Category Archives: Education

How to Win a Contract in a Pandemic

Source: Audrey Massmann, Sam Klug, and Dennis M. Hogan, The Forge, October 5, 2020

…This past summer, The Forge’s Lindsay Zafir sat down with Sam Klug, an organizer with the Harvard Graduate Students Union (HGSU), and Dennis Hogan and Audrey Massmann, organizers with the Brown Graduate Labor Organization, to talk about the road to winning a union for graduate workers, how they waged a contract campaign during the pandemic, and their vision for building power across the ranks of the academic labor movement. This interview has been edited and condensed. …

The COVID crisis in community colleges — what does the data say?

Source: Kent Phillippe, Community College Daily, September 7, 2020

The novel coronavirus has affected all aspects of society and the economy. But what do the data say about the impact of the pandemic on community colleges?

Getting timely and reliable data on two-year colleges is challenging. Many of the key metrics are not systematically collected nor reported nationally. This article will look at some of the available data to get a sense of the effects of COVID-19 on this sector of higher education.

Collective Action Is How We Shake Ourselves Free of Pandemic Isolation

Source: Barbara Madeloni, Labor Notes, September 30, 2020

The pandemic has made me see more clearly why it works when workers get together to solve problems collectively.

With no public health system to access and a disorganized, inept, and neglectful response from the government, individuals have been cast out alone to deal with the pandemic. Decisions about working—and risking one’s health and safety—have become individual.

School districts have surveyed parents and educators, asking what individuals wanted for themselves. Unions that simply let members fill out their surveys alone reinforced the message: you are on your own, do what is best for you.

Which is why the contrast when workers come together to talk is so pronounced and powerful right now.

A century of educational inequality in the United States

Source: Michelle Jackson and Brian Holzman, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Vol. 117, no. 32, August 11, 2020

From the abstract:
The “income inequality hypothesis” holds that rising income inequality affects the distribution of a wide range of social and economic outcomes. Although it is often alleged that rising income inequality will increase the advantages of the well-off in the competition for college, some researchers have provided descriptive evidence at odds with the income inequality hypothesis. In this paper, we track long-term trends in family income inequalities in college enrollment and completion (“collegiate inequalities”) using all available nationally representative datasets for cohorts born between 1908 and 1995. We show that the trends in collegiate inequalities moved in lockstep with the trend in income inequality over the past century. There is one exception to this general finding: For cohorts at risk for serving in the Vietnam War, collegiate inequalities were high, while income inequality was low. During this period, inequality in college enrollment and completion was significantly higher for men than for women, suggesting a bona fide “Vietnam War” effect. Aside from this singular confounding event, a century of evidence establishes a strong association between income and collegiate inequality, providing support for the view that rising income inequality is fundamentally changing the distribution of life chances.

“Defund the (School) Police”?: Bringing Data to Key School-to-Prison Pipeline Claims

Source: Michael Heise, Jason P. Nance, Cornell Legal Studies Research Paper 20-23, August 23, 2020

From the abstract:
Calls across the nation to “Defund the Police,” largely attributable to the resurgent Black Lives Matter demonstrations, motivated derivative calls for public school districts to consider “defunding” (or, at the very least, revisit or modify) school resource officer (“SRO/police”) programs. To be sure, a school’s SRO/police presence—and the size of that presence—may influence the school’s student discipline reporting policies and practices. How schools report student discipline and whether it involves referrals to law enforcement agencies matter, particularly as it may fuel a growing “school-to-prison pipeline.” The “school-to-prison pipeline” research literature features two general claims that frame key debates about changes in how public schools approach student discipline and the growing calls to defund school resource officer programs. One is that public schools’ increasingly “legalized” approach toward student discipline increases the probability that students will be thrust into the criminal justice system. A second, distributional claim is that these adverse consequences disproportionately involve students of color, boys, students from low-income households, and other vulnerable student sub-groups. Both claims include important legal and policy dimensions as students’ adverse interactions with law enforcement agencies typically impose negative consequences on students and their futures. We subject both claims to the nation’s leading data set on public school crime and safety, supplemented by data on state-level mandatory reporting requirements and district-level per pupil spending, and explore three distinct analytic approaches in an effort to better isolate the possible independent influence of a school’s SRO/police presence on that school’s student discipline reporting behavior. Results from our analyses, largely robust to various analytical approaches, provide mixed support for the two claims. Specifically, and largely consistent with prior research, we find that a SRO/police presence at a school corresponds with an increased probability that the school will report student incidents to law enforcement agencies. However, we do not find support in the school-level data for the distributional claim.

“They’re Not Alone”: An Oral History of the Pennsylvania Faculty Strike of 2016

Source: Gordon Mantler, Rachel Riedner, Labor: Studies in Working-Class History, Volume 17, Issue 3, September 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
In 2016, more than five thousand faculty members and coaches in the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties successfully struck in the union’s first ever such action in thirty-five years as an official bargaining agent. Two faculty members active in the union reflect on their experience in a wide-ranging interview about how years of careful, often painstaking organizing made such a success possible. The strike was the product of both ten years of increasingly acrimonious negotiations and considerable tactical work by a new generation of union members who learned a number of lessons from the process, including the necessary work of persuading faculty members that they, too, were workers.

COVID-19 and the Higher Education Quandary

Source: Dante DeAntonio, Regional Financial Review, August 2020
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COVID-19 has wreaked havoc across nearly every part of the U.S. and global economy. While higher education has typically been insulated from the business cycle—and sometimes has even been the beneficiary of economic downturns—the current pandemic-induced recession has hit the sector head on.

Education Finance Reform and the Great Recession: Did State Policy and Fiscal Federalism Improve Education Spending, School Resources, and Student Achievement in Pennsylvania?

Source: Matthew P. Steinberg, Rand Quinn, J. Cameron Anglum, Journal of Education Finance, Volume 45, Number 4, Spring 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
We estimate the impact of school finance reform on adequate and equitable district spending, school resources and student achievement in Pennsylvania. From the 2008-09 to the 2010-11 school years, amid the Great Recession, Pennsylvania’s Act 61 increased aid to school districts spending below state-determined adequacy targets (“shortfall districts”). We find that the gap in adequate spending between shortfall and no-shortfall districts narrowed by the final year of Act 61 when increases in education aid were provided through both federal stimulus and state funds. Effects on adequate spending were concentrated among districts with the greatest spending shortfalls and who served more economically disadvantaged communities and academically struggling students. However, few improvements in school resources and no effect on academic achievement were found. Our results suggest that federal aid can support adequate district spending during recessionary periods when state education budgets are constrained. However, if aid is modest, adequacy and equity improvements may not improve resources or achievement.

Gem State Inequalities: Examining the Recent History of Idaho Public School Funding

Source: Ali Carr-Chellman, Taylor Raney, Dan Campbell, Journal of Education Finance, Volume 45, Number 4, Spring 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This article focuses on the application of Savage Inequalities-based analyses of data from the state of Idaho with a focus on equitable rural school funding. While Kozol’s famous 1991 book-length work examining school inequalities was focused on urban centers and completed several decades ago, this article offers an updated examination of imbalances in funding and practice across the primarily rural state of Idaho. By examining state documents through a secondary data analysis, this paper extends an earlier exploration of the intricacies of school funding such as implications for casino income as well as the recent history of state level funding1. Findings from the current examination indicate that while per-pupil funding by school district in the state of Idaho was equalized by state distributions through 2008, impacts of state cuts at that time increased inequities again when comparing school funding across the state. Because of this, rural, remote, and tribal schools are often dramatically underfunded relative to perceived need.

The Effect of Higher Education Performance Funding on Graduation Rates

Source: Roger Larocca, Douglas Carr, Journal of Education Finance, Volume 45, Number 4, Spring 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Since 1979 more than thirty states have adopted “performance funding” for public institutions of higher education. Under performance funding, a portion of the state appropriations for each institution is determined by the institution’s achievement of performance goals on such metrics as retention and graduation. We argue that several characteristics of higher education institutions are likely to weaken the effect of performance incentives on graduation rates. To test these expectations, we develop a comprehensive database that identifies the institutions subject to graduation performance metrics. While most previous researchers have coded each state with a simple binary measure, indicating whether performance funding exists or does not exist in each year, we have determined for which exact institutions and in which years graduation metrics have been used to allocate state appropriations. We combine this detailed performance-funding data with institution-level data on graduation rates and other important factors from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System from 1997-98 through 2015-16. We estimate a difference-in-differences model that reveals no significant impact of performance funding on the graduation rates at 4-year institutions, but we find that performance funding is associated with a significant increase in graduation rates at 2-year institutions under certain conditions.