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Trends in the News

School Money and Performance

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Education Week, 8/9/18

What Is ESSA’s new school-spending transparency requirement, and how will it work?

This school year, an often-overlooked provision in the Every Student Succeeds Act will offer some deeper information when states start reporting to the public school-by-school spending. Actual school spending—rather than average district per-pupil spending—can reveal where the most experienced teachers are working, whether racial minorities and districts’ neediest children are receiving their fair (and necessary) share of tax dollars, and if schools that get the same amount of money are getting the same academic results. ESSA for the first time requires the public reporting of that data, starting in the 2018-19 school year. But how to collect and report this data, a technically challenging and politically thorny process, has roiled the school finance community.

Forbes, 8/7/18

It’s not all about the money: To understand teacher protests, look beyond low pay

Of all K-12 public school teachers who left their jobs during the 2012-13 period, only 6.8% said they did so as a result of their salary, according to the most recent figures from the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. So what else is pushing teachers out of the profession and stopping more qualified people from entering it? An analysis of the Grand Challenges facing the education system found that the most salient issues cover a variety of themes, but the biggest one that jumps out is school culture. Many teachers protested in part as a response to dilapidated classroom conditions. When teachers went on strike in Oklahoma, beyond asking for a pay raise, they also demanded a $200 million increase in public school funding to improve school buildings and services.

SBNation, 7/31/18

How LeBron James’ new public school really is the first of its kind

James’ I Promise School opened Monday to serve low-income and at-risk students in his hometown.  I Promise will feature longer school days, a non-traditional school year, and greater access to the school, its facilities, and its teachers during down time for students. That’s a formula aimed at replicating some of the at-home support children may be missing when it comes to schoolwork. I Promise is a regular public school, not a charter or a voucher-receiving private school.  Per the state of Ohio, Akron’s schools were given just $10,028 in state and local funds per student in 2016 — more than the statewide average, but still a relatively low figure for a city of a little under 200,000.  Ten thousand dollars per student can’t cover those services, but the buy-in from the LeBron James Family Foundation can.

Reuters, 7/11/18

Failure to educate girls could cost world $30 trillion: report

About 132 million girls worldwide aged 6 to 17 do not attend school, while fewer than two-thirds of those in low-income nations finish primary school, and only a third finish lower secondary school, the World Bank said. If every girl in the world finished 12 years of quality education, lifetime earnings for women could increase by $15 trillion to $30 trillion, according to the report. Other positive impacts of completing secondary school education for girls include a reduction in child marriage, lower fertility rates in countries with high population growth, and reduced child mortality and malnutrition, the World Bank said.

Education Week, 4/3/18

Making school spending data transparent and accessible is no easy lift

While most people understand K-12 education spending in terms of average district per-pupil amounts, how districts distribute federal, state and local dollars between schools has long been a mystery even to district superintendents. But many have theorized that seeing distribution levels by school can reveal to the public how (or whether) money boosts academic results and whether money is being spent as intended.

Hechinger Report, 3/26/18

School districts’ uphill battle to get good deals on ed tech

The market research firm IDC estimates that $4.9 billion was spent on devices by K-12 schools in 2015, and the Software and Information Industry Association estimates that nearly $8.4 billion was spent on software. Yet the same device or program can cost more from one state to another and even from district to district. Responsibility to negotiate with vendors falls on school districts that often do not have the time or resources to drive a hard bargain.

The 74, 3/28/18

Congress uses new funding bill to reassert itself in ESSA implementation

Tucked into a report filed with the $1.3 trillion government funding bill passed last week is a reminder to states — through the federal Education Department — that their ESSA accountability plans must include assurances that they’ll require districts to use school improvement dollars for organizations or individuals “that have practical expertise in the development or use of evidence-based strategies and programs to improve teaching, learning, and schools.”

Brookings Institute, 3/20/18

Can money attract more minorities into the teaching profession?

The survey asks districts about whether they offer financial incentives either to help recruit new teachers or to target bonus payment to specific teachers. The survey provides eight different financial incentive options. The first four types of incentives are intended as recruitment tools and are, by nature, short-term rewards. The remaining four incentives are intended to reward specific types of teachers or those filling specific needs the district may have, and the reward is generally more permanent.

Education Week, 3/20/18

Educators, finance officers team up to build a better budget

Beaverton is one of a rapidly expanding network of districts in the Smarter School Spending coalition, which uses so-called “continuous improvement” tools to integrate budget and academic staff and planning in schools. Instead of a small circle of staff poring over spreadsheets in marathon budget meetings once or twice a year, the districts involve everyone from finance officers and principals to teachers and janitors in ongoing conversations about solving instructional problems in sustainable ways.

LA Times, 3/22/18

Op-Ed: Money matters in education, as long as you spend it at the right time and on the right students

In one such study, infusions of dollars to poor school districts, as a result of court-ordered reform, led to a 10% increase in the predicted graduation rate for students from low-income families and a projected 10% rise in their lifetime earnings. Other research found that increasing K-12 spending by 10% added a half-year of schooling and a wage boost of nearly 10%. “A 22 percent increase in per-pupil spending,” the study concluded “is [estimated to be] large enough to eliminate the education gap between children from low-income and nonpoor families.”