have long complained about the dominance of alumni from Ivy League institutions in positions of power, such as Scotus and Potus to name the big ones. Yet there are many alumni from state schools who are just as qualified, their schools just as good, and they should be given an equal chance.

    • I want to try it out and see what it does.

      A friend sent me a link to a story about UW-La Crosse being named one of the best midwestern colleges in the US News and World Report College Rankings.

      They have a category that I like: it is called “A-Plus Schools for B Students”

      If you’re a good student with less-than-stellar test scores or a so-so GPA, these are the schools for you. These colleges, which have strong ratings in the 2016 U.S. News Best Colleges rankings, accept a significant number of students with nonstratospheric transcripts.

      High school is more than just school and some kids are late to understand the importance of grades and course selection until it is too late. Even with the best advice from school counselors, the social aspects can lead kids to make poor or less-than-great choices. Bright kids who find themselves with those unimpressive resumes can still get an excellent education in those schools. What we do when we are 16 should not determine the rest of our lives.

      I am not sure that graduating from an Ivy creates an elite ruling class with similar ideology. Barack Obama and Ted Cruz both graduated from Harvard and they could not be more different. I think, though, how you got into the Ivy League college has bearing … George W. Bush, a Yalie, was gifted with his placement and his degree and so privilege beget privilege. I think that rubbing shoulders with people who have money and long pedigrees can form one’s attitude but it is not going to be a monolithic attitude. That said, it would be refreshing to see some different schools represented.

  7. Smartypants found a strange “headline-text-fact” disconnect in the New York Times’ coverage of this White House initiative: The New York Times Blows It…Again

    But take a look at the headline from the New York Times on the story: “With Website to Research Colleges, Obama Abandons Ranking System”. And here’s the opening paragraph:

    President Obama on Saturday abandoned his two-year effort to have the government create a system that explicitly rates the quality of the nation’s colleges and universities, a plan that was bitterly opposed by presidents at many of those institutions.

    While they eventually get to the story of how this new tool will help prospective students, you have to wade through paragraphs detailing how President Obama’s ultimate goal was derailed in order to get there. In other words, they decided that the story was all about what didn’t happen with a tiny nod to what did happen as an afterthought.

    Process is more important than outcome? I don’t think so.

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