9.20.15: Student Debt, Mindfulness in Schools, & the Song of the Fall

Sep 18, 2015

Harvard, like other prestigious Ivy League schools, is a non-profit. Still, its 36-billion dollar endowment is bigger than the GDP of Jamaica. So why does it remain tax free? Then - meditation, sitting, mindfulness: whatever you call it, it’s springing up everywhere, from Google’s corporate offices to high school classrooms in the Bronx. But can techniques developed to help hospital patients really improve the lives of low-income students? We find out why mindfulness has a place in the classroom. Plus, music industry insiders clamor to predict and announce the summer’s most popular hit – but what about the song of the fall?  We’ll discuss the qualities that make up a classic autumnal anthem. 

Listen to the full show. 

Should We Tax Private Schools' Endowments?

Harvard and other generously-endowed private schools are non-profits, which means their endowments—in Harvard’s case $36 billion dollars—don’t get taxed. Now a former Department of Education official is arguing it’s time to tax Harvard’s stockpile and distribute those dollars to smaller, needier schools.  Jordan Weissmann is senior business and economics correspondent at Slate, where he covered the issue: Is It Time to Tax Harvard’s Endowment?

Small Debt, Big Problems

Susan Dynarski is a professor of education, public policy and economics at the University of Michigan. She’s also a frequent contributor to the New York Times blog, The Upshot where she recently wrote Why Students with the Smallest Debts Have the Largest Problem.

Related: We’re Frighteningly in the Dark About Student Debt

The Brookings Institute: 

Mindfulness in the Classroom

Argos Gonzalez is a Mindful Schools Certified Instructor and English teacher at the Arturo A. Schomburg Satellite Academy in the Bronx. He is also adjunct instructor at Hunter College where he teaches literacy instruction. We read about him and the benefits of mindfulness in the classroom in the Atlantic

Icon for Access

So far today, we’ve covered whether or not the government should be able to tax Harvard’s enormous endowment, and how some types of student debt are worse than others. Creating a fair and equitable system of higher education is largely about access – but not everybody agrees on what that means, or how to grant it. There’s another form of access – access for the disabled – and not everybody agrees on what that requires either. Or even how to symbolize it.

Roman Mars from the podcast 99% Invisible brings us the story.

Listen to Icon for Access again at PRX.org

The Song of the Fall

After the annual fervor to find out what the big summer jam is going to be, and discovering the hit holiday song, autumn seems positively forgotten – so, we wanted to figure out what a fall anthem might sound like, and discuss seasonal trends in the music industry. We assembled a panel to talk it over and give us their picks for a “Song of the Fall”: Carl Wilson, music critic for SlateMaura Johnston, music critic and editor of Maura Magazine; and Alex Gale, senior editor at Billboard. You can find more, including links to their song picks, here. 

And to get you into an autumnal groove, here's one of our own picks for a "Song of the Fall":