If you’ve ever wondered if a new teaching strategy, school improvement program, or educational policy actually works from an evidence-based perspective, then consider subscribing to the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) Study Review series. Every month (roughly) the WWC releases short (two-page) reviews of important educational studies by describing the intervention and the findings.
These high level snapshots of research are a quick read and point you to deeper information about the study’s details. In addition – and this is the big value-add! – the WWC provides a rating of each study based on the scientific quality of the research design and analysis.
This post is by guest writer Laura Choi, who is a Senior Research Associate with the SF Fed’s Community Development department. Laura researches a variety of issues aimed at improving economic opportunities for low- and moderate-income communities. Read her full bio here.
With graduation season upon us, it’s a great time to get your students thinking about the future. There’s no question that a college degree is becoming more and more of a necessity in today’s economy. A recent Econcepts blog post highlighted new research from the SF Fed showing that a college degree is a worthwhile investment for the average student as it leads to higher lifetime earnings.
At the same time, the news is filled with stories of individuals struggling to repay their student loans, and President Obama just announced new executive actions to “lift the burden of crushing student loan debt.”
But student debt doesn’t have to be crushing or scary, and a little information can go a long way in helping students make sound financial decisions when it comes to financing higher education.
Here are a few ideas that can help your students get a better understanding of student debt.
Money. We use it daily, whether electronically or as cash (the demise of which is greatly exaggerated). We are all are familiar with it in its current form. But how much do you know about the history of money? Use these five surprising facts to help history come alive for your students through currency.
1. Before the Civil War, paper money could be issued by nearly anyone
Private Bank Note, Drover’s Bank, Salt Lake City, Utah, $3, 1856
Between 1837 and 1866, a period now often called the “Free Banking Era,” lax federal and state banking laws permitted virtually anyone to open a bank and issue currency. Paper money was issued by states, cities, counties, private banks, railroads, stores, and churches. In the 1860s, an estimated 8,000 different state banks were circulating bank notes in denominations from ½ cent to $20,000!
These notes came in a variety of sizes, colors, and designs, and that combined with an environment of uneven regulations from area to area is widely considered to have increased the public’s appetite for centralized banking regulation.
As the American population moved Westward, some of the issuing institutions earned the dubious nickname “wildcat banks,” in reference to their remote locations, more accessible to wildcats than people. The Free Banking Era ended with the passing of the National Bank Act of 1863.
If you’re looking for a quick start into the issue of income inequality, our new DataPost series might just do the trick. The series uses a fairly simple comparison to define income inequality and chart that comparison over time. The full series includes: U.S. Household Incomes: A Snapshot, Median Household Incomes: Life in the Middle, and Income Inequality: Measuring the Gap.
To introduce the idea of income equality to your students, consider using the following three charts.
1. Income Distribution
The first place to start the discussion is by taking a look at the distribution of U.S. household incomes. The chart below gives the percentage of U.S. households in each income category. At the lowest end of the distribution, 3.4% of American households earned less than $5,000 in 2012. At the highest end of the distribution, 4.5% of American households earned $200,000 or more in 2012.
There are some interesting things to note about the shape of this distribution. First, there are more households in the lower income categories than you might expect. In a normal distribution – think the bell shaped curve – values tend to pile up in the middle. Here, though, there are greater concentrations at the low end of the distribution.