Links of Note 8/29/16

Donald Trump Taps Indiana Lawmaker’s Staffer to Craft School Choice Plan [Politics K-12 | EdWeek]
Rob Goad, who used to work for Indiana Rep. Luke Messer, is “the first adviser for Trump to focus specifically on education issues,” but apparently he will be focused on “school choice” issues.

How Much Slack is Left in US Labor Markets? [Conversable Economist]
Not much, according to Timothy Taylor. The bad news: “[W]hatever you dislike about the labor market cant really be blamed on the Great Recession any more. So if you’re worried about issues like a lack of jobs for low-wage labor, too many jobs paying at or near the minimum wage, not enough on-the-job training, not enough opportunities for longer-term careers, loss of jobs in sectors like manufacturing and construction, too much part-time work, inequality of the wage distribution, one can no longer argue that the issues will be addressed naturally as the economy recovers.(my emphasis)

Immigration Issues That Trump and Clinton Don’t Talk About (Much) [Roll Call]
“The presidential candidates have primarily butted heads over high-profile topics like border security, Syrian refugee resettlements, deportation policies, and a pathway to legal status for millions of undocumented U.S. residents. But back in Washington, members of Congress have a longer list of immigration issues to tackle, which have received less attention on the campaign trail.” Roll Call‘s list of their concerns includes: Cuban migration, EB-5 investor visas, guest worker programs, biometric entry-exit systems, and special visas for Afghan allies. Addressing immigrant education needs or integrating immigrants into the workforce? Didn’t make the cut.

Brain wiring needed for reading isn’t learned—it’s in place prior to reading [Ars Technica]
“By peeking at brain connections prior to the VWFA forming, doctors may be able to anticipate years in advance if kids will have reading difficulties or disorders such as dyslexia.”

Links of Note 8/18/16

Launching a new semi-regular feature today: occasional posts that simply compile links to announcements, new research and other news about adult education or tangentially related topics (probably more of the latter), with little to no commentary from me to get in your way. Just click and go. There are those who will describe these kinds of posts as “curated links.” I’m not one of them, but if you are, then you have the basic idea.

I welcome your suggestions.

In Many Courtrooms, Bad Interpreters Can Mean Justice Denied [Pew/Stateline]
“Because there are so many U.S. residents — roughly 25.6 million — who have limited proficiency in English, the credibility of the nation’s justice system relies on competent interpreters.” I witnessed this problem firsthand in Boston courts 25 20 years ago; it seemed to me that non-English speakers were often targeted for minor traffic violations. Many were frankly terrified and the lack of translation services certainly didn’t help.

DACA at Four: Participation in the Deferred Action Program and Impacts on Recipients [MPI]

  • “Examining DACA application rates against the MPI population estimates suggests that 63 percent of the immediately eligible population had applied as of March 2016; the rate fell to 48 percent when including the share that did not appear to meet the educational criteria but may have enrolled in a qualifying adult education population.”
  • “[T]he vast majority eligible to renew the two-year DACA grant have done so—93 percent MPI estimates.”

Lessons From a Year Teaching Digital Literacy [Pacific Standard]

Veteran Hillary Clinton Education Adviser Named to Candidate’s Transition Team [Politics K-12 – Education Week]

Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton Say They’ll Ease the Burden of Child-Care Costs [Real Time Economics – WSJ]
Summary of the two major party candidates’ proposals.

Overlooked: Women and Jails in an Era of Reform [VERA]
“Women in jail are the fastest growing correctional population in the country—increasing 14-fold between 1970 and 2014. Yet there is surprisingly little research on why so many more women wind up in jail today. This report examines what research does exist on women in jail in order to begin to reframe the conversation to include them.”

Two Lingering Suspicions About Economic Statistics [Bloomberg View]
Helpful primer (for me, anyway) on data smoothing (such as the seasonal adjustments made by the BLS to unemployment data) and “Pollyanna creep,” defined here as the likelihood that changes in economic indicator measures/calculations that make the economy look better are more likely to be implemented than changes that do not, resulting in a cumulative effect that is increasingly removed from reality. “[C]hanges made in the calculation of inflation over the past quarter-century… have come under the most fire.”



2015 NRS Education Function Levels UpdateLast month the Department of Education proposed several modifications to the learning objectives associated with the educational functioning levels in the National Reporting System (NRS), the accountability system for adult education programs that received federal funds through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. The changes are intended to “reflect the adult educational demands of the 21st Century.”

Here is a link to the proposed changes: Revised Educational Functioning Level Descriptors.

By law, the Department must provide the general public and Federal agencies with an opportunity to comment. If you are so inclined, head on over to and press the “Comment Now!” button. Comments are due by March 16th.

And hey, remember that terrible budget for adult education programs we told you about last week? Turns out there is an opportunity to comment on it:

In the coming weeks, Secretary Duncan will testify before Congress on the President’s budget proposal, but before he goes, he wants to hear from you. In the form below, tell us what the budget means for you, so he can share that message when he testifies before Congress.

Generally speaking, the President’s budget has good things in it for education, so I think they are probably expecting words of support for the increases to the education budget that they are proposing. But I don’t see any reason why one couldn’t use this opportunity to voice concerns about those programs that did not receive an increase. Head over to “Tell Us How the Budget Affects You” to comment. Again, if you are so inclined.

Finally, while it’s too late to submit comments to the  White House Task Force on New Americans, you might be interested in reading some of the comments that were submitted. A few groups have shared their comments with me privately, so I can’t share them here, but the National Skills Coalition did publish their comments, and they’re worth a look.

Immigration Reality Check

I realize most of the debate over the President’s immigration plan unveiled last week is going to focus on the the issue as to whether the President has the legal authority to unilaterally suspend deportation on the scale that he is proposing. But it’s also important to remember why something needs to be done. We have a huge and growing backlog in immigration cases in this country, and desperately need better guidelines for prosecutors to use in deciding whether to pursue deportation. From an article in the National Law Journal:

There were 421,972 cases pending in the nations 58 immigration courts as of the end of October — an increase of more than 22 percent from around the same time period in 2013, according to data released this week by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.

… [T]he backlog of cases in immigration courts has been on the rise since the 2006 fiscal year, when there were 168,827 pending cases. In June 2011, John Morton, head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at the time, issued a memorandum explaining that the agency lacked resources to go after every violation; instead, he said, the government should “prioritize its efforts.”

…Philip Wolgin, a senior policy analyst on the Center for American Progress’ immigration policy team, said the Morton memo didn’t work as planned. The language was “vague,” he said, and didn’t have clear enough directives about when prosecutors should stop pursuing low-priority matters.

“…The biggest problem is when ICE is indiscriminate about who it puts into removal proceedings,” [Peter Asaad, an immigration lawyer and managing director of Immigration Solutions Group in Washington] said. “The whole point here is to make it less indiscriminate.”

This is also important to keep in mind when certain members of Congress talk about using the appropriations process to block the President’s order. Congress doesn’t provide enough funding to deal with the immigration case backlog we already have, so any effort by Congress to block the President by starving the agencies responsible for enforcement is only going to make the problem worse.