Friday Roundup: UW is ‘great value,’ shrinking labor participation, flourishing small towns, education and careers

There are always a few items we’ve read during the week that deserve more attention but don’t make it into our regular posts. So we bundle them for the Friday roundup.

Here’s this week’s bundle:

Seattle Times: UW is a great value, magazine analysis shows

A new ranking that sizes up how well the nation’s colleges do at providing value for the money gives several Washington colleges and universities top marks.

The ranking, by Money magazine, rates the University of Washington Seattle as 13th among 711 public and private colleges and universities.

Also in the top 200: Washington State University and Western Washington University.

Money’s analysis is a value ranking, one that evaluates colleges on educational quality, affordability and alumni success. It highlights those schools that provide graduates a boost in the job market and offers them the best odds of real-world success, and it takes into account 27 factors in three categories: quality of education, affordability and outcomes.

Stateline: While Most Small Towns Languish, Some Flourish 

In several Western and Southern states, small towns are growing quickly as fast-growing metro areas swallow up more outlying towns, according to a Statelineanalysis of census estimates.

Between 2015 and 2016, the growth was particularly strong in small towns in Utah, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Florida, Idaho, Delaware, Texas, Arizona, North Carolina and South Carolina, where small towns grew around 1 percent or more.

During the same period, 54 percent of small towns across the U.S. lost population, and most others saw only limited growth.

 Manhattan Institute (Glaeser): Why the Portion of Americans with Jobs Keeps Shrinking

What could change this dynamic? The first step is to improve Americans’ skills. The jobless rate is about 8 percent for prime-age men with a college degree or more but more than 22 percent for men with only a high school diploma or less. We have levers that can improve educational outcomes, like the very best early-childhood programs and charter schools. Such innovations should be expanded and made better through competition and evaluation.

We should also improve the way that we do vocational education. The most ambitious students avoid getting tracked onto a vocational path, and they — and their parents — want schools that focus on college readiness. Consequently, less fortunate or struggling students often get segregated into these vocational centers.

A more effective approach might be to keep students in college-readiness-oriented schools and experiment with out-of-school vocational training.

Investors Business Daily (Furchtgott-Roth): How High Taxes, Generous Welfare and Lack of Training Keep Millions of Available Jobs Unfilled

To solve the mismatch between job openings and job candidates, community colleges can increase the earnings power — and thus, the upward economic mobility — of their students. To maximize students’ opportunities, the American Association of Community Colleges has implemented a Pathways Project in 30 colleges to guide students into better-earning careers.

The analysis of the AACC Pathways Project, by Columbia University researchers David Jenkins, Hana Lahr and John Fink, shows that students benefit from information about the educational options open to them; the consequences of their choices in terms of their effect on completing a program leading to higher earnings, the time and cost of completing the program, and the need to enhance their academic preparation; sources of financial aid; and sources of supportive services.