Only three states — Florida, Georgia and Oklahoma — have what could be called truly universal programs in that they’re available to all 4-year-olds, regardless of parental income. The three states offer examples of the different ways in which the program’s funding source can affect its future.
When Congress passed ESSA in 2015, it created a requirement that states report per-pupil spending levels at both the district and individual school levels, disaggregating federal, state, and local funds, as well as personnel and non-personnel expenditures. In the coming months of 2017, states have an opportunity to demonstrate leadership and a commitment to equity and excellence by not just complying with the requirement, but by designing and implementing a methodology that will allow districts to use data to make strategic and smart decisions for the equitable distribution of resources.
Rural schools have trouble recruiting and retaining good teachers and principals because housing is so limited, pay is so low and working conditions so difficult, education advocates say. Trump has decried failing public schools that are “flush with cash,” but many rural schools — hobbled by a poor local tax base and weak state support — struggle with tight and often shrinking budgets.
Although warnings about the changing demographics of college-age students were first issued earlier this decade by the commission, many small colleges ignored the predictions. And now their lack of a strategy to diversify the enrollment pipeline is putting financial strain on the bottom line, especially in a student market where tuition prices continue to increase year after year as family incomes lag.
Because education funding takes up so much of states’ budgets, the debate over how much schools get tends to dominate legislative sessions. But there are some states this year that are in deep debates on how to reform their education formulas, which could dictate how millions of dollars are distributed to school districts for years to come. Here’s a rundown of a few states he and other school finance hawks are watching closely.
Alaska and New York pay teachers nearly double the salaries of those working in Mississippi and Oklahoma, says a new study by GoBankingRates. According to the finance website, teachers in Alaska and New York are paid each year on average $77,843 and $76,953, respectively. By contrast, the averages in Mississippi and Oklahoma are $42,043 and $42,647, respectively. To be fair, many of the states with higher teacher pay also have higher costs of living.
“Perhaps the most striking result in the paper is that, for the average church running a voucher-accepting school in the data, vouchers provide more revenue than any other source.”
The district’s school population will continue to grow as new apartment units come on line and other projects are built, charter school officials say. “Given the impact of the significant influx of new students into local schools, this expansion request is ideally timed to assist the district in addressing these new needs at a lower cost. Even if one were to accept the district’s claims to the contrary, it cannot be credibly concluded that this phenomenon will cause devastating financial harm to the PPS district,” reads the letter.
The tax-credit structure is especially significant when considering what could happen under DeVos in the Trump administration, because it could be a way to promote school choice on a federal level without writing big checks. “There isn’t that much money that is fungible from the federal education budget,” points out Samuel Abrams, an expert in education policy at Teachers College, Columbia University.
Connecticut is one of seven states where high-poverty districts have fewer teachers per student than better-off districts, and the state is in 44th place for how competitive the salary of a 25-year-old teacher is in an impoverished district, the Rutgers Graduate School of Education reported last week. Research prepared for the school funding trial showed mixed results on whether more money helps lead to better student outcomes, and Connecticut has had a long line of task forces study and recommend changes for state education aid.