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Education Week, 9/10/18

New Preschool Development Grants emphasize support of existing programs

The federal Preschool Development Grants are back, but they offer substantive differences from the legacy program created during the Obama administration. The grant application…allows states the opportunity to apply for a share of $250 million to bolster their preschool programs. But while the original program set aside some funds for states that were basically starting from scratch, this new program wants to see “collaboration and coordination” among existing programs. The administration expects to make around 40 awards of $500,000 to $15 million. Applications are due by November, and awards are expected to be announced by December.

The 74 Million, 9/10/18

Study shows boosting funds to poor school districts lifts student achievement but fails to narrow racial & socioeconomic achievement gaps

An article published earlier this year in the American Economic Journal…finds that districts provided with increased revenues by school finance reforms see improvements in standardized test scores, though the extra money hasn’t helped close persistent gaps between various racial and socioeconomic groups. Not everyone is convinced of the study’s findings, however. Eric Hanushek, an education economist and fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution, said that, “The difficult analytical issue is how you separate out spending from all kinds of other things, like changing the requirements for teacher certification, or changing the accountability rules, or the variety of things that state legislatures do over time.”

Chalkbeat, 9/6/18

Lifting the veil on education’s newest big donor: Inside Chan Zuckerberg’s $300 million push to reshape schools

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative has given away millions to groups working to “personalize” learning, reshape teacher training, and diversify the ranks of education leaders. But the full scope of that giving hasn’t been clear. The organization has given $308 million in education grants since January 2016, when CZI took its current form. As a limited liability company, CZI is not required to list donations on its tax forms, unlike private foundations. Still, the organization says its approach is changing. “We have begun sharing our learnings to date with the education community and news media as part of our commitment to transparency,” spokesperson Dakarai Aarons said in a statement. “As we continue to build our strategy and systems, we plan to share more information about our grants in the future in a way that respects our grantees and community partners.”

Education Week, 9/5/18

Teachers are paid almost 20 percent less than similar professionals, analysis finds

The wage gap between teachers and comparable professionals has grown over time, with teachers now earning 18.7 percent less than other college-educated workers, according to a new analysis. A new paper published by the Economic Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank supported by labor unions, found that the “teacher wage penalty” has increased significantly—teachers earned just 1.8 percent less than comparable workers in 1994. And although teachers do receive better benefits packages than their college-educated peers, those benefits only mitigate part of the gap: Including benefits, teachers face an 11 percent compensation penalty.

The 74 Million, 9/5/18

Walsh: Teacher residencies are fine. But districts already have the power to fix the student teacher pipeline — at far lower cost

With an average sticker price of $65,000 per resident teacher, the residency model is an impractical solution to the many challenges of the labor market. Clearly, residency programs can help some districts avoid staffing shortfalls, but there are problems with casting them as the best opportunity districts have to shape and redirect the talent pipeline. A more readily available, scalable, and affordable option is already available: fixing the pipeline of prospective teachers who enter through student teaching. Ultimately, a strong student teaching program can accomplish many of the same outcomes as a high-quality residency program — but on a much larger scale. Traditional teacher preparation programs graduate more than 150,000 teachers per year, while residencies produce a tiny fraction of this number.

CNBC, 9/2/18

A bipartisan rallying cry: Teachers hit the campaign trail to demand public education reform

As classrooms and textbooks crumble from neglect and resources run thin, teachers from both parties are running for office in unprecedented numbers this year in hopes of gaining a political voice in Washington and in statehouses across the country. More than 300 educators are on ballots, more than double the 2014 and 2016 numbers, in a grassroots movement following strikes that shuttered schools in such states as West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Arizona and Colorado.

Dallas News, 8/29/18

Gov. Abbott: Texas must boost school funding

In its most recent ruling on the Texas school finance system, the Texas Supreme Court wrote that the system needed “transformational, top-to-bottom reforms that amount to more than Band-Aid on top of Band-Aid.” That’s why Governor Abbot urged the Legislature to create the Texas Commission on Public School Finance. It’s clear to the Supreme Court, and to most Texans, that just throwing more money at a flawed system isn’t going to fix anything. Instead, the focus must be on strategies that are most likely to help students achieve academic growth. “We need to pay our best teachers more, reward teachers and districts for student growth, prioritize spending in the classroom and reduce the burden of skyrocketing property taxes. I’ll add up front that I believe the state will have to provide more funding,” said Abbott.

Chalkbeat, 8/29/18

New York spends more per student than any other state. A new study suggests it should spend more.

Education advocates have insisted the state has skimped on funding its schools. But New York State already has the highest per-student funding rate of any in the country — could moving that number up make a difference? The answer is yes, according to a new study of over 600 districts across the state. The researchers found that increased per-student spending led to higher math and reading scores on state tests. “The fact that we find positive effects of increased spending even in New York State, which boasts the highest per-pupil spending in the country, suggests that resources are important even above some adequacy threshold,” wrote co-authors Philip Gigliotti and Lucy Sorensen, both affiliated with the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy at the University at Albany.

Education Dive, 9/5/18

What did a New Mexico district learn after one year operating on a four-day week?

Cobre Consolidated School District Superintendent Robert Mendoza told PBS that a shorter week has lowered absenteeism rates. On top of that, New Mexico — which continues to struggle recruiting and retaining teachers —did not have any trouble hiring teachers for this past school year after the week was shortened, Mendoza said. But officials looked to make the change because of budgets, and the average savings from the switch is miniscule — it ranges from 0.4% to 2.5%, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  It’s also less time for learning. To make up for fewer days in class, students spend more time in school the four days they’re there and have shorter breaks. But in CCSD, that’s still 22 fewer days in the classroom each year.

Time, 9/1/18

Education Secretary DeVos says she has ‘No Intention’ of using federal funds to arm teachers

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos says she has “no intention of taking any action” regarding any possible use of federal funds to arm teachers or provide them with firearms training. DeVos’ comments came Friday after a top official in her department, asked about arming teachers, said states and local jurisdictions always “had the flexibility” to decide how to use federal education funds. DeVos said Friday that “Congress did not authorize me or the Department to make those decisions” about arming teachers or training them on the use of firearms.