Thursday, February 8, 2007

Fun With Headlines - CBC Edition

Updated below...

Here be the headline to the CBC.CA's report on a new Statcan analytical paper released today:

University costs not blocking poor youth: StatsCan
Last Updated: Thursday, February 8, 2007 12:18 PM ET

And here be the headline 56 minutes later:

University costs may not be blocking poor youth: StatsCan
Last Updated: Thursday, February 8, 2007 1:14 PM ET

Here be the CBC's report. And here be the actual study, which in fact does not say that university costs may not be blocking poor youth from enrolling. What it does say is that the so-called "income gap" (i.e., high school grads whose parents are poor are less likely to go on to university that those whose parents are rich) is not solely attributable to the financial costs of enrolling in university. Other factors, in addition to one's ability to absorb the financial costs of going to university(such as a student's reading ability, his/her high school grades, the educational background of his/her parents) were also found to influence the likelihood of enrolling in university, and as with ability to pay, these other factors were found to be linked to income.

Specifically, kids coming from poor homes were less likely than kids from richer homes to have:
  • achieved good grades in school;
  • scored well on literacy tests;
  • parents with university or professional degrees;
  • parents who expected them to enroll in university.
All of these factors, in addition to ability to pay, were found to be important contributors to the "income gap." The study found that 12% of the income gap is attributable to ability to pay, versus 12% for parental expectations, 14% for academic achievement, 20% for reading ability, and 30% for parental education.


Update - This is the text of a message I submitted through the CBC website's "feedback" feature today:

"With respect, your coverage of the Statcan study on the impact of tuition cost on access to university, and particularly the headline, is grossly misleading. The study does not, in fact, show that tuition costs do not impact access to university. The study is an analysis ofthe factors that contribute to the well-known "income gap" in terms of university participation. The study shows "financial constraints" to be one of many "observable factors" (among them reading ability, high school academic achievement, parental educational background, and parental expectations) that make up the income gap. Financial constraints made up 12% of the gap, versus (respectively) 20%, 14% 30%and 12% for the other factors.

"I see this morning that the website is now carrying the same misleading headline that you first ran with yesterday and persist in publishing, in modified form, today. The coverage by the media of this very important study is doing a disservice to Canadian youth, who deserve to have the issues they face dealt with in a fair and accurate manner. I urge you to correct the record."

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