Category Archives: Schools K-12

The Effects of Performance Audits on School District Financial Behavior

Source: Paul N. Thompson, Mark St. John, Public Finance Review, Online First, Published September 8, 2019
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From the abstract:
Performance audits are a form of weak financial oversight intended to curb inefficient spending and help alleviate financial problems. This study examines the effect of these performance audits on school district finances in Ohio, where performance audits are used on their own and within the context of the state’s fiscal stress labeling system—a strong financial oversight system. Using a difference-in-differences analysis, we find school districts do reduce expenditures as a result of these performance audits. These changes in financial behavior are found even for performance audits in nonfiscal stress districts, suggesting that weak oversight programs may be an effective means toward changing fiscal behavior. Despite the financial changes in nonfiscal stress districts that receive audits, there appears to be little impact on school district proficiency rates. These results suggest that audits may provide a useful mechanism for changing financial behavior of school districts without much associated efficiency losses.

How Local Economic Conditions Affect School Finances, Teacher Quality, and Student Achievement: Evidence from the Texas Shale Boom

Source: Joseph Marchand, Jeremy G. Weber, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Early View, August 29, 2019
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From the abstract:
Whether improved local economic conditions lead to better student outcomes is theoretically ambiguous and will depend on how schools use additional revenues and how students and teachers respond to rising private sector wages. The Texas boom in shale oil and gas drilling, with its large and localized effects on wages and the tax base, provides a unique opportunity to address this question that spans the areas of education, labor markets, and public finance. An empirical approach using variation in shale geology across school districts shows that the boom reduced test scores and student attendance, despite tripling the local tax base and creating a revenue windfall. Schools spent additional revenue on capital projects and debt service, but not on teachers. As the gap between teacher wages and private sector wages grew, so did teacher turnover and the percentage of inexperienced teachers, which helps explain the decline in student achievement. Changes in student composition did not account for the achievement decline but instead helped to moderate it. The findings illustrate the potential value of using revenue growth to retain teachers in times of rising private sector wages.

Teachers Fighting for Public Schools Were Key to the Uprising in Puerto Rico

Source: Mercedes Martinez and Monique Dols, Labor Notes, August 15, 2019

In the two months leading up to the uprising which ousted Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Roselló, educators celebrated hard-fought victories against the privatization of their education system. Struggles by teachers and families against school closures and charter schools helped pave the way for July’s unprecedented outpouring of protest (see box).

By the end of the school year in June, it became clear that the struggle to stop charterization had largely won. There is only one actively functional charter school on the island.

Then in July, teachers and families who had fought pitched battles against the closing of 442 public schools by ex-Secretary of Education Julia Keleher were vindicated when Keleher was arrested on corruption charges.

As the new school year starts in August, educators are still fighting to fully fund and staff the schools, reopen those shuttered under Keleher, and keep the charters out. In the weeks and months to come, expect educators to keep playing a critical role in the struggle for democracy, against austerity, and for the dignity of the working class in Puerto Rico….

The Changing Pattern of Returns to Education: What Impact Will this Have on Inequality?

Source: Harry A. Patrinos, World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 8866, May 28, 2019

From the abstract:
The pattern of economic rates of return to investments in education can help us to understand the benefits of schooling. It was common knowledge that the returns to education were highest for the primary level of education and lower for subsequent levels. Recent evidence suggests that the pattern has changed. Since the 1980s, the returns to schooling overall have increased. The returns to higher education have increased the most. The fact that the more educated have improved their position, despite an increase in their numbers, must mean that the demand for more educated workers has increased more than supply over time, causing an increase in the overall returns to schooling. Possible reasons include technological change favoring higher-order skills, increased coverage at lower levels of schooling, and the quality of schooling.

State and Local Financing of Public Schools

Source: Rebecca R. Skinner, Congressional Research Service, CRS Report, R45827, July 23, 2019

The funding of public elementary and secondary schools in the United States involves a combination of local, state, and federal government revenues, in proportions that vary substantially both across and within states. According to the most recent data, state governments provide 47.0% of these revenues, local governments provide 44.8%, and the federal government provides 8.3%. Over the last several decades, the share of public elementary and secondary education revenues provided by state governments has increased, the share provided by local governments has decreased, and the federal share has varied within a range of 6.0% to 12.7%. The primary source of local revenues for public elementary and secondary education is the property tax, while state revenues are raised from a variety of sources, primarily personal and corporate income and retail sales taxes, a variety of “excise” taxes such as those on tobacco products and alcoholic beverages, and lotteries in several states.

Political Economy of the Parcel Tax in California School Districts

Source: Soomi Lee, Public Finance Review, OnlineFirst, Published July 16, 2019
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From the abstract:
This article examines the effect of home price distribution on the likelihood of parcel tax adoption in California school districts. A parcel tax is a regressive tax imposed as the same amount per unit of property regardless of property values and requires a two-thirds supermajority vote to be adopted. Despite the growing role that local parcel taxes have in funding public education, it has not been fully understood how their regressive nature influences adoption. I argue that because the regressive tax imposes different marginal property tax rates for voters, the distribution of home prices within a district determines the likelihood of parcel tax adoption. Using the Heckman selection models with California school district–level data, I find that a large gap in home values within a district significantly lowers the likelihood of parcel tax adoption.

See Where Teachers Got Pay Raises This Year – Protests across the country swayed governors to push for salary bumps

Source: Daarel Burnette II & Madeline Will, Education Week, Vol. 38 Issue 36, Published in Print: June 19, 2019

More than a year after teachers across the country began walking out of their classrooms en masse to demand higher salaries, at least 15 states have given their teachers a raise.

And lawmakers in several more states are putting the final touches on plans to raise teacher salaries, according to an Education Week analysis…..

….Here’s what you need to know about each state’s plan (as of June 17) to raise teacher pay. (The average teacher salary for each state reflects the National Education Association’s estimate for the 2018-19 school year, which would not include these raises.)

Click a state in the dropdown to jump to that section: ….

Paid Parental Leave: On The Table

Source: Rob Taylor, Employment Alert, Volume 36 Issue 12, June 13, 2019
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Doubtless, teachers have taken notice. Last year Delaware Gov. Carney approved a new law giving state workers—including educators—12 weeks of paid parental leave. That’s dramatically different from the situation nationwide where just a few states offer that benefit. Also, the United States is widely known to be one of the least responsive of developed nations in this regard, a somewhat surprising occurrence given the push in this country to find creative solutions to the large, ongoing problem of teacher shortage.

In most places in the U.S., according to an EdWeek series, since teachers do not have paid time off related to pregnancy and birthing, they first use accumulated sick days to stay home with their newborn, and then go to unpaid leave, getting back to the classroom and a needed paycheck as rapidly as possible.

Related:
With No Paid Parental Leave, Many Teachers Return to Class Before They’re Ready
Source: Madeline Will, EdWeek, April 1, 2019
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Aggression Detectors: The Unproven, Invasive Surveillance Technology Schools Are Using to Monitor Students

Source: Jack Gillum and Jeff Kao, ProPublica and Wired June 25, 2019

…. The students were helping ProPublica test an aggression detector that’s used in hundreds of schools, health care facilities, banks, stores and prisons worldwide, including more than 100 in the U.S. Sound Intelligence, the Dutch company that makes the software for the device, plans to open an office this year in Chicago, where its chief executive will be based.

California-based Louroe Electronics, which has loaded the software on its microphones since 2015, advertises the devices in school safety magazines and at law enforcement conventions, and it said it has between 100 and 1,000 customers for them. Louroe’s marketing materials say the detection software enables security officers to “engage antagonistic individuals immediately, resolving the conflict before it turns into physical violence.” ….