Category Archives: Education

Soaring Food Prices Are Making it Harder for Schools and Child Nutrition Programs to Provide Healthy Meals to Children, Witnesses Tell House Education Committee

Source: U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Education and Labor, Press release, July 9, 2008

With Americans already feeling the strain of higher grocery costs, soaring food prices are making it more difficult for schools, child care programs, and summer food service programs to provide healthy, low-cost meals for children, witnesses told the House Education and Labor Committee today. Today’s hearing was the first held by Congress to examine how rising food costs are affecting U.S. child nutrition programs and the millions of families who rely on them.

According to preliminary results of a new survey unveiled by the School Nutrition Association at the hearing, to help cope with higher food costs in the coming year, 75 percent of school nutrition directors plan to increase school meal prices for students, and 62 percent plan to reduce staff. In addition, 69 percent of the survey’s respondents reported they will have to dip into their “rainy day funds” intended for capital improvement projects.
See also:
Testimonies (PDFs) and archived webcast

The Grapevine Project

Source: Illinois State University, 2008

The Grapevine project entails an annual compilation of data on state tax support for higher education, including general fund appropriations for universities, colleges, community colleges, and state higher education agencies. Each year we ask states for tax appropriations data for the new fiscal year, and we also ask for revisions (if any) to data reported one year ago, two years ago, five years ago, and ten years ago. Updated state reports are entered on the Grapevine web site as they are received from May through December of the calendar year. After entering all 50 state reports on our web site, we construct the following tables:

• state rankings on one, two, five and ten-year percentage changes;
• annual average five-year percent changes in state tax appropriations;
• one- and two-year percent changes in state tax appropriations by region;
• state tax appropriations per capita and per $1,000 of personal income;
• state tax appropriations for community colleges; and
• state and local (aggregated) tax appropriations per capita and per $1,000 in personal income.

Facility Planning: School Renewals

Source: James E. Rydeen, American School and University, June 1, 2008

1950s-’60s schools: Obsolescence or longevity?

Forty-three percent of existing public schools were built in the 1950s-’60s era. This era seems to have gained the reputation of cheap, energy-inefficient buildings that were not intended to last more than 30 years.

A study at one school district estimated it would cost $2.1 billion to fix its aging buildings. Many buildings were well-kept and clean, but their mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems were old and inefficient; the food-service equipment needed replacing; and the facilities did not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Most of the buildings are only 30 to 50 years old and are showing signs of water damage, and wear and tear.

Experience has proven that public schools must be designed for long-term use — much longer than 30 years.

Many institutions keep up with most of their annual facility maintenance, but not with replacing major systems and equipment because annual budgets cannot cover the costs. Avoiding such dilemmas requires planning, scheduling and budgeting for the eventual upgrades.

Characteristics of the 100 Largest Public Elementary and Secondary School Districts in the United States: 2005-06

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, Statistical Analysis Report, NCES 2008-339, June 2008

From the summary:
This annual report provides basic information from the Common Core of Data about the nation’s largest public school districts in the 2005-06 school year. The data include such characteristics as the numbers of students and teachers, number of high school completers and the averaged freshman graduation rate, and revenues and expenditures. Findings include: In 2005-06, these 100 largest districts enrolled 23 percent of all public school students, and employed 22 percent of all public school teachers. The districts produced 20 percent of all high school completers (both diploma and other completion credential recipients) in 2004-05. Across the districts, the averaged freshman graduation rate was 69.5 percent. Three states — California, Florida, and Texas — accounted for almost half of the 100 largest public school districts. Current per-pupil expenditures in fiscal year 2003 ranged from a low of $5,104 in the Puerto Rico School District to a high of $18,878 in the District of Columbia Public School District.

Job-Worker Mismatch and Cognitive Decline

Source: Andries De Grip, Hans Bosma, Dick Willems, Martin Van Boxtel, IZA Discussion Paper No. 2956, July 2007

We have used longitudinal test data on various aspects of people’s cognitive abilities to analyze whether overeducated workers are more vulnerable to a decline in their cognitive abilities, and undereducated workers are less vulnerable. We found that a job-worker mismatch induces a cognitive decline with respect to immediate and delayed recall abilities, cognitive flexibility and verbal fluency. Our findings indicate that, to some extent, it is the adjustment of the ability level of the overeducated and undereducated workers that adjusts initial job-worker mismatch. This adds to the relevance of preventing overeducation, and shows that being employed in a challenging job contributes to workers’ cognitive resilience.

Academic Libraries: 2006

Source: Barbara Holton, Laura Hardesty, Patricia O’Shea, National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education, NCES 2008-337, July 2008

From a summary:
During a typical week in the fall of 2006, academic libraries processed approximately 1.1 million reference transactions, including computer searches, and for the year there were over 144 million “circulation transactions.”

Among the survey’s other findings:
• The nation’s 3600 academic libraries held 1.0 billion books, serial backfiles, and other paper materials, including government documents.
• Academic libraries support 93,600 full-time equivalent (FTE) staff, including 26,500 FTE librarians, about 28 percent of the total number of FTE staff.
• Academic libraries spent $94 million for electronic books, serials backfiles, and other materials in FY 2006.
• Some 72 percent of academic libraries provided library reference service by e-mail or the Web (table 12).
• Some 34 percent of academic libraries reported their institution had incorporated information literacy into its mission (table 13).

Preschoolers Enrolled and Mothers at Work? The Effects of Universal Pre-Kindergarten

Source: Maria Fitzpatrick, US Census Bureau Center for Economic Studies, Paper no. CES-WP-08-04, March 01, 2008

Three states (Georgia, Oklahoma and Florida) recently introduced Universal Pre- Kindergarten (Universal Pre-K) programs offering free preschool to all age-eligible children, and policy makers in many other states are promoting similar policies. How do such policies affect the participation of children in preschool programs (or do they merely substitute for preschool offered by the market)? Does the implicit child care subsidy afforded by Universal Pre-K change maternal labor supply? I present a model that includes preferences for child quality and shows the directions of change in preschool enrollment and maternal labor supply in response to Universal Pre-K programs are theoretically ambiguous. Using restricted-access data from the Census, together with year and birthday based eligibility cutoffs, I employ a regression discontinuity framework to estimate the effects of Universal Pre-K availability. Universal Pre-K availability increases preschool enrollment by 12 to 15 percent, with the largest effect on children of women with less than a Bachelor’s Degree. Universal Pre-K availability has little effect on the labor supply of most women. However, women residing in rural areas in Georgia increase their children’s preschool enrollment and their own employment by 22 and 20 percent, respectively, when Universal Pre-K is available.

Governors and Public Education: A Trend Analysis Of Gubernatorial Messages 2004-2008

Source: Communities for Quality Education, 2008

From the press release:
A new report from Communities for Quality Education (CQE) analyzes State of the State gubernatorial addresses between 2004-2008 and highlights specific education policy trends. The report shows that between 2004 and 2007, every governor who delivered a State of the State address stressed the importance of education to economic growth. In fact, no issue surrounding education has been focused on as much by governors in their State of the State addresses as the link between education and economic prosperity.
See also:
Governors’ Statements