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.
At the urging of Gov. Gavin Newsom, a bill that will require charter schools to be more accountable and transparent is making its way swiftly through the legislature and may be the first of several bills seeking to tighten oversight of charter schools. Senate Bill 126 would require that California charter school boards comply with the same open meeting, conflict-of-interest and disclosure laws as district school boards, including holding public board meetings, opening records to the public upon request and ensuring board members don’t have a financial interest in contracts on which they vote.
When the Hawaii Department of Education turned to a new “weighted student formula” to fund schools, a pressing concern was how that model might negatively impact geographically isolated schools with low student enrollment. Hana High and Elementary, a K-12 school on Maui’s east side, has seen its budget reduced by a third from nearly $3 million in the 2008-09 school year to $2 million in the 2016-17 school year… “It works for 98 percent of schools,” Hana’s recently retired principal, Richard Paul, said of the weighted student formula. “But it doesn’t work for us.” In the seven years since the formula took effect in Hawaii in 2006-7 to 2012-13, the total amount of dollars allocated to public schools increased by 11.3 percent, from $655.4 million to $729.7 million, according to a June 2013 assessment of the weighted student formula done by the American Institutes for Research. But some argue the system hammers the smallest schools, which sometimes don’t receive enough money through total pupil head count to afford to have someone teach just one subject or even supply textbooks.
Most states have experienced strong revenue growth in fiscal 2018 and 2019, and with that financial running room, many of those state leaders are signaling that they want to channel a “significant portion” of those resources into education, explains the National Association of State Budget Officers. While it’s not unusual in a good budget year for governors to tout plans for more money for schools, what’s striking is the scope of the proposals this year, said Kathryn Vesey White, the director of budget process studies at NASBO. The flow of new money hasn’t necessarily brought consensus on what to do with it. Governors and lawmakers in some states are deciding whether to pursue new spending on education or bank that money for a rainy day.
States have collectively scaled back their annual higher education funding by $9 billion over the last 10 years, when adjusted for inflation, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports. State appropriations per full-time student have fallen from an inflation-adjusted $8,489 in 2007 to $7,642 in 2017, according to the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association. That has pushed up the portion of university budgets that come from students to $6,572 from $4,817 over the same 10 years. Ten years ago, students and their families paid for about a third of university operating costs…now they pay for nearly half.
America’s $23 billion school funding gap: Despite court rulings on equity, new report finds startling racial imbalance
Despite pivotal finance rulings, school funding in New Jersey, California, and New York remains among the most inequitable in the nation according to the new report by EdBuild, a nonprofit think tank that focuses on education spending. Nationally, EdBuild researchers found that school districts that mostly serve nonwhite students get $23 billion less in state and local spending each year than those with predominantly white student populations — even though they educate roughly the same number of children. Racial disparities in funding persisted even when poverty was considered. Nationally, poor white districts received nearly $1,500 more per student than districts serving poor nonwhite kids. Poor nonwhite districts got less money than low-income white districts in 17 states and they got more in 12 states.
Just hours after West Virginia teachers went on strike for the second time in a year, the state House of Delegates voted, 53-45, to indefinitely table an omnibus education bill the educators saw as retaliation for the job action they took last February. But while Senate Bill 451 — loathed by teachers because it proposed establishing the state’s first charter schools and funds for private school vouchers — appeared dead, the state’s three biggest teachers’ unions continued the strike for a second day on Wednesday to “make sure this is a dead deal.” The vote prompted the teachers’ unions to announce they would return to classes on Thursday.
Union report: Oakland teachers are set to strike. Just like in L.A., a ‘leap of faith’ will be needed to end it
A day after a state fact-finding panel released its report on Friday, the Oakland Education Association announced a strike date of Feb. 21. The union is demanding a cumulative raise of 12 percent over the three years of the contract. The district is offering 5 percent. The two sides still have differences over class sizes, charter schools and a handful of smaller issues. Panel chair Najeeb Khoury appears to have made progress on bridging those gaps. But his proposal for salaries will sound familiar to those who followed the Los Angeles teacher strike or recently negotiated contracts for other school employees across the state. “It is clear that [Oakland Unified School District’s] proposal of a 5 percent raise over three years will not keep pace with inflation,” Khoury wrote. “It is also clear that [the district] will have a very difficult time affording a 12 percent raise over three years, as it is in a structural deficit.” His solution? “I am recommending a 3 percent raise for 17-18, a 3 percent raise for 18-19 and an economic reopener for 19-20,” he wrote. Those numbers are similar to the settlement in L.A. and in other areas of the state.
Chicago’s second charter school strike ended early Monday with the teachers union winning concessions on pay raises for teachers and paraprofessionals that will put their salaries on par with educators at non-charter schools. CICS had warned during the strike that it could face bankruptcy if it implemented all of the union’s demands. In a statement Monday, the network said that “In order to pay for such a significant salary increase, we will be forced to make certain cuts and compromises. For example, we will likely need to limit the number of instructional coaches, assistant principals and other valuable support staff members.”
Amid threatened teacher strikes and budget surpluses, more than 15 governors so far this year have recommended that their state boost teachers’ pay, according to an Education Week analysis of State of the State addresses. In states across the South and West—including in Arizona, Idaho, and West Virginia, where chronically low teacher pay has inflamed teacher shortages and caused political angst—governors are urging legislators in proposed budgets to provide teachers next year with anywhere from a 2 percent raise in North Dakota to a 20 percent raise in Arizona. Other governors, such as in Arkansas and Maine, want to raise their state’s minimum pay for teachers.