Early Childhood Educational Opportunities for Dependents of Emory Graduate Students

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1 Strategy for Graduate Student Recruitment and Retention Early Childhood Educational Opportunities for Dependents of Emory Graduate Students Presented by Rob Rankin, Graduate Student Council President Natalie Delia Deckard, Graduate Student, Sociology The Problem Laney Graduate School, like all other highly- ranked institutions of higher learning, values diversity among students, faculty, and staff. The school actively seeks to recruit and retain talented graduate students, and is invested in their success. Because quality applicants, especially in the STEM fields, are actively recruited by the most competitive schools, Laney has sought ways to distinguish itself as a school of choice for this prospective applicant pool. As the Center of Work- Life Balance asserted, We want to be the place that people say If I could be anywhere, I want to be at Emory (Office of the Provost, 2008). Despite these intentions, Laney continues to struggle with distinguishing itself as a school of choice for a diverse population. At least one external review of an Emory Department notes the lack of a culture that values diversity and the need to substantially address this lacking (McLeod, et al., 2012). A recent article in the New York Times (DeParle, 2012) makes Emory s on- going challenge with accessibility to students of limited means. The recently implemented Parental Leave Policy for Graduate Students is certainly a step in the right direction, and is sure to make Emory s programs more attractive to parents who are committed to doing graduate work at an institution that is committed to them. The back- up care program is also innovative and sure to be helpful to many graduate student parents balancing work and family commitments. But Laney does not have a subsidy program for the early childhood education of graduate students dependents when the students have low household incomes a basic benefit offered to graduate students at virtually all of Emory s benchmark institutions. Emory s unique failure to assure that NO graduate student has to make a trade- off between their education and that of their children is particularly striking because there are comparatively few graduate students with dependents that have low household incomes making these programs relatively inexpensive and easy to implement. While the vast majority of graduate institutions ensure their graduate students that their children will receive quality early childhood education irrespective of the financial position that their graduate study puts them in, Emory alone says that parents should choose Emory at the expense of their children. 1

2 Existing Research Emory has long acknowledged the importance of work- life balance, broadly, in supporting its students and faculty and ensuring institutional success. A 2003 report of Emory s Commission on Research stated the University must ensure adequate time for scholarly reflection and maintain a quality of life sufficient to attract top scholars in the face of rising expectations for academic excellence and service (Office of the Provost, 2003). The Work- Life Balance Taskforce, in its Fall 2007 report, noted that, in order to fulfill these challenges, Emory would need to enhance work- life policies for Emory Graduate Students, specifically addressing issues of childcare and preschool availability (Work- Life Balance Taskforce, 2007). This resolution is especially important given the historically high numbers of female graduate students with young children, their comparatively high drop- out rates, and the contrasting success of these women in achieving tenure if they successfully complete their PhDs (Kuperberg, 2009). As the result of intensive research by the Computing Research Association, Cuny and Aspray (2000) found that fostering a departmental and University culture that was supportive of community, family and personal lives generated a culture that was more supportive of women graduate students and one in which they were more successful. Among other recommendations, the authors found that making on- campus early educational centers available to graduate students was helpful to the ultimate goal of recruiting and retaining female graduate students (Cuny & Aspray, 2000). Mason and Goulden (2004) concur citing the availability and accessibility of on- campus childcare as integral to career success in academia for women. The literature suggests that there is an association between graduate school success and implementation of supportive policies and programs (Springer, et al., 2009). Springer, et al. write that: Quality childcare is expensive and graduate students almost never earn large salaries. However, it is next to impossible to make any progress on degree completion without child- free time to work. There are many institutional supports to help provide quality childcare for graduate student parents (2009, p. 448). Anaya (2011) points out that women of color, who are more likely to have dependents upon entering graduate programs, are disproportionately affected by a school s lack of available and affordable childcare programs. Thus, the leaky pipeline that deprives doctoral programs of promising women as they attempt to negotiate the multiple roles and responsibilities without institutional support deprives them especially of promising women of color. Solution Many schools have confronted the same problem, but most have already moved towards solving it. Table 1 lists 42 of the top 50 graduate programs in Sociology, per the most commonly used ranking system (US News and World Report, 2009), and their childcare subsidization programs. Although I use Sociology rankings, these schools compete with Emory across disciplines. I was unable to easily 2

3 How Sliding 40% $180/month How access information for 8 of the 50 programs, causing me to report on 42. The table shows school name, location, the extent of the subsidy and whether that subsidy is portable (can be used at any licensed facility) or applicable only at a select on- campus facility. Table 1: Childcare Subsidies in Top Graduate Schools School name Univ of CA- - Berkeley up Berkeley, CA Univ of Wisc- - Madison Madison, WI Princeton University $5,000 Princeton, NJ Univ of Mich- - Ann Arbor 50% Ann Arbor, MI Harvard University Cambridge, MA Stanford University Sliding Stanford, CA University of Chicago Sliding Chicago, IL Univ of NC- - Chapel Hill Sliding Chapel Hill, NC Northwestern University $5,000 Evanston, IL Univ of CA- - Los Angeles Sliding Los Angeles, CA Columbia University $1,000 Indiana Univ- - Bloomington Bloomington, IN University of Pennsylvania Sliding Philadelphia, PA Duke University Sliding Durham, NC New York University $200/semester University of Texas- - Austin $290/month Austin, TX Cornell University $1,893 Ithaca, NY Ohio State University 39% Columbus, OH University of Washington 80% Seattle, WA Penn State- - Univ Park 75% University Park, PA University of Arizona $1000/semester Tucson, AZ Much Where School name Much Where to 100% Campus Univ of Maryland- - College Park N/A College Park, MD Portable Yale University Sliding Campus New Haven, CT Portable Brown University N/A Providence, RI Portable Johns Hopkins University Sliding Campus Baltimore, MD Portable University of California- - Irvine Up to 50% Campus Irvine, CA Portable CUNY Graduate School Fee $2/hour Campus Portable Univ of California- - Santa Barbara $900/sem Portable Santa Barbara, CA Portable Rutgers- - New Brunswick Waiver Portable Piscataway, NJ Campus Univ of California- - Davis Sliding Campus Davis, CA Campus Univ of California- - San Diego up to 100% Portable La Jolla, CA Portable University of Mass- - Amherst up to 100% Portable Amherst, MA Portable Vanderbilt University N/A Nashville, TN Portable Emory University N/A Atlanta, GA Portable University of Iowa $240/month Portable Iowa City, IA Portable Florida State University 45% Campus Tallahassee, FL Campus University of Southern California $4,000 Campus Los Angeles, CA Portable Stony Brook University- - SUNY 50% Campus Stony Brook, NY Campus Texas A&M Univ- - College Station 15% Campus College Station, TX Portable University of California- - Riverside 25% Campus Riverside, CA Portable University of Florida 30% Campus Gainesville, FL Portable University of Notre Dame 50% Campus South Bend, IN Of the 42 schools, fewer than 10% have no provision for the childcare of graduate students in low- income households. Emory is one of these four schools. Approximately 55% of schools that offer this benefit have portable subsidies, while 45% subsidize tuition at on- campus pre- schools. Portable subsidies appear to be slightly larger than on- campus subsidies. Virtually all programs are based on household incomes ensuring that graduate students that have the means to pay for their children s childcare do so on their own, while those graduate students who would have to trade their children s educations for their own do not have to make this choice. The few schools on the list that do not offer 3

4 subsidies are at a disadvantage when competing with other schools for top- quality graduate students especially women and, even more notably, women of color. Implementation Strategy We propose that Emory join the majority of other top Graduate School by implementing a portable childcare subsidy. With a maximum benefit of $1000 a semester, this subsidy will prove both helpful to those graduate students living in low- income households while not presenting an overly onerous burden on the Laney budget. Recommended award amounts appear below: Childcare Subsidy Scale Household Income Subsidy Rate Total Semester Award <$34,500 50% $1,000 $34,500 - $40,000 40% $800 $40,000 - $48,000 30% $600 $48,000 - $58,000 15% $300 >$58,000 0% $0 We propose that these benefits be extended to Graduate Students with young children, allowing them to access the high- quality early childhood education program that they feel will best fit their child or children s needs. Students would qualify by presenting their annual Federal Tax Returns, as well as the Tax ID and License Number of their chosen child- care facility, to the chosen Emory work- life office on an annual basis. Awards would be processed as additional stipends and included in payroll deposits. The advantages of this program would be tremendous and it s implementation would allow Laney to extend a full package of Work- Life programs to prospective and current PhD students. With subsidized early childhood education, back- up dependent care, and parental leave, Emory will be at the forefront of universities in supporting graduate students with children. This will go a long way towards sealing the leaky pipeline. Works Cited Anaya, R., Graduate Student Mothers of Color: The Intersectionality between Graduate Student, Motherhood and Women of Color in Higher Education. Intersections: Gender and Social Justice, Issue 9, pp

5 Cuny, J. & Aspray, W., Recruitment and Retention of Women Graduate Students in Computer Science and Engineering: Results of a Workshop Organized by the Computing Research Association, Washington, DC: Computing Research Association's Committee on the Status of Women in Computing Research. DeParle, J., The New York Times. [Online] Available at: students- struggle- as- class- plays- a- greater- role- in- success.html?hp&pagewanted=all [Accessed 9 January 2013]. Kuperberg, A., Motherhood and Graduate Education: Sociology and Democracy, Volume 28, pp Mason, M. & Goulden, M., Do Babies Matter (Part II)? Closing the Baby Gap. Academe, Volume Nov- Dec. McLeod, J., Zubrinsky Charles, C. & Roy, W., External Review Report for the Emory University Department of Sociology, Atlanta, GA: unpublished - prepared for Robin Forman and Lisa Tedesco. Office of the Provost, Challenges Facing Emory and Other Research Universities, Atlanta, GA: Emory University. Office of the Provost, An Exploration of Equity among the Emory Faculty: Sex and Race/Ethnicity, Atlanta, GA: Emory University. Springer, K., Parker, B. & Leviten- Reid, C., Making Space for Graduate Student Parents: Practice and Politics. Journal of Family Issues, 30(4), pp US News and World Report, Sociology Rankings. [Online] Available at: schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best- graduate- schools/top- humanities- schools/sociology- rankings [Accessed 21 November 2012]. Work- Life Balance Taskforce, Report of the Work- Life Initiative Task Force, Atlanta, GA: Emory University. 5

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