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News Press, 2/4/17

Florida education funding high; schools still recovering from recession cuts

The state would have to spend an additional $1.86 billion over the next three years to offset inflation and cuts that have ravaged education funding since the Great Recession, according to the Florida School Finance Council, which advises the state commissioner of education. “School revenue is back to where it was in 2007, (but) does anybody believe costs are the same?” asked Malcolm Thomas, superintendent of the Escambia County SchoolDistrict. “I think where we’re feeling the pinch now is just the operational costs to really support and educate your kids.”

The Tennessean, 2/6/17

Tennessee charter school bill sets funds aside for facilities

The proposed legislation would require districts across the state adhere to national best practices in authorizing charter schools, said Elizabeth Fiveash, assistant commissioner of policy and legislative affairs. The bill would also allow districts to require a fee from charters based on how many charter schools operate within a district. School boards can levy a 1-3 percent fee of the annual per student state and local allocations depending on how many schools are within the district.

Washington Post, 1/26/17

New bill offers glimpse of how Washington could use federal funding to expand school vouchers

Scott’s bill — the Creating Hope and Opportunity for Individuals and Communities through Education Act, or CHOICE Act — is a three-pronged approach to devoting more federal funding to voucher programs for children to attend the private schools and, in some cases, the public schools of their choice.

Center for Reinventing Public Education, 1/31/17

Bridging the district-charter divide to help more students succeed

In at least 35 urban school districts with significant numbers of charter schools, efforts are under way to jointly improve instruction, align policies, address inequities, or garner efficiencies. About a dozen of these districts are using cooperation, also commonly referred to as districtcharter collaboration, to drive decisions and address systemic challenges, including tracking school performance, student enrollment, and school closure. The report includes recommendations for district and charter leaders, State Education Agencies, and funders to better support the often difficult, politically divisive work of cooperation.

Arizona Central , 1/31/17

Arizona school-voucher expansion afoot

Empowerment Scholarship Accounts allow parents to take money that would otherwise go directly to their local public school, and put it toward private-school tuition, homeschooling, tutoring, therapy, and other education-related expenses. Critics of the program say it siphons money away from public district schools, and over time, could substantially erode school funding.

NPR Education, 1/19/17

Education department drops fight over school money

The U.S. Department of Education has withdrawn a proposal that could have fundamentally changed the flow of federal dollars to schools that serve low-income students…Everyone agrees that Title I dollars are not supposed to gap-fill. They’re meant to be extra — the technical term is “supplemental” — for low-income kids who need them most. What the sides don’t agree on is how districts prove they’re not just filling gaps and that state and local resources are being spread fairly.

Time Magazine, 1/6/17

Opinion: Education is not a marketplace you can game with vouchers

School vouchers are dollar-based credits that parents can use to pay for schools beyond their neighborhood. Those options may include public schools in nearby districts, private schools and, occasionally, parochial schools. Unfortunately, the education “marketplace” is not ready to handle this game-changer. That’s because what makes a real marketplace work—good information, pricing flexibility and low friction—just doesn’t exist.

Washington Post, 1/19/17

Obama administration spent billions to fix failing schools, and it didn’t work

The money went to states to distribute to their poorest-performing schools — those with exceedingly low graduation rates, or poor math and reading test scores, or both. Individual schools could receive up to $2 million per year for three years, on the condition that they adopt one of the Obama administration’s four preferred measures. Peter Cunningham writes in Education Next on SIG: “The fact that the study did not even look at the program’s effects on D- or F schools is also important because these schools had nowhere to go but up. As it turns out, that’s exactly what happened in some of them. When the 2015 analysis was released, Edweek reported that, “SIG schools were more likely to see double-digit gains in reading and math than other schools.”