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Trends in the News

Alternative Education Models and Funding Mechanisms

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Education Week, 5/1/20

Philanthropy Roundtable K-12 Chief on Funders’ Response to Coronavirus

Donors have responded nimbly and have shown their commitment to meeting the needs of their communities and grantees. As state and local leaders directed schools to close their doors and students began to learn from home, our members have been doing several things: 1. Universally, they checked in with their grantees (e.g., schools and school networks, community-based and advocacy organizations, content providers, etc.) to find out their situations and specific needs. 2. Many donors converted program-specific grants to general operating funds and adjusted outcome metrics. 3. Some provided emergency grants to meet specific school or community needs (e.g., tablets, laptops, Wi-Fi hotspots, and grab-and-go meals). 4. Some donors paid out grant commitments earlier than planned, given long-term concerns about revenue or organizational sustainability. 5. Other donors have gone beyond their typical grantmaking commitments to ensure student learning continues.

Education Dive, 9/11/19

Curricular Counsel: How a rural, low-income district uses partnerships to ‘find a way’

For a rural, low-income district like Greene County, where funding can sometimes be tight, the challenges are amplified by a lack of resources and access to experiences outside of the immediate community for many students. We have a good relationship with a number of employers in our region, within a 25-mile radius, said Greene County Schools Chief Academic Officer Frank Creech. They sit down together on a routine basis and have conversations around what are the skills gaps that we have, what are the opportunities for students to graduate and come back and work in the surrounding area and stay, to increase the economic development that’s going on in the area. Through those conversations, we’ve developed partnerships with some of the individual employers, and also with funders who have stepped in. And through a collaborative effort, we’ve been able to provide kids with more opportunities, more summer learning, more internships, and even some connections directly into the job market for some of our students who would prefer to do that rather than pursue a four-year college degree. Some specific examples would be a computer integrated machining program that was partially funded through the local community college, Lenoir Community College, as well as the Golden LEAF Foundation.

Education Dive, 8/8/19

Federal programs, partnerships can defray CTE costs

High school career and technical education (CTE) courses use computers, simulators and other forms of high-tech equipment and digital learning that can be overwhelmingly expensive for districts. To help offset the cost of these programs, the U.S. Department of Education provides about $1.3 billion per year for CTE courses at the elementary, secondary and adult levels. Recently, the Pathways to STEM Apprenticeship program provided $3 million to six states to help CTE students acquire post-secondary education and link them to careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Other models for states short on labor include New Jersey’s efforts to use county-run, work-based programs to train high school students to enter the workforce. School leaders are developing relationships with businesses, industries and community colleges to better understand employers’ needs.

Hechinger Report, 8/7/19

Anatomy of a failure: How an XQ Super School flopped

Alec Resnick and Shaunalynn Duffy won the $10 million grant in September 2016 as an “XQ Super School,”…The two had spent nearly seven years designing a new kind of high school, Powderhouse Studios. Finances became an insurmountable sticking point for Superintendent Mary Skipper and school committee members, even with $10 million pledged from XQ. State law mandates that Innovation Schools must receive the same amount per pupil as the district’s average, which in Somerville was roughly $17,000 per student. It didn’t seem like Somerville’s comprehensive high school, which enrolls about 1,250 students, could afford to lose 160 students to the new school. Costs for building maintenance, teachers and counselors would change very little, but the school would have millions less to cover them. Justifying the financial toll of a new school is a universal challenge for school designers.

The 74 Million, 8/5/19

Report: As tuition rises, how private schools and microschools are working to increase access for low- and middle-income families

A new report from Bellwether Education Partners…seeks to offer a fresh look at how private K-12 schools are keeping their costs down, even as the share of students from middle-income families attending private schools has dropped by nearly 50 percent since the 1960s. “There are a number of private schools that are out there that are trying to serve middle- and low-income students,” said Juliet Squire, a partner at Bellwether and co-author of the report. “That’s not an easy proposition to do without” public funding, she said. About 500,000 private-school students in 29 states receive public dollars through some combination of vouchers, education savings accounts and tax-credit scholarships. But the public support that students do receive for their private educations isn’t enough to cover full tuition costs except in a few states. Some private schools that enroll a large number of low-income students rely on a mix of philanthropy, public funds and novel approaches to work-study or cost savings to reduce the tuition burden parents face.

PBS, 5/27/19

How Wyoming manages to keep its rural schools open

The one-room schoolhouse may seem like a distant memory from U.S. history, but about 200 of them still exist today, including Wyoming’s tiny Valley Elementary School. It has only six students, but in Wyoming, education funding is redistributed so that students can have access to similar resources, no matter how small or remote their location. Many small schools across the country have closed in recent years due to state funding issues and population shifts. But in rural Wyoming, one school with just six students has so far survived. Wyoming spends between $15,000 to $18,000 per student per year in K-12 education. Among the top in the nation and maybe unique to Wyoming is the funding model that recaptures money from wealthy districts and redistributes those to school districts that are called entitlement districts.

Institute of Education Sciences, 5/9/19

Weighted student funding is on the rise. Here’s what we are learning.

Weighted student funding (WSF) is a funding method that aims to allocate funding based on individual student needs. While large districts are increasingly using WSF systems, little research exists to assess their effectiveness. In this guest blog, Dr. Marguerite Roza, Georgetown University, discusses her team’s ongoing…research study that seeks to document and understand WSF designs and features as implemented in the field, and to gauge the extent to which WSF designs are associated with reducing achievement gaps.

Chalkbeat, 4/1/19

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative has made over $100 million in education grants since 2018, new disclosure shows

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative has issued $110 million in grants to education causes since January 2018, according to new details posted to the organization’s website. The list of grants represents CZI’s first thorough accounting of its own education giving, and the total indicates that the organization remains one of the largest players in education philanthropy. The information, which also includes a list of investments in for-profit companies, sheds new light on the strategy of CZI. CZI says it donated to more than 80 organizations over the last 15 months, but other gifts were dwarfed by grants to the Summit charter network and New Schools Venture Fund, which together took in more than $40 million.

Education Week, 3/4/19

Ex-Microsoft CEO (no, not that one) giving big to K-12

The Ballmer Group, created by former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and his wife Connie, has quietly committed more than a quarter-billion dollars to K-12-related organizations and projects over the last two years. The flow of money includes more than $100 million granted to organizations working to improve opportunities for children and families in poverty, as well as a $59 million investment in a for-profit software company seeking to ease the flow of student data between K-12 school districts and nonprofits. The Ballmer Group’s known activity to date primarily reflects a “wraparound approach” to education, said Sarah Reckhow, an assistant professor of political science at Michigan State University. It emphasizes the community context in which children grow up, and it relies heavily on people with extensive experience in the social-services field and deep roots in the communities where grants are being awarded.

New York Times, 2/28/19

Betsy DeVos backs $5 billion in tax credits for school choice

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Thursday pitched a $5 billion federal tax credit that would fund scholarships to private schools and other educational programs, throwing her weight behind what will be a difficult legislative undertaking to fund the Trump administration’s signature education initiative. Ms. DeVos will join Republican lawmakers in championing legislation that would allow states to opt into a program that provides individual and corporate donors dollar-for-dollar tax credits for contributing to scholarship programs that help families pay private-school tuition and other educational expenses. The program would also allow states the flexibility to fund other programs, like apprenticeship, dual enrollment, after-school and remedial programs.