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Education Week, 4/3/18

Making school spending data transparent and accessible is no easy lift

While most people understand K-12 education spending in terms of average district per-pupil amounts, how districts distribute federal, state and local dollars between schools has long been a mystery even to district superintendents. But many have theorized that seeing distribution levels by school can reveal to the public how (or whether) money boosts academic results and whether money is being spent as intended.

Washington Post, 4/8/18

Opinion: The deeper cause behind the school strikes

To those paying attention, the recent strikes for higher teachers’ pay in West Virginia and Oklahoma are a harbinger of things to come. Youcan attribute the strikes to the stinginess of the states’ political leaders. After all, average annual teachers’ salaries in these states ranked, respectively, 49th-lowest (Oklahoma at $45,276) and 48th-lowest (West Virginia, $45,622) in 2016, reports the National Education Association. But that’s the superficial explanation. The deeper cause is that teachers — and schools — are competing with the elderly for scarce funds.

Gainsville Times, 4/18/18

Georgia: Bus funding remains a challenge for schools even with more state money

A recent report from the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute outlined safety concerns related to aging school bus fleets. “Shrinking state funding for student transportation and rising costs are making it more difficult for school districts across Georgia to get children to and from school safely,” the report states. “The worsening financial pinch leaves districts with aging bus fleets on the road past their intended life, concerns about student safety and far fewer dollars to invest in the classroom.”

The Daily Iowan, 4/4/18

Will higher education remain accessible as funding becomes less public?

While funding sources have shifted over the years, the actual dollar amount of state appropriations has essentially remained flat with fiscal 1998 funding levels nearly equal to the amount appropriated to the universities in fiscal 2018. In that same time period, enrollment has spiked, meaning on a per-student basis, financial support for higher education has not kept pace with growth; the amount of available monetary resources hasn’t changed much, but that dollar amount has to be spread among more students. In the fall of 2000, the regents reported an enrollment of 68,930, and in fall 2017, that number rose to 80,066.

Longview News Journal, 4/1/18

Texas schools scramble after state’s $118M pre-K funding cut

Texas pre-K programs are just scraping by after losing millions of dollars last year — and without sustainable funding, they could see greater problems down the line, school officials say…The money had gone to 573 districts and charter schools that pledged to meet measures such as setting a lower student-teacher ratio, avoiding Common Core curricula and reporting student progress to the state.

Education Week, 3/30/18

Teacher Pay: How salaries, pensions, and benefits work in schools

Teachers are paid less than comparable workers with similar education levels, an Economic Policy Institute analysis of federal data shows. Since 1996, teachers’ weekly wages have decreased $30 per week to $1,092 in 2015, while all college graduates’ average weekly wages have increased $124 to reach $1,416. Those numbers are adjusted for inflation. However, non-wage benefits as a share of total compensation are more important for teachers than for other professionals. Non-wage benefits can include prepaid insurance premiums and pensions.

Education Week, 4/2/18

Digging deeper into that $300 million increase in Federal Aid for poor students

“The $300 million increase … is split evenly between two of those four formulas, with targeted and finance incentive grants each getting $150 million more in fiscal 2018 than fiscal 2017…Targeted grants provide more money per child as a district’s poverty rate increases, while finance incentive grants are designed to address funding environments in “good finance”—those that spend relatively large amounts on schools and do so equitably—and “bad finance” states.”

Hechinger Report, 3/26/18

School districts’ uphill battle to get good deals on ed tech

The market research firm IDC estimates that $4.9 billion was spent on devices by K-12 schools in 2015, and the Software and Information Industry Association estimates that nearly $8.4 billion was spent on software. Yet the same device or program can cost more from one state to another and even from district to district. Responsibility to negotiate with vendors falls on school districts that often do not have the time or resources to drive a hard bargain.