Freshmen and seniors at about 200 colleges across the U.S. take a little-known test every year to measure how much better they get at learning to think. The results are discouraging.
At more than half of schools, at least a third of seniors were unable to make a cohesive argument, assess the quality of evidence in a document or interpret data in a table, The Wall Street Journal found after reviewing the latest results from dozens of public colleges and universities that gave the exam between 2013 and 2016. (See full results.)
At some of the most prestigious flagship universities, test results indicate the average graduate shows little or no improvement in critical thinking over four years.
While the “disinvestment” narrative is simple and appealing, it collapses under scrutiny. If state funding to public colleges falls by $100 per student, it seems logical to conclude that tuition must go up by $100 to compensate. But that isn’t what happens. In a new study, I compare tuition and direct state funding changes at four-year public colleges between 2004 and 2015. This covers both a boom in state funding (2004-08) and a bust (2008-12). Sure enough, the relationship is quite weak. Less than 5% of changes in state funding pass through to higher tuition. In other words, if funding falls by $100 per student, tuition will rise by less than $5.
Colleges do tend to cut spending when state funding goes down. But the expenditures they cut are usually in areas unrelated to instruction, such as research and administration. When funding goes up, colleges largely plow that money into higher spending rather than return it to students through lower tuition.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has ordered prosecutors to stop settling corporate wrongdoing cases by requiring companies to make donations to third-party groups, a feature of some Obama-era bank settlements that congressional Republicans had opposed.
In a brief, one-page memo dated Monday and released on Wednesday, Mr. Sessions told Justice Department officials they could no longer include any provision in a civil or criminal settlement “that directs or provides for a payment or loan to any non-governmental person or entity that is not a party to the dispute.”
The misuse of settlement slush funds was one of the Obama Administration’s worst practices, which it used to end run Congress’s constitutional spending power. After the GOP took the House and tried to cut spending for liberal interest groups, the Obama Justice Department began to force corporate defendants to allocate a chunk of their financial penalties to those same groups.
Roughly three million potential first-time home buyers have been shut out of the market over the last decade, according to a new study, suggesting the market’s recovery of the past few years could have been stronger.
Tight lending standards and acute shortages of affordable housing in many markets have reduced the pool of potential buyers, particularly among young people, reducing a key component of housing demand.