D.C. Intern R.J. Wicks gives a real life account explaining what students need to succeed in post-secondary education.
A classmate of mine from high school, Ava* was excited to attend her dream school set in an ideal location with a top program for her major. Ava shared the background of most of the other students at my high school — a low-income, first-generation student of color. Ava was a smart and focused student, maintaining high honors throughout high school.
When she got to her college campus, she had anticipated the academic challenges. But it was the financial and emotional challenges that proved most difficult. The absence of guidance and understanding from her family, combined with the academic rigor and social pressures, ultimately overwhelmed Ava. Tuition and living costs only added to those burdens. When she discovered her family was struggling even more than she had realized and unable to provide financial support for the next semester, she felt helpless. By Thanksgiving break, Ava ended up leaving her dream school, and she eventually dropped out altogether.
This narrative is all too common for other students from my high school. As our school was ranked first in the district and among the top five high schools in the state, we as students were constantly told that we were bright, special, and that we would have opportunities to pursue our dreams because of our hard work. Instead, we learned that hard work alone was not enough to obtain a college education. With so many other new challenges on the horizon once we entered college, we needed holistic support — regular guidance on coursework, tutoring to help catch up, even an emergency grant to assist with unexpected costs — from our colleges to be able to continue. Without it, Ava — like millions of students — slipped through the cracks.
(*We have changed Ava’s name to protect her privacy.)
The Bipartisan Movement
to Improve Public Defense
By Thomas Hanna, communications manager
The right to an adequate defense in criminal proceedings is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, and the Supreme Court has affirmed that this right applies to everyone regardless of their economic status. However, public defense systems in many states are faced with a dual crisis of underfunding and overwork.
What’s Happening: In June, the Oregon legislature passed a bill, signed into law by Gov. Tina Kotek, that overhauls the way the state provides lawyers to people who can’t afford them. The new law increases the number of public defenders available and improves transparency and oversight of the system that provides counsel. Oregon is not the only state to take steps to address the public defense crisis this past legislative session. From Pennsylvania to North Carolina, Mississippi and Michigan, there is a growing bipartisan movement in the states to reform public defense, AV director of criminal justice Rebecca Silber and manager of criminal justice Julia Durnan write in a new op-ed for Governing.
Why it Matters: Like in other states, Oregon does not have enough public defenders to represent the clients in need. According to a 2022 report from the American Bar Association, the state is short about 1,300 attorneys. This increases the burden on public defenders in the state, who have very little time to meet clients before representing them at their first court appearance. Often, after a few minutes’ conversation about options, a client pleads guilty, and it’s time for the next case.
“It’s a liberty issue, an equal protection issue, a due process issue, and an individual rights issue,” says Silber in an AV story covering the legislative success in Oregon. “What's so exciting about the bill in Oregon is the comprehensiveness and size of the reform, including funding and restructuring the system.”
What’s Next: As states join this growing movement to improve public defense, they should be guided by two important considerations, Silber and Durnan write. First, reforms should be structural in nature, directly confronting and addressing geographic, racial, and economic disparities. Second, they should be predicated on, and paired with, strong research and data collection.
Clinical trials help clinicians understand what works and what doesn’t in health care. However, trials often take place at universities and hospitals, which aren’t always easily accessible. Decentralizing clinical trials could make the process easier for trial participants, improving enrollment and building study populations that better reflect actual patients.
What’s Happening: The Food and Drug Administration has issued draft guidance on decentralized clinical trials for drugs, biological products, and devices. In response, AV filed a letter encouraging the FDA to take steps that will ensure strong approval standards.
Why It Matters: The FDA believes centralized clinical trials can be inconvenient for trial participants, place a burden on caregivers, and reduce enrollment among populations with limited access to traditional trial sites. These burdens may make it difficult to recruit elderly or disabled patients who are often the target population for various drugs or products.
KFF published an explainer on the implications of mergers between hospitals and health systems serving different markets.
The University of California College of the Law, San Francisco, an AV grantee, published an article on ways that state oversight can slow consolidation in health care markets and overall address market failures.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University, an AV grantee, published a study in Health Affairs that found hospital prices for commercial plans are twice those for Medicare Advantage plans even when negotiated by the same insurer.
The National Partnership for Women and Families, an AV grantee, released a primer that explains how value-based payment reforms support and incentivize more equitable care.
AV grantee Patients for Affordable Drugs (P4AD) published a report on the pharmaceutical industry’s influence on patient advocacy groups, highlighting how financial relationships with pharma may impact the actions of legitimate patient groups.
The Prison Policy Initiative (PPI), an AV grantee, has released a new brief that compiles research on who fails to appear for court and how jurisdictions react.
Focusing on Philadelphia, The New York Times has published a story on the decades of advocacy that has led to the resentencing and release of a growing number of people originally sentenced to life in prison without parole as a juvenile.
The Center for Gun Violence Solutions at Johns Hopkins University, an AV-grantee, is quoted in a New York Times article about the effort by Governor Bill Lee in Tennessee to address public safety following the mass shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville.
Politico has published a story on what is driving efforts to remove reform-focused prosecutors in jurisdictions across the United States.
In Politico’s Morning Education, AV’s Vice President of Higher Education Kelly McManus called on the Education Department to finish the accountability regulations that they have proposed to address the root cause of student debt and make things better for students and taxpayers.
In his On Ed Tech blog, Phil Hill looks at AV President and CEO Kelli Rhee's recent CNN op-ed on accountability in higher education.
Congressional Research Services released a brief on the return of student loan repayments, highlighting the risks of delinquency and defaults, and issues with student loan servicers.
Colorado vacation towns are dealing with affordable housing challenges as remote workers head for the hills, the New York Times reports.
What We're Listening To
The Center for Health and Wellbeing at Princeton University has released a new episode of the Princeton Pulse podcast, which focuses on treating gun violence as a public health crisis.
KFF Health News released a podcast episode on surprise billing that features AV grantee Patricia Kelmar of the Public Interest Research Group. The podcast uses the bizarre story of three siblings who all took identical ambulance rides stemming from the same car wreck to the same hospital yet ended up with “wildly different bills.”
The Volts podcast takes on the challenge of building critical long-distance transmission lines in the United States and how to overcome the various regulatory barriers that stand in the way.
On September 5th at 10p, EST, Frontline will premier a two-part documentary looking at the impact of a “two strikes” law (“Two Strikes”) as well as pregnancy in prison (“Tutwiler”). Produced in collaboration with The Marshall Project and Firelight Media, the documentary will also be streamed online.
We're Seeking Proposals
The National Collaborative on Gun Violence Research will be awarding more than $3 million in funding, provided by AV, to study extreme risk protection orders (ERPOs). Access the RFP here.
The Pretrial Justice team has released a request for proposals that will help inform and advance the field’s collective understanding of the policies and practices related to pretrial release decisions, pretrial release conditions, and pretrial services.
The Higher Education and Evidence-Based Policy teams have created a request for proposals for rigorous impact evaluations of programs and practices (“interventions”) to promote college success in the United States.
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