Saturday, January 20, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: College cost rating plan needs rethink

Parents and students can always use more information about graduation rates, tuition costs and student debt as they wade through the college selection process. The Obama administration's efforts to force colleges and universities to report those sorts of measures to the federal government will help families facing difficult choices and prod schools to pay more attention to controlling costs and better preparing graduates for the workforce. But the administration should think twice about a simplistic rating system that is raising legitimate concerns among university presidents.

The Obama administration's development of a rating system based on specific measurements is a response to the pressures of escalating tuition, staggering student debt and a new emphasis on graduates' earnings potential. The system focuses on measures of access, affordability and student outcomes, and it would grant federal aid based on ratings determined by those measures. Students attending higher-rated institutions could receive larger Pell Grants and more affordable loans. Colleges and universities receive $150 billion each year in federal loans and grants. In 2013-14, more than 633,000 students in Florida were Pell recipients.

The rating system expected to be released later this year attempts to summarize a large amount of complex information. Under the plan, colleges will be given ratings determined by factors such as graduation rates, amount of student debt and earning potential of graduates. Based on these reports, colleges will be given grades like "excellent," "good," "fair," or "poor." But that flawed system would have unintended consequences. It could lead to inaccurate and unfair comparisons of more than 7,000 colleges and universities of varying missions, sizes and demographics. For example, institutions that serve low-income and underperforming students might be denied the federal financial aid that their student bodies desperately need.

As the cost of a diploma continues to rise, there is reason to increase pressure on schools to become more efficient and to provide more information about true costs. But rating colleges based on the earnings potential of their graduates would downgrade the value of a liberal arts education. Lower-paying public service careers that have a longer-term payoff — such as public education, social work or government — could be penalized. It's even unclear how accurate the income data would be, because the reporting by graduates would be optional and incomplete at best.

Parents and students should have as many credible resources as possible when determining which college best meets their goals and financial situation. The Obama administration can help gather those statistics in a central place, but it should reconsider the value of ratings that would be unfair to colleges and misleading to families.

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Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

The death last fall of a 20-year-old Florida State University fraternity pledge revealed pervasive dangerous behavior within the school’s Greek system. Andrew Coffey, a Pi Kappa Phi pledge, died from alcohol poisoning after an off-campus party, and a...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: Confronting racial distrust in St. Petersburg, one conversation at a time

The St. Petersburg Police Department’s heavy presence in Midtown on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the community animosity it stirred have raised a familiar, troubling question: Can St. Petersburg’s racial divisions ever be reconciled?That big ideal ...
Published: 01/19/18
William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

A surge of Democrats seeking local legislative offices and hoping for a "blue wave" in the 2018 election continued last week, led by Bob Buesing filing to run again versus state Sen. Dana Young, R-Tampa.In addition:• Heather Kenyon Stahl of Tampa has...
Published: 01/19/18
Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

The smiles, applause and at least one hug belied the grim impetus for a gathering last week at a neighborhood center in Tampa — the Seminole Heights killings.The Tampa Police Department held a ceremony to thank those who helped in the investigation t...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: State’s warning shot should get attention of Hillsborough schools

The state Board of Education hopefully sent the message this week with its warning shot about the slow pace of the turnaround at Hillsborough County’s low-performing schools.The board criticized the school system for failing to replace administrators...
Published: 01/18/18
Updated: 01/19/18
Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

The Florida Legislature’s abrupt move to strip the University of South Florida St. Petersburg of its hard-earned separate accreditation and transform it back into a satellite of the major research university lacks detail and an appreciation for histo...
Published: 01/18/18

Another voice: Self-dealing by nursing home owners threatens patient care

The outsourcing of logistical support services, which became commonplace in the U.S. military in the 1990s and later was adopted by state prison systems, has now come to dominate the nursing home industry. And while nursing homes, unlike the military...
Published: 01/17/18
Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Three years into a crisis with its sewer system, St. Petersburg has a dandy new idea for dealing with the environmental fallout of dumping dirty water into the aquifer. Instead of committing to banning the outlawed practice, a consultant suggested th...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

A substitute teacher at a Plant City elementary school berated a class of fourth graders — and then the school principal. Another compared a student to a stripper. Others were caught napping, hitting children, making sexual remarks, giving students b...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

For the longest time, injured workers in Florida were basically at the mercy of the whims of employers to treat them fairly. A 2003 law aimed at reducing the cost of workers’ compensation coverage for businesses had the desired impact, but it also di...
Published: 01/16/18