Digging into diplomas — Corinthian bankruptcy battle brewing — Presidential library to be built in Chicago (Politico)

By Caitlin Emma

DIGGING INTO DIPLOMAS: The U.S. is on track for a 90 percent high school graduation rate by 2020 after hitting a record high 81 percent this year. That’s according to the GradNation campaign’s sixth annual report released by America’s Promise Alliance, the Alliance for Excellent Education and others. The 10 largest states, including California, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina, are driving progress, the report says. A quarter of the nation’s largest school districts also made significant improvements, largely signifying gains for low-income students and students of color. But declining or stagnating graduation rates in New York, Illinois, Washington and Arizona could threaten future progress, the report says. And while the gap in graduation rates between low-income students and their wealthier peers narrowed in 28 states, it widened in 18. North Dakota saw the largest increase of nearly 8 percentage points. More: http://bit.ly/1QD65vH.

DIGGING INTO DIPLOMAS: The U.S. is on track for a 90 percent high school graduation rate by 2020 after hitting a record high 81 percent this year. That’s according to the GradNation campaign’s sixth annual report released by America’s Promise Alliance, the Alliance for Excellent Education and others. The 10 largest states, including California, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina, are driving progress, the report says. A quarter of the nation’s largest school districts also made significant improvements, largely signifying gains for low-income students and students of color. But declining or stagnating graduation rates in New York, Illinois, Washington and Arizona could threaten future progress, the report says. And while the gap in graduation rates between low-income students and their wealthier peers narrowed in 28 states, it widened in 18. North Dakota saw the largest increase of nearly 8 percentage points. More: http://bit.ly/1QD65vH. — Speaking of high schools, the School for the Talented and Gifted in Dallas is the No. 1 high school in the country for the fourth year in a row, according to U.S. News & World Report. That’s followed by BASIS Scottsdale in Arizona at No. 2 and Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia, at No. 3. The rankings: http://bit.ly/1jt3bXA.

— On a related note, a study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that high school students who scored well enough on two Advanced Placement exams to earn college credit improved their four-year college graduation rate by as much as 5 percentage points: http://bit.ly/1zWiSFr.

— Another NBER study looked at in-state tuition for undocumented college students and degree attainment. When the City University of New York started charging undocumented students out-of-state tuition in spring 2002, the system saw an immediate 8 percent drop in senior enrollment, the report says. The state legislature restored in-state rates by that fall. Researchers found that, among seniors who started the semester before in-state tuition was pulled, the number of students who earned their degree dropped by 22 percent. But the sticker shock didn’t really affect degree attainment for seniors who had been enrolled for at least a year. More: http://bit.ly/1K2qRUO.

GOOD TUESDAY MORNING, MAY 12. I’d like to wish my mom a very happy birthday! And I’d also like to ask her not to eat all the frosting off her birthday cake [http://bit.ly/1lcMGkT] before I get home this weekend to celebrate. Love you, mom! Don’t forget to send tips and amusing GIFs to cemma@politico.com or @caitlinzemma. Send events to: educalendar@politicopro.com. Follow us on Twitter: @Morning_Edu and @POLITICOPro.

CORINTHIAN BANKRUPTCY BATTLE BREWING: Lawyers seeking a special committee to represent students in Corinthian Colleges’ bankruptcy proceedings say the half-million people or so who attended schools owned by the for-profit chain could have up to $25 billion in damage claims. (Separately, the Education Department has said the maximum taxpayer liability for closed-school student loan discharges stands at $214 million.) The U.S. Trustee will decide whether to appoint such a group to work alongside the typical trade creditors’ committee that’s required under U.S. Bankruptcy Code. The students have unique claims, from predatory lending to devalued degrees, said Scott Gautier, an attorney at Robins Kaplan LLP and bankruptcy counsel for the ad-hoc student group pushing for a seat at the table. He said a committee “will help students establish their right to redress for both the debts incurred, and the consequential damages that have been visited upon the student population.”

IT’S CHICAG-O: The Barack Obama presidential library will be built in his adopted hometown of Chicago, First Lady Michelle Obama said in a video message posted online today by the Barack Obama Foundation. A bid by the University of Chicago, where Obama taught constitutional law before turning to politics, beat out rival proposals from Hawaii and New York to host the location of Obama’s presidential archives and museum. The South Side location — in the Hyde Park neighborhood Obama represented as a state senator hosted by the school where he taught law — had long seemed like the obvious favorite. Obama’s motorcade even took a detour to drive by the area during his last trip to Chicago in February, and the local papers have been reporting that the choice was a fait accompli. But in Chicago itself, the announcement closes a chapter on months of political drama. [http://politi.co/1vkkm9Q] The foundation’s next steps are picking an architect and intensifying fundraising to pay for the center. The Obamas won’t help with that effort until after he leaves office, the White House said Monday. The foundation has promised to adhere to Obama’s campaign pledge not to accept money from lobbyists or PACs — at least before Jan. 20, 2017. More from POLITICO’s Sarah Wheaton: http://politi.co/1bM3GyT

MORE TO DEBT THAN DEMOGRAPHICS: For-profit colleges may enroll larger proportions of high-risk borrowers, but that doesn’t explain away the sector’s high rates of student loan debt and default, new research from the Woodstock Institute suggests. Even holding demographic and financial circumstances like tuition, grants and expected family contribution constant, students at for-profit colleges borrow money more and more often than their peers at publics and nonprofits, the paper shows. Student and institutional characteristics have a mixed effect on the size of debt burdens — and the exception is African Americans at four-year colleges, who borrow at equal rates regardless of institution type. But despite comprising the majority of students at for-profit colleges, low-income ones pay the most at those institutions after grant aid — nearly $10,000 in 2011-12, compared to about $2,000 at nonprofit four-years and $0 at publics. For-profits’ business practices and financial incentives may be behind the high debt, the paper suggests: http://bit.ly/1G0nQ53.

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