|June 6, 2016||Posted by M. P. under Education|
In the midst of commencement season, there is good news from the America’s Promise Alliance regarding high school graduation rates in the United States. In 2014, the rate hit a record high of 82.3 percent, with a reduction in the number of schools with low graduation rates. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 69 percent of new high school graduates continue their education at a college or university. Unfortunately, the cost of attending public two-and-four year colleges continues to increase, while state funding for these institutions remains below pre-recession levels.
A May 2016 brief from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explores how the cuts to higher education funding have resulted in these ever-increasing costs being passed on to students and families. Twenty states have cut funding by 20 percent or more since the recession. In Pennsylvania, per-student funding is 33 percent less than it was during 2007-08, even as tuition has increased.
Nationally, tuition increased nearly 30 percent from 2007-08 to 2014-15, while the median income decreased by 6.5 percent during that same time period. Tuition alone for an incoming student at my (private 4-year) alma mater increased 348 percent since my own freshman year (total inflation between January of that year January 2016 calculated to be 86 percent). Not surprisingly, the amount of debt that students graduate from public four-year colleges with has increased by 18 percent since 2007-08. To put this in perspective, the authors point out that in the 6 years prior to the recession the average amount of student debt increased just one percent.
A concern raised in this brief, Funding Down, Tuition Up State Cuts to Higher Education Threaten Quality and Affordability at Public Colleges, is that while tuition and fees have increased, faculty positions have been reduced or replaced by part-time instructors, classes have been cut, services for the student body have been scaled back, and some campuses have closed altogether. Students and families are taking on more debt to meet the increased costs but appear to be getting less.
Analyses and opinions vary on what has led to the jump in the cost of higher education and on any possible remedies. Perhaps it is time to adjust a system that has been in place for too long – before another bubble situation (similar to mortgages). Perhaps student success outcomes should be tied to funding? There are no easy answers. Yet, although anecdotal, there seems to be a swath of the population that make too much for their academically successful teenager to receive aid, but too little to not require high 5-figure loans to off set the expense of a bachelor’s degree. Is this the new normal?
SAMHSA’s 2015 Behavioral Health Barometer: Pennsylvania Offers Look at Substance Use, Mental Health Treatment
|April 2, 2016||Posted by M. P. under Behavorial Health, Children and Family, Drug and Alcohol|
Earlier this year The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) published the third edition of their Behavioral Health Barometer: Pennsylvania – part of series of reports at both the national and the state level that provides a “snapshot of behavioral health.” The Barometer pulls data on youth and adult behavioral health markers from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services, the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, the Monitoring the Future survey, and services used by Medicare enrollees. This free report is a great source of data for needs assessments and grant proposals, be sure to download the national and state (of your choice) report at the SAMHSA website.
Below are data from the report on aspects of youth and adolescent behavioral health and substance use. Overall, the state percentages are comparable to national percentages, with higher proportions in reported cigarette use and binge drinking.
For Pennsylvania in 2013/2013-14:
- approximately 84,000 adolescents (12 to 17 years old), just under 9 percent of all adolescents, used illegal drugs during the month prior.
- 6.6 percent of adolescents used cigarettes within the last month – this is higher than the national data point of 5.2 percent.
- 16.5 percent of adolescents binged on alcohol within the last month – again, higher than the national percentage of 14 percent.
- 198,088 youth (under 18 years of age) received services from the public mental health system, with 63.5 percent reporting improvement post-treatment, lower than the national data point of 69.5 percent.
Report Citation: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Behavioral Health Barometer: Pennsylvania, 2015. HHS Publication No. SMA–16–Baro–2015–PA. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2015.
|February 22, 2016||Posted by M. P. under Health, Research||
Although it is preventable, dental disease is perhaps the most prevalent chronic childhood illness in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20 percent of children 5 to 11 years old have one tooth with untreated decay, a situation that may lead to more severe health problems. Youth from lower-income families have a higher rate of untreated tooth decay than their peers.
As dental care has long been a component of public health policy, RAND examined access to dental care across Pennsylvania using a series of indicators to determine the distribution and available of dentists and dental hygienists. Two counties (Potter and Juniata) did not meet the guideline of full-time dentist per number of residents. Other counties varied greatly across study indicators. A sample of findings:
- Two counties do not have dentists that accept Medicaid.
- 58 percent of counties in Pennsylvania do not have pediatric dental specialists.
- High unemployment rates were associated with fewer providers of dental care.
- The Head Start program appears to be a successful method in getting dental care to children who might not otherwise have access to it.
Citation: Baird, Matthew D., Michelle K. Baird and Joseph V. Vesely. Access to Dental Providers in Pennsylvania: Exploration of the County-Level Distribution of Dental Providers and Populations in 2013. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2016. http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR1351.html.