Head to Head Contrast: Strayer Education (STRA) versus The …

Strayer Education (NASDAQ: STRA) is one of 20 public companies in the “General Education Services” industry, but how does it compare to its competitors? We will compare Strayer Education to related businesses based on the strength of its dividends, earnings, risk, institutional ownership, profitability, valuation and analyst recommendations.

Analyst Recommendations

This is a summary of current recommendations for Strayer Education and its competitors, as provided by MarketBeat.com.

Strayer Education currently has a consensus target price of $94.00, suggesting a potential upside of 6.61%. As a group, “General Education Services” companies have a potential upside of 4.08%. Given Strayer Education’s higher possible upside, analysts clearly believe Strayer Education is more favorable than its competitors.

Profitability

This table compares Strayer Education and its competitors’ net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Institutional and Insider Ownership

93.0% of Strayer Education shares are owned by institutional investors. Comparatively, 66.6% of shares of all “General Education Services” companies are owned by institutional investors. 6.7% of Strayer Education shares are owned by company insiders. Comparatively, 13.9% of shares of all “General Education Services” companies are owned by company insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that hedge funds, endowments and large money managers believe a company is poised for long-term growth.

Dividends

Strayer Education pays an annual dividend of $1.00 per share and has a dividend yield of 1.1%. Strayer Education pays out 31.2% of its earnings in the form of a dividend. As a group, “General Education Services” companies pay a dividend yield of 1.6% and pay out 34.6% of their earnings in the form of a dividend.

Earnings Valuation

This table compares Strayer Education and its competitors top-line revenue, earnings per share and valuation.

Strayer Education’s competitors have higher revenue and earnings than Strayer Education. Strayer Education is trading at a higher price-to-earnings ratio than its competitors, indicating that it is currently more expensive than other companies in its industry.

Volatility Risk

Strayer Education has a beta of 0.95, meaning that its share price is 5% less volatile than the SP 500. Comparatively, Strayer Education’s competitors have a beta of 1.14, meaning that their average share price is 14% more volatile than the SP 500.

Summary

Strayer Education competitors beat Strayer Education on 8 of the 15 factors compared.

About Strayer Education

Strayer Education, Inc. is an education services holding company. The Company provides post-secondary education and other academic programs, through its subsidiaries, Strayer University (the University) and New York Code and Design Academy (NYCDA). As of December 31, 2016, the University offered undergraduate and graduate degree programs in business administration, accounting, information technology, education, health services administration, nursing, public administration and criminal justice at 74 physical campuses located in the Mid-Atlantic and Southern regions of the United States, and online. The University also offers an executive Master of Business Administration (MBA) online through its Jack Welch Management Institute. Its subsidiary, NYCDA, provides non-degree courses in Web and application software development, primarily at its campus in New York City. Each undergraduate degree program includes courses in oral and written communication skills, as well as mathematics.

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Analyst Recommendations

This is a summary of current recommendations for Strayer Education and its competitors, as provided by MarketBeat.com.

Sell Ratings
Hold Ratings
Buy Ratings
Strong Buy Ratings
Rating Score

Strayer Education
0
2
1
0
2.33

Strayer Education Competitors
61
441
455
2
2.42

Strayer Education currently has a consensus target price of $94.00, suggesting a potential upside of 6.61%. As a group, General Education Services companies have a potential upside of 4.08%. Given Strayer Educations higher possible upside, analysts clearly believe Strayer Education is more favorable than its competitors.

Profitability

This table compares Strayer Education and its competitors net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins
Return on Equity
Return on Assets

Strayer Education
7.90%
17.65%
11.15%

Strayer Education Competitors
0.80%
0.13%
2.03%

Institutional and Insider Ownership

93.0% of Strayer Education shares are owned by institutional investors. Comparatively, 66.6% of shares of all General Education Services companies are owned by institutional investors. 6.7% of Strayer Education shares are owned by company insiders. Comparatively, 13.9% of shares of all General Education Services companies are owned by company insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that hedge funds, endowments and large money managers believe a company is poised for long-term growth.

Dividends

Strayer Education pays an annual dividend of $1.00 per share and has a dividend yield of 1.1%. Strayer Education pays out 31.2% of its earnings in the form of a dividend. As a group, General Education Services companies pay a dividend yield of 1.6% and pay out 34.6% of their earnings in the form of a dividend.

Earnings Valuation

This table compares Strayer Education and its competitors top-line revenue, earnings per share and valuation.

Gross Revenue
EBITDA
Price/Earnings Ratio

Strayer Education
$449.07 million
$77.90 million
27.47

Strayer Education Competitors
$909.14 million
$144.34 million
5.06

Strayer Educations competitors have higher revenue and earnings than Strayer Education. Strayer Education is trading at a higher price-to-earnings ratio than its competitors, indicating that it is currently more expensive than other companies in its industry.

Volatility Risk

Strayer Education has a beta of 0.95, meaning that its share price is 5% less volatile than the SP 500. Comparatively, Strayer Educations competitors have a beta of 1.14, meaning that their average share price is 14% more volatile than the SP 500.

Summary

Strayer Education competitors beat Strayer Education on 8 of the 15 factors compared.

About Strayer Education

Strayer Education, Inc. is an education services holding company. The Company provides post-secondary education and other academic programs, through its subsidiaries, Strayer University (the University) and New York Code and Design Academy (NYCDA). As of December 31, 2016, the University offered undergraduate and graduate degree programs in business administration, accounting, information technology, education, health services administration, nursing, public administration and criminal justice at 74 physical campuses located in the Mid-Atlantic and Southern regions of the United States, and online. The University also offers an executive Master of Business Administration (MBA) online through its Jack Welch Management Institute. Its subsidiary, NYCDA, provides non-degree courses in Web and application software development, primarily at its campus in New York City. Each undergraduate degree program includes courses in oral and written communication skills, as well as mathematics.

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Special education funding gap squeezes Arizona classrooms (+ Infographic)

Underfunding of federally mandated special education services for public school students, coupled with a growing number of students with more severe disabilities, is straining general classroom spending in Arizona’s public schools.

The state’s formula funding for special education is now $79 million less than what district and charter schools spend to provide the services required under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, according to a recent analysis by Dr. Anabel Aportela, director of research for Arizona Association of School Business Officials and Arizona School Boards Association.

Statewide, special education expenditures exceed $1 billion and have increased 8 percent since 2013, Aportela said.

Special education funding gap squeezes Arizona classrooms (+ Infographic) AZEdNewsSpecialEducationExpendituresInfographicPart1

Infographics by Lisa Irish/AZEdNews
Click here for a larger version

Aportela’s analysis examined state maintenance and operations revenues and expenditures, the special education teacher portion of Classroom Site Fund expenditures and Federal IDEA revenues and expenditures, but excluded expenditures paid through other federal funds such as Impact Aid and special education transportation costs, which can be significant.

Not adequately funding special education forces districts to make cuts to general education programs, said Dr. Chuck Essigs, a former special education teacher who is director of governmental relations for Arizona Association of School Business Officials.

“Districts have no choice but to fund special education programs since they are mandated by state and federal law; therefore, the only place that districts can make cuts are in non-special education programs,” Essigs said.

That impacts classroom spending, because you have to come up with money that isn’t there to pay for therapists, or bus aides or school bus service for special education students, Aportela said.

“Where is that money going to come from? Your general operations, so you’re going to increase class sizes, you hire fewer teachers and you don’t have raises for teachers,” Aportela said.

The dollars in the classroom debate

Public education advocates contend that the underfunding of special education impacts all public school students and also creates public misconceptions about how schools are using their resources.

Special education funding gap squeezes Arizona classrooms (+ Infographic) DistrictsHaveHigherRatesOfStudentsWithDisabilities

When the Arizona Auditor General’s report claimed classroom spending in Arizona decreased this year, its narrow focus did not take into account support services and legally-mandated special education that are key to students’ learning.

The auditor’s report, released March 1, focuses on spending on instruction as the barometer of support for Arizona students. A broader definition the governor, Legislature and Arizona public school leaders agreed upon in the 2015 budget includes instruction, instructional support and student support services.

That broader definition includes reading and math intervention specialists, media specialists, librarians, counselors, social workers, nurses, psychologists and speech, occupational and physical therapists in that total.

Why and how are costs rising?

Another critical factor is the increase in state and local special education expenditures for services, which rose 32 percent from 2007 to 2015 for Arizona district and charter schools, according to data provided to the Arizona Department of Education.

While the number of Arizona district and charter school students enrolled in special education has remained flat at 11.5 percent since 2013, a change in the types of students’ disabilities may account for this increase in costs, Aportela said.

Special education funding gap squeezes Arizona classrooms (+ Infographic) AZEdNewsSpecialEducationExpendituresInfographicPart2

Over the past four years, the number of students with mild disabilities has decreased slightly from 9.78 percent to 9.64 percent, while the number of students with more severe disabilities has increased from 1.75 percent to 1.86 percent, with the largest increases in students with autism and visual impairments Aportela said.

Funding to serve students with disabilities categorized as Group A is calculated by the state on a per-pupil basis. That means that if a school enrolls 100 students, then each of those 100 students is generating a per-pupil amount that is intended to cover the costs for these types of disabilities. Disabilities included in Group A are specific learning, emotional, mild intellectual, speech language impairment, developmental delay and other health impairments.

Funding for students with disabilities in the Group B category is calculated on an identified student basis. If there are five students at the school with those disabilities, the school will receive funding for those five students. Disabilities in Group B include orthopedic impairment, preschool students with disabilities, moderate intellectual, visual impairment, hearing impairment, autism, severe intellectual, multiple disabilities and severe sensory impairments.

More additional funding is provided for students in Group B than in Group A.

“Over the years, it’s been about 85 percent of the students are Group A and only about 15 percent of the students have been Group B,” Essigs said.

The increase in the severity of students’ disabilities has been one factor in the 16.6 percent increase in district special education teachers from 2004 to 2017, and the 43.3 percent increase in special education aides, Aportela said.

Special education funding gap squeezes Arizona classrooms (+ Infographic) AZEdNewsSpecialEducationExpendituresInfographicPart3

During that time, a 122.5 percent increase in bus aides and a 104.4 percent increase in special education support services, which include occupational, physical and speech/language therapists and audiologists has also led to increased special education expenditures, Aportela said.

Properly supporting special education students extends to transportation as well. Bus aides are often mandated in special education students’ Individualized Education Plans as necessary for door-to-door service as are health and other monitoring. These are considered transportation expenditures, not special education or classroom instruction expenditures.

“Most districts that I talk to are still facing the problem that the special education transportation costs far exceed what the transportation funding gives them to spend,” Essigs said.

How much more is needed?

While the recent analysis tells part of the story, education advocates say more is needed to inform the discussion and estimate what it will take to close the special education funding gap.

For that reason, education advocates say the push is on for an updated special education cost study to show what it would take to fully fund special education.

The last study, done in 2007, found that schools didn’t receive enough money to cover services required by law, forcing them to take money from other areas including services, programs or opportunities for students who don’t need special education. At that time, the deficit was $318 million.

Last legislative session, Sen. Sylvia Allen sponsored Senate Bill 1037, which would have required the Arizona Auditor General to conduct a special audit and cost study of school district and charter school special education programs. The bill passed in the Senate on a 30-0 vote on Feb. 28, 2017, and it passed in the House Appropriations Committee on an 11-3 vote on March 15, 2017, but the bill was later held in the House.

That’s not stopping public education groups, said Chris Kotterman, director of governmental relations for Arizona School Boards Association.

“School districts take their obligation to serve special education students very seriously, and will continue to provide the resources necessary to meet their needs,” Kotterman said.

“However, special education is costly, and the Legislature must recognize that by shortchanging the special education formula, they are hindering districts’ ability to accomplish our shared goal; namely, a top-notch public-school experience for every student, regardless of ability, location, or socioeconomic status,” Kotterman said.

“Every decision has consequences, and inaction is itself a decision,” Kotterman said.

LikesSpecial education funding gap squeezes Arizona classrooms (+ Infographic) up(0)DislikesSpecial education funding gap squeezes Arizona classrooms (+ Infographic) down(0)

Cengage Launches OpenNow, A Suite of Technology-Enhanced …

OpenNow delivers content through a flexible platform that engages students and boosts confidence with assessments and analytics. The content is curated with the licensing rights ensured and mapped to proven course objectives. Instructors can use the content out of the box or enlist an instructional design team from Cengage to develop course mapping and personalization, or to develop required additional courses.

All narrative and assessment included in OpenNow is openly licensed (CC-BY), so instructors and institutions can adapt and reuse the material and customize it to fit their objectives. OpenNow includes content from OpenStax and other sources, including new content created by Cengage, as well as content previously under a Cengage copyright. All Cengage content in OpenNow will become open and can be reused, modified and used elsewhere.  

“We are committed to providing students strong educational value with our products and services. This means offering product models that help students achieve their goals at a price that fits their budget,” said Michael Hansen, CEO, Cengage. “Early activation and access to course materials leads to a higher level of engagement and improved outcomes. OpenNow is a direct response to students telling us what they want and need to be successful.”

The OpenNow platform and all content is ADA-compliant and universally designed. OpenNow is currently available for Introduction to Psychology, American Government and Introduction to Sociology, with additional courses coming this fall, including: College Algebra, General Chemistry, Macroeconomics, Microeconomics, Introduction to Biology, U.S. History, College Success, Composition and Developmental English. To learn more about Cengage’s OER solutions, visit www.cengage.com/opennow.

About Cengage

Cengage is the education and technology company built for learners. The company serves the higher education, K-12, professional, library and workforce training markets worldwide. Cengage creates learning experiences that build confidence and momentum toward the future students want. The company is headquartered in Boston, MA with an office hub in San Francisco. Employees reside in nearly 40 countries with sales in more than 125 countries around the world. Visit us at www.cengage.com or find us on Facebook or Twitter.

Media Contact:
Chloe Ryan, Cengage
617-757-8160, Chloe.Ryan@cengage.com

View original content:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/cengage-launches-opennow-a-suite-of-technology-enhanced-oer-products-for-general-education-courses-300532557.html

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‘Do better:’ Parents of students with disabilities call on SBOE for more representation

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Nancy Anderson, attorney and associate director of Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program, discusses a meeting between the state and parents/advocates of special needs students that occurred on Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017.
Andrew Yawn / Advertiser

The message from parents of special needs students to the Alabama State Board of Education (SBOE) was clear and in large print across specially-designed T-shirts Thursday.

“Do better.”

Parents of and advocates for students with disabilities met with interim State Superintendent Ed Richardson Wednesday to express concern that Alabama’s ESSA plan (Every Student Succeeds Act) does not hold schools to a high enough standard when it comes to the performance of special needs students with one parent describing her child’s special education class as a “daycare.” Parents also said they have no clear line of communication to the SBOE and want a framework developed that would allow special needs interests to have a seat at the table when it comes to policy discussions.

“There’s not as much of a set path to communicate with y’all and we sort of run into roadblocks over and over and over,” said Bama Hager, program director with Autism Society of Alabama.

The ESSA plan was approved Thursday in order to be submitted to the U.S. Department of Education by the Oct. 13 deadline, a deadline that was extended past the initial Sept. 18 deadline by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos at the request of Gov. Kay Ivey.

A September review of Alabama’s ESSA plan by Alliance for Excellent Education gave Alabama the lowest possible grade for the “Inclusion of Subgroup Performance” category, meaning the subgroups such as special education students have “little to no effect on a school’s rating.”

Language has been added to the state’s ESSA plan to acknowledge the importance of evaluating the performance of special education students and teachers, and the ESSA plan had to be passed Thursday in order to secure the “significant infusion” of federal funding that comes with it, a sum of $508 million for Alabama schools, Richardson said.

But Richardson also said the ESSA plan could be amended after the submission to include more items regarding special education.

“Let’s wait for response from the Department of Education and then the state will respond with changes they see fit,” Richardson said.

SBOE members Jackie Zeigler, Betty Peters and Vice President Stephanie Bell voted against approving the ESSA plan, but members Yvette Richardson and Ella Bell said they approved the plan because of the opportunity to amend in the future.

The declaration was especially important for Ella Bell, who received backlash from the special education community after comments she made asking about separating special education grades from general education test scores, comments made at a June 21 SBOE meeting and publicized in an Aug. 24 column on AL.com.

“That is the wise thing to do,” Bell said of approving the ESSA plan and amending it later. “It is open ended so we can have input from our special populations.”

How the board will receive input from the special needs advocacy community was the subject of Thursday’s meeting between parents and Ed Richardson and the public comments made at the SBOE meeting that took place after. Those parents and advocates had been prevented from addressing the board in the two previous meetings because their topic of discussion was not on the agenda, according to State Department of Education officials and Richardson.

Parents asked for professional staff development to raise expectations for special education students, different pathways to achieving diplomas, and the need for school report cards to reflect the performance of the special education.

“The biggest (change we want to see) is just bringing us in. Letting our voices be heard. The representation of this disability community,” said People First adviser Kim Spangler whose son, Colby, has cerebral palsy. “The accountability measures for the testing scores, the report cards, all of that… We hope they will come up with a better way to do it than has been done in the past.”

Richardson said Nancy Anderson, attorney and associate director of Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program, is his point of contact with the special education community and will be in charge of submitting key recommendations to the SBOE and Department of Education.

“The key since I’m a short-termer is to make sure we have a framework that is working and in place so upon me exiting it’ll be easy to keep it in place,” Richardson said. 

Anderson related the need for special education students’ performance to grading on an essay. If spelling is only worth 10 percent of the grade, a student perceives spelling as mattering the least to his or her performance, she said. 

“Now what if that (percentage) was students with disabilities? That they only get to count this much as opposed to counting more. That’s the goal to make sure they count more,” Anderson said. “I think Dr. Richardson was very intent on listening to concerns parents and stakeholders raised regarding high expectations and accountability for students with disabilities. I’m heartened by the plan to move forward where parents and stakeholders can prioritize some main issues of concern and then develop a work plan with the Special Ed. division and the department as a whole about how to address them, and eventually as necessary bring them to the state board for action.”

Despite hikes, tuition income falls short

Vanessa Miller

The Gazette

With Iowa’s Board of Regents virtually certain to raise tuition again, the state’s public universities reported news this week that’s sure to complicate the debate over how much of an increase is appropriate:

Despite hikes last year, they fell millions short in raising the tuition revenue forecast.

That gap is largely because the regent universities actually are hurt financially by admitting students from Iowa — who pay the lowest tuition rates. For the last academic year, resident students made up a larger proportion of enrollment than projected.

As documents released this week by the Board of Regents show, tuition increases do not assure more revenue. The regent system requires admission to its universities for Iowa students who meet certain academic requirements.

The University of Iowa’s tuition revenue, for example, totaled $453.8 million — which was $6 million under budget “due to a higher number of resident versus non-resident students in the entering first-year class.”

Iowa State University’s tuition revenue came in close to $1 million under budget. And the University of Northern Iowa’s tuition revenue fell $1.3 million short.

And that was despite a 2 percent tuition increase for resident undergrads, and other larger increases for other classes of students.

When coupled with deep cuts in state support for the institutions — amounting to $20.8 million in fiscal 2017, which the Legislature took back midyear — the Board of Regents’ general fund revenues came in 1.5 percent under budget at $1.64 billion. (That excludes UI Health Care’s operating revenues of $1.4 billion.)

At the same time, the board’s general fund expenses exceeded planned spending by $4.1 million.

Adding its state revenue reduction, the board’s expenses exceeded revenues for the year by $28.6 million, the report said.

The board’s fiscal shortcomings were precipitated by those at the state level, which saw worsening declines in revenue projections that prompted lawmakers to pull back money from departments statewide.

Because each university is unique — with different student dynamics, priorities and losses — each university absorbed the cuts differently.

They all saved on supplies, services and equipment. The UI and UNI also reduced building repair expenses, but ISU saw a significant increase in those costs — coming in nearly $29 million over budget — due largely to expenses associated with the Bioscience Facilities and Student Innovation Center projects now under construction.

The $88 million work is being funded both by the state and ISU, with the state’s $50 million spread over four years.

“The timing and amounts of the expenditures in relation to the availability of the appropriations and other revenue sources for the project resulted in a larger amount of university funds being expensed for the project during FY 2017,” said board spokesman Josh Lehman said.

ISU dipped into its reserve accounts, but issued bonds in September in order to recoup costs incurred in the biosciences facilities projects, board documents show.

Although UNI reduced salary spending by more than $7 million, the UI and ISU increased salary and wage expenses.

The UI spent $2.1 million more to pay its employees — as President Bruce Bruce Harreld has made it a priority to improve faculty pay amid other cuts. ISU spent $2.5 million more on salaries.

Both also increased student financial aid, while UNI decreased it.

The drop in state aid continued the trend of tuition revenue accounting for more of university operating revenues than legislative support.

Tuition revenue today accounts for 59 percent of the regents’ $1.62 billion operating revenues, while state appropriations account for about 35 percent. In 1981, appropriations made up 77 percent of regent general education funding, while tuition was 21 percent.

The shift has university presidents calling for more tuition increases, should lawmakers decline to increase support. And the UI’s Harreld also has asked for more campus control over admission standards that could affect how many students from Iowa the university accepts.

The board is crafting proposed tuition rates for next academic year, but has given no time frame for when it will vote.

Here’s what the Wheelock College-Boston University merger …

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It’s a done deal: Boston University and Wheelock College have agreed to merge.

The two schools had said in August they were exploring the possibility of a “merger.” However, a more accurate description of the agreement announced Wednesday may be that BU is absorbing its financially struggling, 130-year-old neighbor.

How the merger works

According to a press release Wednesday, the merger will take place June 1, 2018, and will give BU ownership of all of Wheelock’s assets and liabilities.

Under the agreement, Wheelock’s School of Education, Child Life and Family Studies will be combined with BU’s School of Education to establish BU’s Wheelock College of Education and Human Development. Wheelock President David Chard will serve as interim dean of the new school from the date of the merger until July 1, 2020. Chard will report to BU Provost Jean Morrison.

In a letter to the BU community, Robert Brown, the school’s president, said the newly created school is the “cornerstone” of the merger and that BU will support “new faculty positions and expanded programming at WCEHD” with increased funding.

“The additional resources we plan to deploy gives Boston University the opportunity to commit with renewed energy to our long-standing efforts to promote quality early childhood and K–12 education as the foundation for the prosperity and stability of our city and the nation,” Brown said.

In the press release, officials from both institutions said the newly created college would be mutually beneficial. Chard said WCEHD provides an opportunity to focus on innovation in education, which he said his college hasn’t had the resources to do. BU officials said Wheelock’s strengths in early education and continuing teacher education complement the School of Education’s clinical education, doctoral education, and research programs.

The programs offered through Wheelock’s other two schools will be “integrated” into similar existing programs at BU.

“There is a great deal of work to be done, including some difficult decisions about the scope and organization of the combined college and the integration of other programs of Wheelock College into Boston University,” Brown said Wednesday. “However, we are confident that the results will be worth the effort.”

According to the press release, Wheelock’s endowment will be absorbed into BU’s endowment and managed by the university’s investment office. However, income from Wheelock’s endowment will be devoted to support WCEHD. Donor restrictions will also be honored, while unrestricted donations will go toward WCEHD.

What it means for students

The roughly 1,000 undergraduate and graduate students at Wheelock will be able to continue their studies at BU — in some shape or form.

Beginning in the fall of 2018, officials say Wheelock students “in good standing” will be offered the opportunity to transfer into existing BU programs, continue in new, “select Wheelock programs” at BU, or enroll in transitional programs that BU will “teach out” so they can complete their Wheelock course of study.

According to Wednesday’s press release, BU will honor the tuition rates and financial aid packages of current Wheelock students, so that their net tuition will be the same as the cost of attending their old school (though tuition may increase with inflation). Brown wrote that, beginning in 2018, all new students will be admitted through BU, “using our standards and processes.”

Applicants to WCEHD following the merger will be subject to BU’s requirements, tuition rates, and financial aid strategies.

“WCEHD students will be part of BU’s student body, will complete the same general education program, and will have access to the same educational and cocurricular opportunities as other BU students,” officials said.

Wheelock alumni will be treated as both alumni of WCEHD and BU.

What it means for staff

Here come those aforementioned “difficult decisions.”

It’s unclear whether layoffs may be forthcoming for Wheelock faculty and staff, but BU officials certainly alluded to the possibility Wednesday.

Officials say a “process” has been agreed to for determining the titles and responsibilities of tenured Wheelock faculty, who will transfer to BU. However, the “continuation” of non-tenured faculty members will be decided “on a case-by-case basis,” according to the needs of BU’s relevant academic units.

Wheelock’s administrative and operational functions will also be merged into the equivalent units at BU.

“The University will offer Wheelock staff appropriate positions where it is practical to do so,” Brown said.

What it means for Wheelock’s campus

“Many of you have likely walked past or through the Wheelock campus,” Brown wrote Wednesday. “The proximity to our campus is one of the attractive attributes that we took into account in our early review of the merger opportunity.”

Wheelock’s main campus is located along the Fens, less than a mile south from BU’s campus. Brown says the “current plan” is to use the school’s campus for BU academic programs.

In June, The Boston Globe reported that Wheelock was selling at least two buildings and reviewing the programs it offered. According to the Globe, the school has been facing an annual operating deficit of more than $2.5 million in recent years, decreased student enrollment, and a shrinking endowment.

Officials said Wednesday the school was projected to lose $6 million in the fiscal year of 2018 on a total operating budget of $30 million.

Wheelock solicited proposals for mergers from 60 other higher-learning institutions across the country. BU was one of six who responded.

“President Brown and I have discussed our intent to support Wheelock students and alumni during this transition and welcome them as part of the Boston University community,” Chard said in a statement Wednesday. “Moreover, we both want to create a college of which our entire community can be proud.”

Despite hefty hikes, tuition income falls short

Vanessa Miller

The Gazette

With Iowa’s Board of Regents virtually certain to raise tuition again, the state’s public universities reported news this week that’s sure to complicate the debate over how much of an increase is appropriate:

Despite hefty hikes last year, they fell millions short in raising the tuition revenue forecast.

That gap is largely because the regent universities actually are hurt financially by admitting students from Iowa — who pay the lowest tuition rates. For the last academic year, resident students made up a larger proportion of enrollment than projected.

As documents released this week by the Board of Regents show, tuition increases do not assure more revenue. The regent system requires admission to its universities for Iowa students who meet certain academic requirements.

The University of Iowa’s tuition revenue, for example, totaled $453.8 million — which was $6 million under budget “due to a higher number of resident versus non-resident students in the entering first-year class.”

Iowa State University’s tuition revenue came in close to $1 million under budget. And the University of Northern Iowa’s tuition revenue fell $1.3 million short.

And that was despite a 5 percent tuition increase for resident undergrads, and other increases for other classes of students.

When coupled with deep cuts in state support for the institutions — amounting to $20.8 million in fiscal 2017, which the Legislature took back midyear — the Board of Regents’ general fund revenues came in 1.5 percent under budget at $1.64 billion. (That excludes UI Health Care’s operating revenues of $1.4 billion.)

At the same time, the board’s general fund expenses exceeded planned spending by $4.1 million.

Adding its state revenue reduction, the board’s expenses exceeded revenues for the year by $28.6 million, the report said.

The board’s fiscal shortcomings were precipitated by those at the state level, which saw worsening declines in revenue projections that prompted lawmakers to pull back money from departments statewide.

Because each university is unique — with different student dynamics, priorities and losses — each university absorbed the cuts differently.

They all saved on supplies, services and equipment. The UI and UNI also reduced building repair expenses, but ISU saw a significant increase in those costs — coming in nearly $29 million over budget — due largely to expenses associated with the Bioscience Facilities and Student Innovation Center projects now under construction.

The $88 million work is being funded both by the state and ISU, with the state’s $50 million spread over four years.

“The timing and amounts of the expenditures in relation to the availability of the appropriations and other revenue sources for the project resulted in a larger amount of university funds being expensed for the project during FY 2017,” said board spokesman Josh Lehman said.

ISU dipped into its reserve accounts, but issued bonds in September in order to recoup costs incurred in the biosciences facilities projects, board documents show.

Although UNI reduced salary spending by more than $7 million, the UI and ISU increased salary and wage expenses.

The UI spent $2.1 million more to pay its employees — as President Bruce Bruce Harreld has made it a priority to improve faculty pay amid other cuts. ISU spent $2.5 million more on salaries.

Both also increased student financial aid, while UNI decreased it.

The drop in state aid continued the trend of tuition revenue accounting for more of university operating revenues than legislative support.

Tuition revenue today accounts for 59 percent of the regents’ $1.62 billion operating revenues, while state appropriations account for about 35 percent. In 1981, appropriations made up 77 percent of regent general education funding, while tuition was 21 percent.

The shift has university presidents calling for more tuition increases, should lawmakers decline to increase support. And the UI’s Harreld also has asked for more campus control over admission standards that could affect how many students from Iowa the university accepts.

The board is crafting proposed tuition rates for next academic year, but has given no time frame for when it will vote.

Here’s what the Wheelock College-Boston University merger actually means

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It’s a done deal: Boston University and Wheelock College have agreed to merge.

The two schools had said in August they were exploring the possibility of a “merger.” However, a more accurate description of the agreement announced Wednesday may be that BU is absorbing its financially struggling, 130-year-old neighbor.

How the merger works

According to a press release Wednesday, the merger will take place June 1, 2018, and will give BU ownership of all of Wheelock’s assets and liabilities.

Under the agreement, Wheelock’s School of Education, Child Life and Family Studies will be combined with BU’s School of Education to establish BU’s Wheelock College of Education and Human Development. Wheelock President David Chard will serve as interim dean of the new school from the date of the merger until July 1, 2020. Chard will report to BU Provost Jean Morrison.

In a letter to the BU community, Robert Brown, the school’s president, said the newly created school is the “cornerstone” of the merger and that BU will support “new faculty positions and expanded programming at WCEHD” with increased funding.

“The additional resources we plan to deploy gives Boston University the opportunity to commit with renewed energy to our long-standing efforts to promote quality early childhood and K–12 education as the foundation for the prosperity and stability of our city and the nation,” Brown said.

In the press release, officials from both institutions said the newly created college would be mutually beneficial. Chard said WCEHD provides an opportunity to focus on innovation in education, which he said his college hasn’t had the resources to do. BU officials said Wheelock’s strengths in early education and continuing teacher education complement the School of Education’s clinical education, doctoral education, and research programs.

The programs offered through Wheelock’s other two schools will be “integrated” into similar existing programs at BU.

“There is a great deal of work to be done, including some difficult decisions about the scope and organization of the combined college and the integration of other programs of Wheelock College into Boston University,” Brown said Wednesday. “However, we are confident that the results will be worth the effort.”

According to the press release, Wheelock’s endowment will be absorbed into BU’s endowment and managed by the university’s investment office. However, income from Wheelock’s endowment will be devoted to support WCEHD. Donor restrictions will also be honored, while unrestricted donations will go toward WCEHD.

What it means for students

The roughly 1,000 undergraduate and graduate students at Wheelock will be able to continue their studies at BU — in some shape or form.

Beginning in the fall of 2018, officials say Wheelock students “in good standing” will be offered the opportunity to transfer into existing BU programs, continue in new, “select Wheelock programs” at BU, or enroll in transitional programs that BU will “teach out” so they can complete their Wheelock course of study.

According to Wednesday’s press release, BU will honor the tuition rates and financial aid packages of current Wheelock students, so that their net tuition will be the same as the cost of attending their old school (though tuition may increase with inflation). Brown wrote that, beginning in 2018, all new students will be admitted through BU, “using our standards and processes.”

Applicants to WCEHD following the merger will be subject to BU’s requirements, tuition rates, and financial aid strategies.

“WCEHD students will be part of BU’s student body, will complete the same general education program, and will have access to the same educational and cocurricular opportunities as other BU students,” officials said.

Wheelock alumni will be treated as both alumni of WCEHD and BU.

What it means for staff

Here come those aforementioned “difficult decisions.”

It’s unclear whether layoffs may be forthcoming for Wheelock faculty and staff, but BU officials certainly alluded to the possibility Wednesday.

Officials say a “process” has been agreed to for determining the titles and responsibilities of tenured Wheelock faculty, who will transfer to BU. However, the “continuation” of non-tenured faculty members will be decided “on a case-by-case basis,” according to the needs of BU’s relevant academic units.

Wheelock’s administrative and operational functions will also be merged into the equivalent units at BU.

“The University will offer Wheelock staff appropriate positions where it is practical to do so,” Brown said.

What it means for Wheelock’s campus

“Many of you have likely walked past or through the Wheelock campus,” Brown wrote Wednesday. “The proximity to our campus is one of the attractive attributes that we took into account in our early review of the merger opportunity.”

Wheelock’s main campus is located along the Fens, less than a mile south from BU’s campus. Brown says the “current plan” is to use the school’s campus for BU academic programs.

In June, The Boston Globe reported that Wheelock was selling at least two buildings and reviewing the programs it offered. According to the Globe, the school has been facing an annual operating deficit of more than $2.5 million in recent years, decreased student enrollment, and a shrinking endowment.

Officials said Wednesday the school was projected to lose $6 million in the fiscal year of 2018 on a total operating budget of $30 million.

Wheelock solicited proposals for mergers from 60 other higher-learning institutions across the country. BU was one of six who responded.

“President Brown and I have discussed our intent to support Wheelock students and alumni during this transition and welcome them as part of the Boston University community,” Chard said in a statement Wednesday. “Moreover, we both want to create a college of which our entire community can be proud.”

Teacher to Parent – The inclusion of special needs students in mainstream classes benefits all students

Q. My student is in a class that includes some special education students who are being mainstreamed. I don’t have any issue with this. The problem is that one of the students is constantly calling and crying out and will often get up and wander around the room. I don’t want to be insensitive, but I also want my son to be able to learn in a classroom without distractions (he’s easily distracted already). What can I do?

I won’t assume that everyone who reads this column is familiar with how public schools address students with special needs, so permit me to provide a brief overview.

A “special need” is any diagnosed issue that may affect a student’s ability to learn. It can range from physical impairments (like cerebral palsy) to mental challenges (like Down’s Syndrome) to emotional issues (like anxiety or depression).

Schools are required by law to meet the educational needs of these students through “special education.” They usually do so in one of three ways: “Self-Containment” keeps special needs students confined to a certain area where they rarely mix with regular education students. “Inclusion” keeps students in a regular classroom but with two teachers, one regular and one special education. “Mainstreaming” occurs when special needs students attend regular education courses but may also receive instruction from a special ed teacher who removes (or “pulls out”) the students from the regular classroom.

Which kind of instruction students receive is determined by a team that includes teachers, parents, and principals. Before a student is placed into Inclusion or is Mainstreamed, the regular education teacher receives the student’s Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) for how to best educate the child. In general, this is all a smooth, routine process.

Mainstreaming and Inclusion (which are the services you’re talking about in your question) often are beneficial to both special need and regular education students. When I was in middle school, one of my best friends was John. He was completely blind, but he attended most of our regular courses. He had a special table with a braille typewriter and braille textbooks, and he was often accompanied by a special education teacher. He listened and participated in the lessons along with the rest of us. If he had been confined to a special school or room, he probably wouldn’t have been as happy, and I wouldn’t have had the joy of his friendship.

Sometimes, however, problems like the one you describe can be caused by competing perspectives. The special needs parent and special education teacher are often understandably hyper-focused on the needs of their child. But regular education teachers ultimately have the same responsibility to the special needs student that they do to every other student. Every child must be given a good learning environment, and all of their learning needs must be considered equally. It’s not a zero sum game. Some students may require more work and attention than others, but to the regular education teacher of 25 children, every single one of them is special.

The inclusion of special needs students in mainstream classes benefits all students when it is implemented well. When done ineptly, it can induce chaos that hinders everyone. It is possible in your situation that the special needs student has been inappropriately placed. This can result in the needs of one student impinging on the needs of others. Ideally a mainstreamed student should be able to follow basic rules and procedures. But if the student is consistently obstructing the learning of others, and if changes to the IEP aren’t working, then the student’s placement should be re-examined.

My advice is to have a conversation with the teacher. It’s possible you’re not getting the whole picture. If after that, the situation doesn’t seem better, then meet with the principal. If nothing has changed still, you have every right to demand a schedule change. No child—special needs, regular education, or otherwise—is obligated to remain in a class where the behavior of others impedes his or her ability to learn.

Providing Special Education in a Time of Disaster

10-Puerto-Rico-04-Water-600.jpg

10-Puerto-Rico-04-Water-600.jpgMy colleague Andrew Ujifusa has been on the ground in Puerto Rico, reporting on how the territory is trying to rebuild its school system after a devastating hurricane wrought damage across the island three weeks ago. 

An interview with Julia Keleher, Puerto Rico’s education secretary, shows just how formidable a task educators face. Puerto Rico has more than 1,200 schools. This week, officials hoped to reopen 165. 

From the article:

“We understand that if our teachers aren’t well, they’re not going to be able to take care of our students,” said Keleher, who’s been Puerto Rico’s schools chief since January and took over a system with a massive debt and that had to close a large number of schools recently.

As for the U.S. Department of Education, Keleher said she appreciates the funding flexibility that Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has provided. What else do Keleher and her department need to help schools recover? Congress could also waive requirements around adult and special education. And Keleher said she looks at the funding package given to schools in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina and says something similar would be appropriate for her schools.

“Those restart funds were huge [after Katrina],” Keleher said in an interview here with Education Week. “If we’re strategic about it, it’s only going to advance our reforms quicker.”

Last month, the U.S. Department of Education released guidance for states and regions affected by natural disasters. As of now, that includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina, Texas, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as other states that are receiving displaced students. That’s with another two months of hurricane season ahead of us, and doesn’t include the major disaster declaration just made today in California, which is dealing with deadly wildfires in the Napa Valley region.

So just what kind of flexibility to schools and districts have? The guidance notes that:

  • Schools in disaster areas are not required to provide a free, appropriate public education, or FAPE, to special education students while they are closed to all students. 
  • If a school is providing general education but can’t meet a student’s individualized education program, the student’s IEP team has to meet to determine what services can be provided. The IEP team would also determine what compensatory education a student might need if there has been a long school closure. 
  • Schools that enroll displaced students with disabilities must provide services comparable to those in the student’s former school, until the new district can conduct its own assessment. 
  • With Education Department approval, states can choose cut their special education spending under a provision of special education law that allows funding reductions in “exceptional or uncontrollable circumstances.” Some states received permission to do this during the Great Recession. Without such a waiver, federal special education law says that states may only maintain or increase their special education funding from year to year. 

In general, the Education Department said, it wants to provide what support it can to states and regions as they recover and rebuild, said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. “For children of affected families, returning to school can provide stability in a time of upheaval as they reconstruct their lives,” she said in a statement. 

Photo: Jeremy Vasquez collects water at a relief station set up at the Ramon Luis Cabanas baseball stadium in the San Jose neighborhood of Utuado, Puerto Rico.—Swikar Patel/Education Week


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