> By Juliana Keeping and David Hebert, Arnold Ventures
Just in time for graduation season, AV’s Torie Ludwin discusses why today's college students deserve the support they need to get to graduation day — and what's at stake when we fall short.
Congratulations to all the college seniors who’ve made the journey across epochs, lab tables, quadrangles, cram sessions, and innumerable pages of reading and writing. You’re a different person than you were when you started. All that time, effort, and cost is paying off with a credential that will give you more earning power than having a high school diploma alone.
But what about your peers who didn’t complete? Roughly 40% of your classmates are still not done, even six years after starting. They’ve put in the time and the money, but circumstances — family, finances, health, jobs, to name a few — kept them from crossing the finish line. They’re no better off than when they graduated high school — and with student debt, many are even worse off.
Quality higher education degrees vault students toward economic security and stability. When students succeed at school and subsequently in the workforce, society benefits as a whole.
No matter what anyone tells you this May, everyone looks good in a cap and gown. It’s a signifier of a valuable acquired credential — a college diploma. Students who enter college should receive the support they need along the way to get that cap, gown, and credential. And it can be done, with college completion programs proven to work.
— Torie Ludwin, communications manager
Related: Check out this piece from AV's Brontë Forsgren, Evidence-Based Policy analyst, on a new interim report from the City University of New York (CUNY) and Metis Associates that shows promising outcomes from a randomized controlled trial of the college completion program Accelerate, Complete, Engage (ACE). The program, a version of CUNY’s successful Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) model adapted for students pursuing their bachelor’s degree, provides comprehensive financial, academic, and personal supports to primarily low-income students at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
The Unique Value of Women Officers
By Evan Mintz, communications manager
Law enforcement has long been a profession dominated by men, and women remain sorely underrepresented, comprising just 12% of sworn officers in the United States today (and only 3% of leadership roles). But change is on the horizon as law enforcement leaders strive to improve these numbers and help their departments better reflect the communities they have sworn to protect and serve. More than 160 law enforcement agencies across the country have signed on to the 30x30 initiative, which aims to have women serving as 30% of all new recruits by 2030.
Why it Matters: It isn't just about ensuring representation — a necessity for good policing. Research finds that adding women improves policing. A Pew Research Center survey found that women officers are less likely to pull out their weapons and less likely to pursue aggressive tactics. Another study by the National Center for Women and Policing found that women officers are less likely to be named in a lawsuit or citizen complaint, saving taxpayers millions of dollars. A 2017 study said that female officers could make it easier for law enforcement to adapt to changes necessitated by cultural shifts. And researchers have found that women officers achieve better outcomes for crime victims, especially those who are victims of sexual assault.
What's Next: Departments have begun to report policy changes in line with the 30x30 goals, ranging from enlisting more than 50% women in their cohorts to implementing new anti-discrimination policies.
“We’re finally getting some traction," said Maureen McGough, who co-founded 30x30. “There is such a strong evidence base showing women have a unique value in these areas that we care about at this moment in American policing. That's why we're advocating so hard. It's not just about gender parity, it's about public safety as well.”
The Prescription Drug User Fee Act provides roughly half the Food and Drug Administration’s budget to review the pharmaceutical industry’s requests for marketing approval — and it’s up for reauthorization this year.
What’s Happening: On Tuesday, the House Committee on Energy & Commerce subcommittee on health marked up the bill. Notably, prompted by the FDA’s controversial approval of the Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm, the bill includes policies with bipartisan support that strengthen the accelerated approval pathway. As this reauthorization moves forward, Congress has the opportunity to strengthen these provisions further to ensure the Accelerated Approval Program delivers what it was intended to: access to promising therapies now with the promise of future confirmatory evidence of direct patient benefits. The full committee is expected to take up the bill next week.
Why it Matters: In June 2021, the FDA approved Aduhelm — an expensive new drug to treat the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease — despite evidence of severe clinical harms and without any evidence of clinical improvements in patient cognition. It quickly became a flashpoint in the national debate about the tradeoffs between low-quality evidence and high prices.
In this year’s FDA user fee reauthorizing legislation, the House included some commonsense guardrails to ensure timely completion ofconfirmatory trials.Drugs granted accelerated approval must undergo additional confirmatory trials to verify and confirm the drug’s direct clinical benefit. However, there is no strong financial incentive for these so-called confirmatory trials to be conducted in a timely manner as they are required to be by law, and as a result they are often delayed. Recent studies have confirmed this, finding that even when a drug fails to demonstrate its desired clinical benefit in confirmatory trials, the FDA rarely exercises its statutory authority to withdraw the product from the market. The FDA must ensure that these confirmatory trials put patients over profits.
Congress can improve this legislation by automatically withdrawing accelerated approval drugs from the market in the absence of confirmatory evidence, requiring additional rebates be paid to Medicare and Medicaid on accelerated approval drugs until confirmation of direct patient benefits, and preventing the slow creep of lower quality evidence.
What’s Next: As this bill moves forward to full committee consideration next week, we applaud the committee’s ongoing efforts to ensure this reauthorization strikes an appropriate balance between promoting innovation, creating access, and ensuring the safety and efficacy of drugs on the market. We hope that needed reforms continue to be central to this bill as it moves through the legislative process.
Relaunching Data-Driven Justice
By Evan Mintz, communications manager
On Thursday, the National Association of Counties and its partners held a virtual event to reintroduce its Data-Driven Justice (DDJ) initiative, including new tools and learning opportunities that local governments can use to better serve those who frequently come into contact with justice and health systems.
What’s Happening: DDJ was first launched under the Obama administration as an attempt to better use data and share information across government silos to help identify and serve the most vulnerable who routinely cycle through systems without getting lasting support.
Why it Matters: These familiar faces in the health and justice systems drive a significant amount of public resources. For example, Miami identified a core population of less than 100 people who spent nearly 40,000 collective days in jail, emergency rooms, hospitals, and mental health facilities over four years at a cost of $13.7 million. Overall, an estimated 64% of the people in local jails across the country suffer from mental illness, and 68% have a substance use disorder.
What’s Next: Arnold Ventures supported the testing of DDJ strategies at three pilot sites: Johnson County, Iowa; the City of Long Beach, California; and Middlesex County, Massachusetts. These sites crafted their own solutions to better serve the familiar faces in public services and published their own reports on lessons learned — in addition to AV’s overarching playbook on implementing DDJ and helping those in crisis. The National Association of Counties’ new Familiar Faces Initiative will provide resources to more counties to continue this work.
Pulitzers Highlight 'Incarceration, Poverty, and Injustice'
By Evan Mintz, communications manager
The Pulitzer Prizes were announced this week, and criminal justice issues dominated the topics covered by award winners. A free press is critical to holding public institutions accountable, from law enforcement agencies to legislators to the hidden systems that entrench intergenerational poverty. The best of these pieces “deploy tremendous narrative power to deliver the intimate human news that should be at the heart of all our debates around incarceration, poverty, and injustice,” said Pulitzer Board Member Viet Thanh Nguyen, a novelist and professor at Columbia University.
In an op-ed from the NewsOne, Pastor Michael McBride and LIVE FREE Executive Director Dr. Antonio Cediel argue that the issue of gun violence is a public health crisis.
State representatives in Oklahoma are decrying the lack of comprehensive data focusing on criminal justice issues such as pretrial incarceration, efficacy of diversion programs, and trends in initial charging.
A report from The Education Trust finds that men incarcerated in Texas prisons have access to more than triple the number of higher education programs than womendo. The disparity is highlighted in this story by The 19th.
NBC reports that the U.S. firearm homicide rate in 2020 was at its highest level in more than 25 years, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
More than 107,000 Americans died of drug overdoses last year, setting another tragic record in the nation’s escalating overdose epidemic.
A recent story in The Washington Post exposes a cache of more than 1.4 million records that illustrate how aggressively opioid manufacturers have marketed its product to doctors.
Health Affairs Forefront is hosting a blog series that looks at the challenges faced by America’s “dual-eligible” population.
MedPage Today outlines how organ procurement organizations are trying to block overdue Congressional action by misrepresenting their data.
Many educational certificate programs don’t lead to better-paying jobs, but colleges are pushing back against a proposal to remove federal funding for them, finds The Hechinger Report. Read FREOPP’s return on investment analysis for higher education to learn more about gainful employment.
The nonprofit IHEP is working with colleges to help re-engage students to get to graduation day, Forbes reports.
John Katzman comments in Inside Higher Ed that the Government Accountability Office's report on online program managers (OPMS), which act as a third party vendor for schools to recruit and admit students into online degree programs, outlines only the start of a necessary critical eye on this sector.
Data from the DAF Research Collaborative is shedding light on the funding habits of donor-advised funds (DAFs) — and the news strengthens the call for reform. The collaborative found that DAF sponsors in the U.S. — which hold, invest, and manage nearly $160 billion — are giving away much less money than what was previously reported.
Contraceptive Choice and Access
Among low-income women, 23% of contraceptive users said they would use a different method, and 39% of nonusers said they would begin using a method, if cost were not a deciding factor, according to a new study by Guttmacher published in Contraception: X.
The Washington Post reports that Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), said they were opening an investigation into complaints that health plans are denying patient requests for birth control and forcing them to pay out of pocket.
The Knight First Amendment Institute, supported by AV, has forced to light opinions issued by the Office of Legal Counsel, an influential office often called the Supreme Court of the executive branch.
What We're Watching
Racial disparities within the U.S. health care system have unfortunately been part of our nation’s history for centuries, but the recent pandemic brought these issues into even greater focus. That reality is at the heart of the new documentary, “The Color of Care.” Executive-produced by Oprah Winfrey, the film chronicles how people of color suffer from systematically substandard health care in the United States. “This film is my way of doing something, with the intention that the stories we share serve as both a warning and foster a deeper understanding of what changes need to take place to better serve us all,” Winfrey said. The documentary film, which is airing on the Smithsonian Channel and YouTube, is available throughout the month of May.
What We're Listening To
Philadelphia news radio station KYW takes a closer look at “Little Scandinavia,” an innovative pilot project from the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. “Little Scandinavia,” at the Chester State Correctional Institution, remakes one unit of the facility to be more therapeutic and less dehumanizing in the model of Scandinavian prisons, which have some of the lowest recidivism rates in the world. (This video takes you inside the unit.) AV is funding a team of researchers led by Drexel University to evaluate the effects of this innovative approach on both incarcerated people and staff in the unit as well as on post-release outcomes.
On NPR’s “This American Life” episode #770, entitled “My Lying Eyes,” Chana Joffe-Walt interviews Dr. Mary Koss, professor of Public Health at the University of Arizona, on her seminal research on rape prevalence rates; Koss originated the concept of date rape, and she is currently conducting a multi-site replication randomized controlled trial (RCT) of the Enhanced Assess, Acknowledge, Act (EAAA) sexual assault resistance program. EAAA was previously shown, in a well-conducted RCT at three Canadian universities, to reduce the incidence of rape during women’s first year of college by 50%.
Some Final Inspiration
We know times are bleak, but our hearts are warmed by Patron the bomb-sniffing dog receiving a medal from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Congress is holding its first open hearing about UFOs in 50 years. We may finally discover the truth!
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