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Friday, March 22, 2019

The Advantages of the Affluent in Admissions

At Inside Higher Ed, Scott Jaschik lists some of the admissions advantages available to affluent families:
  • Counselors:... While many of those counselors talk of taking on pro bono clients, the general practice is to charge. According to the Independent Educational Consultants Association, comprehensive packages for a student range from $850 to $10,000, while the average hourly fee is $200. Such fee levels mean that many middle-class families are able to find private counselors, but the wealthy have access to services that are priced beyond the reach of most Americans. In 2005, Inside Higher Ed wrote about a three-and-one-half-day workshop for which the fee was $9,999. Last year, Inside Higher Ed wrote about a service that charged $1.5 million to help an applicant seek admission to 22 colleges.
  • Essay "help": Beyond private counselors, a growing number of wealthy applicants are hiring people to help them write their college essays
  • Testing: ... For the most recent year, the average combined score on reading and mathematics was 990 for those who received fee waivers that are available to low-income students. The average was 1088 for those who didn't receive waivers. The waivers cover two SATs, but those who pay for the SAT can take the test as many times as they would like.
  • Where Colleges Recruit Numerous studies have found that colleges are more likely to recruit at high schools with wealthy students than students whose families are middle class or poor. In 2012, Caroline M. Hoxby and Christopher Avery kicked off discussion of "undermatching" with their study that found that more than half of high-academic-achievement, low-income students never apply to a single competitive college.
  • "Demonstrated interest": This is one of the admissions criteria used by many competitive colleges. ...But a study by Lehigh University economists published last year in Contemporary Economics Policyfound that colleges most favor demonstrated interest of the kind that costs money.
  • Early decision: ...An analysis by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation pointed to evidence about who applies early. "Twenty-nine percent of high-achieving students from families making more than $250,000 a year applied early decision, compared with only 16 percent of high-achieving students from families with incomes less than $50,000. In short, low-income students are half as likely to apply early, even though doing so would dramatically increase their likelihood of admission."
  • Legacy preferences: In the United States, graduating from a college is associated with higher levels of educational attainment and standardized test scores for graduates' children. Legacy preferences -- in which colleges favor the children of alumni -- add to those advantages.
  • Minimal transfers: In states such as Florida and California, transfer admissions -- primarily from community colleges -- are a major source of socioeconomic diversity at public universities. At places like the University of California, Berkeley, which is barred by the state from considering race in admissions, transfer admissions also add significantly to black and Latinx enrollment. Berkeley this year enrolled 221 new black transfer students and many more Latinx transfer students (and students of other backgrounds). Elite private colleges, in contrast, tend to enroll relatively few transfer students. A report released in January by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation found that relatively few community college transfers are admitted to elite private colleges, even though those who enroll do succeed and are more likely than those admitted as freshmen to be from underrepresented minority groups, from low-income backgrounds or to be veterans of the U.S. military.
  • Rankings: For years, many have said that the rankings by U.S. News & World Report favor institutions that admit wealthy students. 
Brown University is among the institutions that considers legacy status, and recent articles have drawn attention to other advantages that legacy applicants and wealthy applicants have had or continue to enjoy.
On Thursday, The Brown Daily Herald reported, and the university and some faculty members confirmed, that the university's fund-raising office sets up meetings with faculty members for applicants who are either legacies or are related to wealthy individuals or others in touch with fund-raisers. In some cases, the faculty members have been encouraged to write letters to the admissions office about their (positive) impressions of the applicants.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Facebook and News Deserts

At Facebook, we’ve been working to better understand the local news vacuum in conjunction with the development of Today In, a new place on Facebook for local news, information, and community conversation. We designed Today In in response to what we heard people on Facebook want, after conducting research in mid-2017 that found people wanted to see more local news and community information. We’ve now rolled it out to over 400 cities in the US.
To build Today In, we needed to know, for any given community in the US, what local news was available on Facebook at a given time. Through a five-step algorithmic process, we learned how much local journalism is being shared on Facebook in towns across the country. We also learned where the holes are – places where we can’t identify enough regular local reporting on Facebook.
About one in three users in the U.S. live in places where we cannot find enough local news on Facebook to launch Today In. What does that mean exactly? In the last 28 days, there has not been a single day where we’ve been able to find five or more recent news articles directly related to these towns. This does not vary much by region: 35% of users in the Midwest, Northeast, and South – and 26% in the West – live in places where we can’t find much local news on Facebook.
Today we’re also announcing a new pilot program, the Facebook Journalism Project Community Network, to support projects aimed at building community through local news. Launching with an open call for applications in early May, the FJP Community Network will be offering grants and opportunities for expert support. Whether a publisher is trying to build a new business around memberships, report in an underserved community, or build a tool that helps local storytellers find and engage news audiences — we want to provide runway for them to serve their community. Grant recipients will be connected to Facebook’s community of Accelerator alumni as well as to fellow grant awardees, establishing a network of experts and resources for continued support.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The Politics of CEOs

Cohen, Alma and Hazan, Moshe and Tallarita, Roberto and Weiss, David, The Politics of CEOs (March 19, 2019). Available at SSRN:

CEOs of public companies have influence over the political spending of their firms, which has been attracting significant attention since the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United. Furthermore, the policy views expressed by CEOs receive substantial consideration from policymakers and the public. Therefore, we argue, the political preferences of CEOs are important for a full understanding of U.S. policy making and politics. To contribute to this understanding, we provide novel empirical evidence on the partisan leanings of public-company CEOs.

We use Federal Election Commission (FEC) records to compile a comprehensive database of the political contributions made by more than 3,500 individuals who served as CEOs of S&P 1500 companies between 2000 and 2017. We find that these political contributions display substantial partisan preferences in support of Republican candidates. We identify how this pattern is related to the company’s industry, geographical region, and CEO gender. To highlight the significance of CEOs’ partisan preferences, we show that public companies led by Republican CEOs tend to be less transparent to investors with respect to their political spending. Finally, we conclude by discussing the important policy implications of our analysis.
In 2016, for instance, they gave $31.6 million to Republicans, and $9.6 million to Democrats.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

C-SPAN Is 40

Forty years ago today, C-SPAN started live coverage of House floor proceedings. At NYT, Julia Jacobs interviews co-CEO Susan Swain:
The fact that people could actually see their elected representatives in their living room — and now on their phones — was a fundamental change. In the past, people might pull the lever every two years for their member of Congress and, if they were super engaged, might read a newsletter that came in the mail or go to an occasional town hall meeting.
This meant that any time you were interested, you could watch what your member of Congress had to say. Prior to television in Congress, the only time that members really got attention is if they had big names like Kennedy or if they did something outrageous, either positively or negatively, or if they were a member of the leadership.
C-Span’s relevance comes in the form of not only all of the events that we cover every day but within minutes after we televise them, they are digitized and stored on our video archives. It has 250,000 hours of political video that we’ve covered since 1987.

That means a member of Congress can pull a clip from their hearing and send it out to constituents. It also means that people on social media or late-night comedians have immediate access to this.

I think most people who are in their 20s or younger, if they have an experience with C-Span it is through social media, it is through the late-night comedians. The creation of our video library in 1987 was every bit as significant as the original creation of C-Span.

Monday, March 18, 2019

The Elite College Premium

Many posts have discussed inequality in higher education

Christopher Ingraham at WP writes about the college admissions fraud scandal.
 relying on falsified test scores to get their children into highly selective colleges.
Federal data on post-collegiate earnings underscore why some people might be willing to risk a possible felony to get their children into the “right” schools: Graduates of the nation’s elite universities enjoy a significant wage premium relative to the typical college grad. This is particularly true at the top end of the income spectrum, where the richest graduates of the nation’s top-tier colleges can earn more than double what their peers at other schools typically make.
Graduates of the nation’s four-year colleges and universities can expect a median annual salary of about $44,000 by the 10th year after they first enrolled in college, according to a Washington Post analysis of data from the Department of Education. By comparison, that number jumps to $84,000 for the top 10 percent of college grads.

But if we look only at a select group of elite colleges — say, the eight schools reportedly targeted by the defendants in the Department of Justice’s Operation Varsity Blues investigation — those numbers change dramatically. The median graduate of those schools (which include Georgetown, Stanford, UCLA, the University of San Diego, the University of Southern California, the University of Texas at Austin, Wake Forest and Yale) can expect to earn about $73,000 a decade after they first enroll. And those who finish in the top 10 percent at those schools typically earn about $161,000 — nearly double the income of the top 10 percent of graduates of the rest of the nation’s colleges.
One important caveat is that the data are derived from students who received some form of federal financial aid during their undergraduate years. The roughly 15 percent of students who don’t need assistance aren’t included in the calculations. If those students were included, it would likely shift these distributions upward, although it’s unclear whether that would result in a larger or smaller earnings gap between graduates of top schools and everyone else.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Irish-American Heritage Month

From the Census:
The U.S. Congress proclaimed March as Irish-American Heritage Month in 1991, and the president issues a proclamation commemorating the occasion each year.
Originally a religious holiday to honor St. Patrick, who introduced Christianity to Ireland in the fifth century, St. Patrick’s Day has evolved into a celebration of all things Irish. The world’s first St. Patrick’s Day parade occurred on March 17, 1762, in New York City, featuring Irish soldiers serving in the English military. This parade became an annual event, with President Truman attending in 1948.
The following facts are made possible by the invaluable responses to the U.S. Census Bureau’s surveys. We appreciate the public’s cooperation as we continuously measure America’s people, places and economy.

Did You Know?

32.6 million or 10.1%
The number and percentage of U.S. residents who claimed Irish ancestry in 2017. Source:  2013-2017 American Community Survey
The number of foreign-born U.S. residents who reported Ireland as their birthplace in 2017.Source: 2013-2017 American Community Survey 
31.1% The county with among the highest percentage of people who claimed Irish ancestry in 2017 was Plymouth County, Mass.Source: 2013-2017 American Community Survey 
20,590The estimated number of U.S. residents who spoke Irish Gaelic.Source: 2009-2013 American Community Survey

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Jefferson, Adams, Citizenship, Friendship

Alexander Khan at National Review:
Citizenship in America is in a troubling state. In 2015, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni conducted a survey of college graduates which found that only 28.4 percent could name James Madison as the father of the Constitution. Thirty-nine percent did not know that Congress had the war power, and roughly 45 percent did not know the length of congressional terms. In 2017, the Annenberg Public Policy Center found that 37 percent of Americans could not name any of the rights in the First Amendment, and that only 26 percent could name all three branches of government. Gallup poll results from 2018 reveal that young Americans’ views of capitalism and socialism have switched since 2010, with only 45 percent of respondents now professing a positive view of the capitalist system. A November 2018 YouGov poll revealed that Americans’ patriotism and knowledge of civics was troublingly low. More recently, in January 2019, Gallup released survey results which showed that 30 percent of younger Americans, a record high, would like to permanently leave the U.S. Unfortunately, these results are not shocking. Each new poll extends the long line of depressing findings.
 While liberal education will never be a cure-all for the disgraceful state of civic life and historical knowledge in America, its renewal in a spirit of friendship is essential if we seek to tackle our citizenship deficit. Students educated in such an environment will not only deeply understand the ideas and principles of the Founders and of Americans throughout history, but they will also come to understand their own connection to those ideas. They will feel invested in the future of their country and in the principles that form its foundation. This educational environment will also affect the concern and interest students have in what government does, how it acts, and the way in which they see their rights and duties. Robust engagement in the classroom naturally translates to the open marketplace of ideas and the active world of citizenship. These students will serve as examples to their fellow citizens, expanding the education of the classroom to the entire country. In the fight to restore civic life and knowledge in America, the rebuilding of liberal education in the spirit of Jefferson and Adams’s friendship is an essential component.