A Nelson Mandela statue for Washington, DC

This summer the media has paid close attention to the health of Nelson Mandela, global icon of freedom and post-Apartheid South Africa’s first president, who was hospitalized and reported in serious condition and recuperating.  This coincides with the season in which we commemorate the March on Washington and Martin Luther King's "I have a Dream" speech fifty years ago. Fortunately we can use the linkage and look ahead because in late September of 2013 the South African Embassy in Washington, D.C. will unveil a statue of  Mandela.


Parent power – a new education paradigm taking hold

As kids begin heading back to school in California, some will be starting a new year in the nation’s first-ever parent power schools.  Formerly, branded as persistently failing schools, all have undergone transformation thanks to California’s Parent Empowerment law, which passed the legislature in 2010. The law empowers a majority of parents at a failing school to organize, unionize and bring about sweeping changes, which could include new leadership, a new curriculum or transformation into a non-profit charter.


New education models need a new E-Rate

The digital revolution has transformed modern life. Now, it is shaping the future of education. Through advanced technology, educators and innovators are working to empower teachers, transform traditional classrooms and ensure students receive individualized, high-quality instruction. But without faster broadband connections and a modernized E-Rate program, the promise of these next-generation models of education could be at risk.


An American trailblazer leads on

On July 12, 2013, my friend and one-time boss, the former governor of Arizona and current Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, announced that she was stepping down from her post within the administration to become the president of the University of California system.


Get the facts first: A path forward for higher education

Policymakers are drowning in pools of incomparable data. And as policymakers set out to create good education policy, we see a pressing need for a unified effort to build a holistic system of metrics around the issues that matter the most for student success. With a better system in place, policymakers will be able to assess data clearly and compare it across all colleges and universities.


One tax incentive for higher education

We both worked hard at a young age to be able to attend institutions of higher learning. While we both aspired to attend college, what we didn’t dream about was how we would ever afford it. Whether it was working long hours after school to save enough money or accessing the support network available to millions of prospective students through student loans, Pell grants and tax relief, we both found a way to make it work.


Turning 65 and my ah-ha days

I recently received my Medicare card.  Times have changed since I was 18 and headed out to college with my draft card.  Ditto fifteen years ago when my AARP card arrived.

Now that I am approaching my 65th birthday, I have begun assessing my life in new and different ways.  Before 65, I measured my accomplishments in dollars and cents, bricks and mortar, places I had been, people I had met and the children I'd raised.  Post 65, I think I'll be making my assessment more along the lines of how I reacted to the many ah-ha days I encountered along the way.


Yes, Congress can go big on college affordability

For those seeking action on the crisis in college affordability, last week’s stalemate in the Senate on student loan interest rates was disappointing. Absent a compromise, subsidized student loan interest rates will double on July 1. 
But the debate on interest rates and who’s to blame if they double misses the bigger issue. College costs too much. There’s no brake on the incentive for states and colleges to raise tuition and fees. And students, particularly those from low and middle-income families, have to borrow too much to attend.


STEM fund key to U.S. global competitiveness

Although the work is not yet complete, advocates for a national fund for science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) and computer science education have reason to be optimistic.

Washington is well into its much-anticipated discussion on immigration reform, with a proposal for a broad bill under consideration in the Senate and legislation overhauling high-skill immigration recently introduced in the House of Representatives.

Both pieces of legislation include a national fund intended to help the U.S. train more of its students in STEM fields and produce more college graduates able to meet the expected growth in high-skill jobs.  The fund would be created through additional fees paid by companies seeking high-skill H-1B visas and green cards to hire foreign workers.