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The Inquirer, 1/22/18

As budget season nears, school districts face formidable foe: Fixed costs

After fixed costs such as already-negotiated increases in benefits, state-required pension payments, and special-education placements, Pennsylvania school officials say there’s little wiggle room. An Inquirer and Daily News analysis based on data from the state and the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials found that on average, about 85 percent of all costs for the state’s 500 school districts are set before budget hearings even begin.

Education Week, 1/17/18

Five hurdles that keep school systems from improving

Among states that received the lowest grades in the latest Quality Counts report, the Education Week Research Center identified several common challenges. These include relatively high rates of children and parents living in poverty, limited opportunities for early learning, and struggles with producing strong academic outcomes. These states also have (and provide) limited resources and funding to their K-12 systems.

Chalkbeat, 1/10/18

New research estimates the cost of charter growth for districts

“For evaluating the social value of charter schools, a more complete analysis of benefits and costs would be required,” Ladd and Singleton write. “That analysis would have to include any benefits from charter school expansion through greater choice for parents and children, as well as any additional costs in the form of, for example, greater racial or economic isolation.”

In our recent blog post, “How Districts Can Afford Quality Schools Despite Enrollment Decline,” Afton recognized the financial challenges of school districts facing enrollment decline with or without charter school growth, and provided actionable recommendations to balance finances effectively and align it with academic outcomes.

NPR, 1/11/18

America’s schools are ‘profoundly unequal,’ says U.S. Civil Rights Commission

“The federal government must take bold action to address inequitable funding in our nation’s public schools.” So begins a list of recommendations released Thursday by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, an independent, bipartisan agency created by Congress in 1957 to investigate civil rights complaints. Thursday’s report comes after a lengthy investigation into how America’s schools are funded and why so many that serve poor and minority students aren’t getting the resources they say they need.

The Hechinger Report, 1/15/18

Three quarters of U.S. public school spending cuts restored

The 2008 recession may seem like a long time ago, hitting before Barack Obama began his presidency, but public elementary, middle and high schools around the country are still feeling the pinch from it. The good news is that the most recent federal data showed a significant upsurge in state and local education spending in the 2014-15 school year — one that, if it persists, could eventually restore four earlier years of deep budget cuts.

The 74, 1/9/18

The states that spend the most (and least) on education

The link between per-pupil spending and educational quality is much debated in research. Skeptics of greater spending have pointed to lackluster results from the U.S.’s titanic annual expenditures on education, but a series of recent research studies have documented learning gains and increased college attendance for students in school districts where spending had surged.

The 74, 1/2/18

12 important education storylines we’ll all be reading about in 2018

This is a quick primer of 12 groundbreaking education storylines we’ll be following in the new year, including: teachers unions, high school graduation rates, higher education debates, personalized learning, New Orlean’s next chapter, NYC’s turnaround plans, Illinois’ pension crisis and more.