Education Issues to Watch
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Updated: February 17, 2015
- N.Y.C. School System Wants More Parents to Run for Education Councils - New York City's Department of Education is looking for a few good parents. Carmen Fariña, the city's schools chancellor, announced an advertising and information campaign Feb. 11 to encourage more parents to run for positions on community and citywide education councils.
- Cuomo Ties Prison Closures To Education Reform - Cuomo tied his ongoing push to reform the state's prison system to a broader effort to overhaul public education in New York. "A school in a poor community has a different set of issues than a school in a richer school districts. Recognize that a school is more than a school, get the mentoring, pay for the tutoring, get the health assistance they need because a school is more than a school."
- National Graduation Rate Hits All-Time High (Again) - The national, four-year graduation rate has ticked up for the second year in a row, growing from 80 percent in the 2011-12 school year, to 81 percent in the 2012-13 school year, according to data released in January by the U.S. Department of Education.
- Cuomo requests analysis of Massachusetts' school takeovers - New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is asking state education officials to do a detailed analysis of Massachusetts' takeover program for failing public schools to determine the specific measures making it successful. The governor's office cites 178 failing schools in New York, including 77 that have been failing for a decade with more than 250,000 students attending over that time.
- Rural Students Lack Access to Advanced Placement Classes - Only about half of the nation's rural school districts have students enrolled in college-level Advanced Placement courses, and those students have lower AP success rates than their non-rural peers, according to a report by researchers at the University of New Hampshire.
- The educational impact of single-parent homes - Documented disadvantages of growing up in single-parent families in the United States include lower educational attainment and greater psychological distress, as well as poor adult outcomes in employment, income, and marital status. Single parenthood is prevalent in virtually all OECD countries, but particularly high in the United States (21 percent in 2012), where the achievement gap between children raised in single-parent and two-parent families is particularly pronounced (27 percentage points, or one grade level).
- Are We Finally Ready to Spend More Money on Public Education? - To provide high quality education to our children, raising the level of financial commitment is essential. If we want to provide good schools for all kids, money matters. As The Washington Post recently reported, "Research has found that when schools have more money, they are able to give their students a better education. A new study on those who went to school during the school-finance cases a few decades ago found that those who attended districts that were affected by the rulings were more likely to stay in school through high school and college and are making more money today."<
- AFL-CIO Backs Teachers Unions Versus Charters - New York State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento backed the state's teachers unions in their ongoing war of words with a charter school organization.
- Survey: Six-figure school pensions almost tripled in number - The number of educators including administrators and teachers eligible for six-figure taxpayer-funded pensions has nearly tripled between 2009 and 2014, according to the Empire Center, which posted the most recent list of NYC and NYS teacher pensions on their website. Most of the jumbo pensions - that is retirements that pay above $200,000 - appear to be on Long Island and in the New York City suburbs although there are some SUNY pensions included. All told, 4,841 educators were eligible for pensions above $100,000 in 2014.
- Albany Debates Education Tax Credit - Under the provisions of the education tax credit proposed by Governor Cuomo, people and businesses can donate up to $1 million dollars to a scholarship fund to send underprivileged children to private schools, or the publicly funded but privately run charter schools. In exchange, they would get a tax credit on their state taxes of 75% of the amount they donate, or up to $750,000.
- Senate Republicans Push Cuomo On GEA - Senate Republicans on Tuesday returned to familiar, and politically fertile ground: The push to end the so-called gap elimination adjustment for education spending in the state.In essence, the Republicans want the final state budget agreement to include $1 billion that would completely eliminate the gap in funding, which was first approved in 2010 during the final year of Gov. David Paterson's administration.
- Black Girls Are Suspended from School Six Times More Often Than White Girls - A new report indicates that young women are being neglected in efforts to eradicate the "school-to-prison pipeline." According to research from the African American Policy Forum and Columbia Law School's Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies, the rates of disciplinary action taken against black female students are significant higher than for white female students, indicating that young women of color face massive challenges in school that their white counterparts do not.
- The Painful Truth About School Segregation - Diversity in schools is verging on the non-existent. That's a problem for our society as a whole. Modern-day segregation has many causes; housing chief among them. If all the children in this country attended their neighborhood public school, many schools would necessarily look as though Brown had never happened. Neighborhood stratification by socioeconomic status leads to de facto racial segregation, since wealth is still strongly correlated with race in the United States.
- School Spending Per Student Drops For the Second Year In a Row - New reports offer some clues as to why education spending is decreasing. The most recent data, from the 2011-12 school year, released by NCES on Jan. 29, 2015, show that average per-pupil spending fell 2.8 percent, to $10,667, from the previous school year. That's the second year in a row that per-student spending fell. In the previous year, 2010-11, per-pupil spending fell 1.6 percent from a year earlier - the first time that spending growth reversed and began declining.
- Teacher union heads meet with Cuomo administration - Shortly after unveiling ads last week attacking Gov. Cuomo's education plans, the heads of the city and state teacher unions met with aides to the governor. Sources say the unions during the meeting may have agreed to temporarily pull their attack ads, leaving some insiders to question whether the sides are trying to hammer out some type of agreement on how to move forward.
- Most municipalities, school districts followed tax cap - New York tax officials say 84 percent of municipal governments and 97 percent of school districts have maintained the 2 percent property tax cap that entitles residents to state tax credits.
- At The Capitol, A Push For The Dream Act And Education Tax Credit - Supporters for both the DREAM Act and the education tax credit made their case at the Capitol on Monday - a push that comes as both measures are intertwined together in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's state budget proposal. The DREAM Act, generally supported by Democratic lawmakers, would provide tuition assistance to undocumented immigrants. The education tax credit, a version of which has already passed the Republican-led state Senate in January, would provide a tax credit for donations to public schools and scholarship organizations that would aid tuition assistance to parochial and tuition-based schools.
- Cuomo's "War" With Teachers Unions Continues - With less than two months before the state budget is due, Governor Cuomo and education groups remain at odds, with the state teacher's union calling the fight a "war", and Cuomo calling the teachers and their allies a bloated bureaucracy.
- Stewart-Cousins Fires Shot Across Cuomo’s Bow On Education - In a rare public break with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Democratic Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins blasted the “demonizing of our teachers” in a statement released on Thursday morning. Stewart-Cousins, a Yonkers Democrat, called for increasing resources — aka more money — in the state budget for school districts and not “scapegoating teachers.”
- States Pass Array of Policies to Advance Career Technical Education - State legislatures and regulatory bodies were very active passing measures to support, expand, and fund career technical education programs last year. A new report released Feb. 5 highlights about 150 new policies recently approved in 46 states and the District of Columbia for programs at both the high school and college level.
- Pregame Analysis: The Coming Federal Education Debate - The main federal education law may finally get its long-overdue makeover in Congress this year, and we're going to be hearing and reading a lot about it. Formally, it's the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or ESEA. The last time it got a major overhaul was in 2001, with President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act. But nothing much has been done with the law since 2007.
- Sen. Ritchie calls for repeal of 2010 budget law she says strains St. Lawrence County schools - Sen. Patty Ritchie has launched a petition calling for repeal of the Gap Elimination Adjustment, which she says has crippled St. Lawrence County Schools in recent years.
- Public-school advocates denounce Cuomo's tax credit plan - Groups representing public schools as well as the NYCLU and League of Women Voters attacked a budget proposal to create a tax credit for donations to support educational scholarships.
- Study: Close Education Gaps and Economy Will Improve - A new study by the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, a research organization that focuses on income inequality, argues that efforts to close education inequality would have a huge impact on the economy. The study runs through a series of scenarios involving moving children from the bottom three-quarters socioeconomically to the levels of education achievement of those in the top quarter. In each scenario, there would be dramatic gains in income, tax payments and other measures of economic well-being.
- U.S. Teaching Time Greatly Exaggerated, Finds New Study - The amount of time that U.S. public school teachers spend teaching has been greatly overstated, according to a new study by Teachers College at Columbia University, and that has led to mistaken comparisons between the U.S. educational system and those of the world's highest-performing countries.
- NY's per pupil spending again leads U.S. - New York's per pupil spending was 82 percent above the national average in 2012, the highest among the 50 states and 82 percent above the national average, a federal report today found. New York spends more than $22 billion on its schools each year, and education advocates are pressing for an increase of $2 billion in the fiscal year that starts April 1.
- School Bullying: Federal Bill Would Set Mandates for Local Policies, Data - A bipartisan pair of senators is renewing efforts to pass a federal law that addresses bullying in schools. U.S. Senators Mark Kirk, R-Ill., and Bob Casey, D-Penn., introduced the Safe Schools Improvement Act. A variety of student and civil rights groups support the bill, which has not made it to the floor in previous sessions of Congress.
- OpEd: Let Educators Do Their Work
- Survey: New York schools among the least 'efficient' - Wallet Hub looks at the most (blue) and least (orange) efficient cities in terms of education spending. New York and California appear to be the least efficient to a great degree.
- Study Suggests Using Poverty as a Factor in Teacher Evaluation - A forthcoming study by University of Missouri researchers finds that accounting for factors like poverty when comparing schools could lead to a more "effective and equitable" teacher-evaluation system.
- What You Absolutely Must Understand About How Poverty Impacts Education - The real educational issue in the United States is not and never has been about poor quality among teachers. Rather, it's about the concentration of poverty. or dental. They live in neighborhoods where violence may make life itself insecure. If you are in a community with high levels of poverty, you are likely in a community that lacks the tax base to provide decent public education, even were the students not already disadvantaged in their basic living situations.
51% of our school children are low income. That means we are not a middle class society any more.
- Cuomo, Regents push district mergers, despite challenge - Governor Andrew Cuomo and state education leaders are planning a more aggressive push for school district mergers next year, arguing that reorganizing the state's 700 districts would cut costs and increase educational opportunities for students. Lawmakers and stakeholder groups have offered policy proposals that aim to encourage mergers, such as using state aid to ease tax increases that result for some districts.
- Cuomo Pledges Education Reform Package In 2015 - Gov. Andrew Cuomo will introduce a package of education reforms in his 2015-16 state budget proposal with an eye toward overhauling the state's teacher evaluation system, boosting student performance and strengthening charter schools, according to a letter.
- Business leaders call for extended school hours - Schools across the nation need to extend their hours to improve student achievement and make time for more classes in the arts, physical education and computer science, according to a report - "Not Getting Our Money's Worth" - from ReadyNation, an organization of business leaders. The report, complains that American students are not gaining proficiency in core subjects or spending enough time developing their physical health or creative skills due to an outdated and inefficient school schedule.
- How Corporations Are Cheating Millions of School Children Out of Billions in Education Funds - It's hard for a nation to build work skills when its corporations, the beneficiaries of a half-century of public support, have largely stopped paying for education. Most of the attention to corporate tax avoidance is directed at the nonpayment of federal taxes. But state taxes, which to a much greater extent fund K-12 education, are avoided at a stunning rate by America's biggest companies. As a result, public school funding continues to be cut, and the worsening performance of neglected schools adds fuel to the reckless demands for privatization. Inner-city schools are being devastated by this insidious process.
- Groups press evidence-based policies in letter to Duncan - A coalition of reform-minded education groups has written to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, urging more investment in building and using a research base in education programs. The letter, sent by the Invest in What Works Coalition, includes policy recommendations for the department and for the president's forthcoming 2016 budget request.
- U.S. Dept of Education to investigate state's funding formula - The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights will investigate complaints by two upstate school districts arguing the state's school funding structure discriminates against districts with predominantly minority student populations. The Schenectady and Middletown school districts filed a complaint against the state; the state Legislature; the comptroller; the Board of Regents; the state Education Department; and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, arguing the structure used to fund public schools negatively effects - disproportionately - school districts with student populations mostly made up of non-white, English language learners and students with disabilities.
- What's in the spending bill? We skim it so you don't have to - RACE TO THE TOP: The bill cuts funding for Obama's signature education initiative -- a big blow to his education legacy, according to The Post's Valerie Strauss. Overall, the Education Department would take a slight hit in funding; at $70.5 billion, down $133 million below the fiscal year 2014, but special education grants to states would get $25 million more than last year, up to $11.5 billion. There is also no funding for the controversial Common Core State Standards in this legislation.
- Cuomo's struggle to extend the school day - Governor Andrew Cuomo's initiative to increase the amount of time students spend in the classroom has arguably been the least successful of his signature competitive education grant programs, with only six of the state's roughly 700 school districts implementing the program.
- Middle-Class Pay Elusive for Teachers, Report Says - The report, by the National Council on Teacher Quality, a nonprofit group that advocates tougher teacher standards, finds that while teachers in places like Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Columbus, Ohio, can reach a high salary benchmark relatively early in their careers, teachers in New York City, San Francisco and Fairfax County, Va., must work more than three decades to hit comparable salary levels, when adjusted for the cost of living in the cities. that teachers can reach middle-class earnings early enough in their careers.
- Ed. Dept. Outlines Ground Rules for Single-Sex Education - Schools that want to offer single-sex classes need to have a good, educational reason for doing so-and they need to give parents a chance to "opt-in" to the single-sex model and offer a similar co-ed option on the same subject, according to guidance released by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights. Schools that want to offer same-sex classes must steer clear of gender stereotypes, and avoid considering sex when selecting faculty members to lead these classes. They also must conduct regular reviews of the classes to make sure that they are complying with Title IX regulations, which seek to prohibit sex discrimination. They also have to make a clear case that offering a single sex class will lead to increases in student achievement. Also, the guidance requires schools to treat transgender students in a manner consistent with their chosen gender identity.
- Pell Grants for Juvenile Offenders - Obama administration clarifies that young people in juvenile detention facilities are eligible for Pell Grants, a move that advocates say will help ease offenders' transition out of the criminal justice system.
- Low-Income High School Students Get Less Time to Learn, Calif. Study Shows - The difference between attending a high-poverty and a low-poverty high school in California is nearly two weeks of instructional time a year, according to a new study on lost learning time from the graduate school of education at the University of California, Los Angeles. In schools where most students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches, teachers said they lost about 30 minutes of class time a day to emergency lockdowns, computer shortages, noisy and dirty classrooms, a lack of qualified substitutes, preparation for standardized tests, and students' dealing with the stresses of living in poverty.
- Study Finds That Financial Education Is Key To Recovery After Leaving Domestic Violence Relationship - The Allstate Foundation and National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) released the results of a study conducted by Rutgers University proving financial education helps survivors improve their financial management skills and their quality of life, while also helping ensure that they have the economic stability needed to live free from violence.
Comprehensive Middle School Sex Education Can Help Delay Sexual Debut, Researchers Find - Sex education in middle school "can play an important protective role, as beginning sex education before teens have sex is critical in effectively reducing risky sexual behavior," according to Jennifer Grossman, a research scientist at Wellesley College, and colleagues.
- How We Can Help Black Female Students? - What happens when an entire population has been largely absent from the discourse around public education? Unfortunately, this has happened to girls of color, and it has fueled assumptions that they are doing just fine and has allowed the significant barriers they face in school and life to go unaddressed. "Unlocking Opportunity for African-American Girls: A Call to Action for Educational Equity," a new report from the National Women's Law Center and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, takes a comprehensive look at the many impediments to African-American girls' educational success and the poor educational and economic outcomes many girls face.
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