Category Archives: Education

2009 Education Appropriations Guide

Source: Jason Delisle, New America Foundation, Issue Brief, March 12, 2009

Congress completed the fiscal year 2009 appropriations process on March 10th, 2009, finalizing annual funding for nearly all federal education programs through September 2009 at $62.6 billion, up $3.4 billion from the prior year. Making sense of the federal education budget and the appropriations process can be a frustrating task for education advocates, state and local policymakers, the media, and the public. The now concluded fiscal year 2009 appropriations process is no exception due to numerous stopgap funding measures and emergency economic stimulus legislation.

This issue brief is intended to be a helpful guide to the appropriations process and recently enacted fiscal year 2009 education funding, including economic stimulus funding signed into law earlier this year through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The State of Preschool 2008

Source: W. Steven Barnett, Dale J. Epstein, Allison H. Friedman, Judi Stevenson Boyd, Jason T. Hustedt, National Institute for Early Education Research, 2008

The 2007-2008 year was one of impressive progress for state-funded preschool education. Overall, state programs made major progress in expanding enrollment and continued to raise quality standards. For the second year running per-child funding increased, reversing the prior downward trend in expenditures. However, despite the modest upward trend in spending overall, fewer states were confirmed as providing sufficient funding per child to meet our benchmarks for quality standards. In current economic circumstances, this shortfall is especially worrisome.

In the United States today, more than 80 percent of all 4-year-olds attend some kind of preschool program. About half of those (39 percent of all 4-year-olds) are enrolled in some kind of public program (state pre-K, Head Start or special education), with the other half enrolled in a private program. Most of the 4-year-olds in public programs attend state pre-K, which enrolls almost a quarter of the population at age 4. Unfortunately, these numbers vary tremendously by state. In Oklahoma nearly 90 percent of the 4-year-olds receive a free public education. At the
other extreme, as few as 10 percent are enrolled in public programs in some states. Private enrollment does not make up the differences in enrollment between these extremes.

Pre-K enrollment at age 3 is much more limited, primarily because public provision is so much lower. Enrollment in private programs is very similar at ages 3 and 4. Only 14 percent of 3-year-olds attend some type of public program, with barely 4 percent of 3-year-olds attending a state-funded pre-K program. Enrollment also varies dramatically by state, but most states serve less than 1 or 2 percent of their 3-year-olds outside of special education and Head Start.

Weak Community College Budgets

Source: Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, April 8, 2009

Community college budgets were in a weakened state even before the full impact of the economic downturn hit. That’s the conclusion of the 2008 survey of the National Council of State Directors of Community Colleges.

The survey documents an increasing trend of midyear budget cuts — even before the recession neared its current magnitude — and notes past state patterns of responding to economic downturns in ways that do not bode well for community colleges or their students.

Unions, Education, and Low-Wage Workers

Source: Michael Selmi, University of Chicago Legal Forum Symposium Issue, 2009

The abstract:
Low-wage workers have never had privileged access to desirable labor market opportunities but their position has significantly deteriorated over the last two decades, as union representation has decreased and the demand for higher skilled labor increased. This essay explores the future for low-wage workers and begins by defining what we mean by low-wage work, and also who low-wage workers are. I next explore the two most common advocated paths for improving the lives of low-wage workers: reviving unions and a human capital focus. I suggest that reviving unions, even in the context of the Employee Free Choice Act, offers at best a limited hope for improving the labor market opportunities for most low-wage workers. For a variety of complicated reasons, there is no basis for expecting a substantial resurgence of union representation, even if the law is changed to make union organizing more effective. Instead, I emphasize a human capital path, noting in particular, that far too many young individuals attend college without attaining any degree, and I discuss the important role community colleges can play in enhancing the human capital of low-wage workers. In the final part of the paper, I discuss educational reforms at the high school level that target at-risk populations, including a return to vocational education and the rise in charter schools, both of which might offer important opportunities for students to excel in school.

WebQuests: A Viable Solution to Meeting the Continuing Professional Education Needs of Home Health Care Nurses

Source: S. M. Maxwell, Home Health Care Management & Practice, Vol. 21, No. 3, 2009
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The nursing shortage, coupled with growing case loads, limits the available time for nurses in home care to attend continuing professional education programs necessary to keep abreast of the changes in nursing practice and enhance their clinical competency. The purpose of this case study was to evaluate the effectiveness of the WebQuest, a Web-based inquiry-oriented model congruent with the pedagogical approaches and cognitive activities commonly used with nursing education, in providing continuing education content to nurses in a mid-sized home health care agency. A convenience sample of registered nurse case managers completed a researcher-designed WebQuest, modified for independent learning, on diabetes education utilizing their personal computers from home. WebQuests proved to be an innovative and creative approach to provide new information, promote higher level thinking skills, and develop nurses’ confidence with computer technology.

Nurse Home Visits: A Boost for Low-Income Parents

Source: Maia Szalavitz, Time, Monday, March 02, 2009

There’s no doubt that low-income parents — indeed, most new parents — could use a little guidance. In some countries, like France, that guidance is institutionalized. Nurse home visits for all pregnant and new mothers are routine and free of charge, sponsored by the government. In the U.S. the national Nurse-Family Partnership program (NFP) covers about 16,300 families living in poverty in 25 states, but President Obama has said he plans to expand the benefit, extending it to every first-time poor mother in the country — about 570,000 women each year. The President’s stimulus plan includes more than $3 billion in funding for early-childhood-intervention programs such as Head Start and Early Head Start.

Incidence and Characteristics of School Bus Crashes and Injuries

Source: Jingzhen Yanga, Corinne Peek-Asab, Gang Chengc,Erin Heidena, Scott Falbe and Marizen Ramirezb, Accident Analysis & Prevention, Volume 41, Issue 2, March 2009
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Crashes in the state of Iowa were examined from January 2002 through December 2005. School bus crashes were identified through the Iowa Crash Data, a comprehensive database of all reported crashes in the State of Iowa. School bus mileage data were provided by the Iowa Department of Education. School bus crash, fatality, and injury rates were calculated and differences in crash and injury characteristics between school buses and other vehicles were examined.

School buses experience low crash rates, and the majority of crashes do not lead to injury. Buses are among the safest forms of road transportation, and efforts to educate drivers of other vehicles may help reduce crashes with buses.

Quick & Easy Guide to Green Cleaning in Schools

Source: Stephen P. Ashkin and Rochelle Davis, Healthy Schools Campaign, 2008
(free registration required)

From the press release:
Healthy Schools Campaign (HSC) is pleased to announce the release of the improved and expanded second edition of the Quick & Easy Guide to Green Cleaning in Schools. The second edition includes new sections on sustainability, green cleaning for food service, integrated pest management, new technologies and more. It was developed with the support of 16 national education stakeholder organizations and 39 cleaning industry corporate leaders following the distribution of more than 70,000 copies of the popular and highly-regarded first edition.

The guide includes a handbook outlining five simple steps for setting up a green cleaning program, such as switching to green cleaning products and equipment, adopting new cleaning procedures, introducing green paper and plastic products and involving all school stakeholders in the process. An accompanying CD contains comprehensive information, practical advice, tools and resources to help schools learn more and institutionalize their efforts. The new guide includes an enhanced purchasing directory with more than 500 products that meet HSC’s environmental standards for schools.

Reach Higher, America: Overcoming Crisis in the U.S. Workforce

Source: National Commission on Adult Literacy, June 2008

From the executive summary:
Education drives the economy. Almost a decade into the 21st Century, America faces a choice: We can invest in the basic education and skills of our workforce and remain competitive in today’s global economy, or we can continue to overlook glaring evidence of a national crisis and move further down the path to decline. In Reach Higher, America, the National Commission on Adult Literacy presents powerful evidence that our failure to address America’s adult education and workforce skills needs is putting our country in great jeopardy and threatening our nation’s standard of living and economic viability. The Commission recommends immediate action to reverse the course we are on. It calls for strong, bold leadership from federal and state government, and it challenges business leaders, philanthropy, and the nonprofit sector to become part of the solution.

Minnesota 2020

Source: Minnesota 2020, 2009

Minnesota 2020 is a progressive, non-partisan think tank, focused on what really matters. We focus public policy debate on the issues that matter for Minnesota’s future success.

We are tired of a state that focuses on divisive side issues while our schools, health care, transportation, and economic development suffer. Minnesota is great when we have good transportation, strong job creation, universal health care and quality schools.

Minnesota 2020 delivers accurate policy research with a focus on smart, effective progressive messaging through a multi-media platform. We are framing Minnesota’s public policy debate. Through our communications strategy, we’ve compelled legislative and executive branch policy change. We link academic and traditional foundation research to achieve tangible, demonstrable solutions.

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