Category Archives: Schools K-12

Trends in Pre-K Education Funding in 2017-18

Source: Bruce Atchison, Emily Parker, Jill Mullen, Tom Keily, Education Commission of the States, Policy Report, February 6, 2019

From the abstract:
This Policy Brief begins by reviewing the educational and societal impacts of quality pre-K programs before revealing legislative changes to state pre-K funding in 2017-18. The brief highlights four states and breaks down total pre-K funding for all states, including year-over-year changes.

Red State Strikes and the Roots of Teacher Militancy

Source: Jon Shelton, LAWCHA: The Labor and Working-Class History Association Newsletter, 2018

…. These strikes were among the most important victories in the US in recent history, a clear victory for communities decimated by years of Republican-led austerity. Further, the cross-district teacher strikes this past spring seemed especially shocking because of the right’s decades-long characterization of teacher unions as inimical to the interests of the nation’s children, there has actually been labor peace among teachers and school districts going back 30 years now. The strike wave surprised many observers, particularly since they took place in conservative, “right-to-work” states where public employee strikes are illegal. Yet this new era of teacher unionism builds on a long history of teacher militancy. ….

As Albany Debates a Permanent Property Tax Cap, How Is the Cap Affecting School Budgets?

Source: Jim Malatras, Nicholas Simons, Michelle Cummings, Rockefeller Institute of Government, January 23, 2019

This is the first in a series on property taxes in New York State by the Rockefeller Institute of Government. Collaborating with other organizations, the Rockefeller Institute will take an in-depth look into various issues surrounding property taxes including their impact on local governments, case studies of how the tax cap is working in school districts, the future of education financing and its reliance on local property taxes, and property tax assessments.

To Cap or Not to Cap, That Is the Question
As Albany Debates a Permanent Property Tax Cap, How Is the Cap Affecting School Budgets?

Newly minted Democratic Majority Leader and Temporary President of the State Senate, Andrea Stewart Cousins, said the Senate would take up a bill to make the local property tax cap permanent this week. New York State has some of the nation’s highest property taxes, be it in total dollars paid (in the downstate suburbs, like Nassau and Westchester Counties) or by home value (in many upstate counties, like Orleans and Wayne). In response, the state enacted in 2011 a local property tax cap law that restricted annual property tax increases to 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less. While the tax cap has limited local property taxes, it also has an effect on the distribution of school revenue (with more money coming from progressive state income taxes) and higher passage rates for school budgets.

The property tax cap was not made permanent. It was part of a larger horse-trading deal that included strengthening and extending rent regulations on housing, primarily in New York City. As part of the original deal, the local property tax cap was scheduled to sunset after four years unless reauthorized by the state legislature and signed by the governor. The tax cap was extended once in 2015 and is once again up for renewal in 2020…..

America’s Teachers Are Furious

Source: Alia Wong, The Atlantic, January 22, 2019

From West Virginia to Los Angeles, educators are ushering in a new era of labor activism.

Related:
Political payback for the statewide teacher walkout?
Source: Andrea Eger, Tulsa World, January 22, 2019

Slew of newly filed bills aim to punish, limit future protests.

After LA’s Strike, “Nothing Will Be the Same”
AN INTERVIEW WITH ARLENE INOUYE
Source: Eric Blanc, Jacobin, January 23, 2019

The Los Angeles teachers’ strike was big, it was united, and now it’s victorious. We interview UTLA chief negotiator Arlene Inouye about how the strike turned the tables on the billionaire privatizers.

Los Angeles Teachers Strike for Higher Wages and Smaller Classes
Source: Christopher Palmeri, Bloomberg Businessweek, January 18, 2019

The district has lost enrollment to declining birthrates, rising housing costs, and charter schools.

What Are Governors Saying About Education in Their State of the State Addresses in 2019?

Source: Julie Rowland Woods, Education Commission of the States, EdNote blog, January 17, 2019

The elections resulted in big changes in state leadership, including a sizable cohort of 20 new governors. Because many governors appoint top education policy leaders in their states, they play a key role in setting their state’s education policy agenda. So, what are they planning for education in 2019 and beyond?

To figure that out, we track governors’ State of the State addresses. These speeches sketch out governors’ policy priorities, highlight past accomplishments and reflect on the condition of their state and our country. Each year, we summarize and identify trends in education policy proposals featured in these addresses. And we add these summaries to our interactive map within 48 hours of the address — click on a state to see a summary of the education policy issues highlighted by that state’s governor every year since 2005! (You can also view governors’ education proposals by year and issue — an easy way to spot trends across states.) …

Teacher Pensions vs. 401(k)s in Six States: Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri and Texas

Source: Leon (Rocky) Joyner, Nari Rhee, UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education (Labor Center) and the National Institute on Retirement Security, January 2019

From the abstract:
A new report finds that teacher pension plans play a critical role in retaining educators while also providing greater retirement security than 401(k)-style retirement accounts. Eight out of ten educators serving in the six states studied can expect to collect pension benefits that are greater in value than what they could receive under an idealized 401(k)-type plan. The study also finds that the typical teacher in these states that offer pensions will serve 25 years in the same state, while two out of three educators will teach for at least 20 years.

These findings are featured in new research, Teacher Pensions vs. 401(k)s in Six States: Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri and Texas, from the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education (Labor Center) and the National Institute on Retirement Security. The report is author by Dr. Nari Rhee, director of the Retirement Security Program at the UC Berkeley Labor Center, and Leon (Rocky) Joyner, vice president and actuary with Segal Consulting.

Thanks To A Strong Economy, California’s School Districts Can Face Continued Pension Increases–Though Will This Last?

Source: S&P Global Ratings, November 8, 2018
(subscription required)

Key Takeaways

– School revenue increases, driven by a strong state economy, have far outpaced nominal growth in required pension contributions.
– Although the share of district expenditures for pension contributions has increased, and will likely continue to grow, increases to median carrying charges have been sustainable.
– Most districts are more than two-thirds through the scheduled rise in pension contributions, and we expect growth in contribution rates will slow and stabilize over the next several years.
– Districts have not made significant pension-driven cuts to their operations to date, but may reduce salary increases and headcount through attrition moving forward.
– If the state experiences a recession, volatility in state funding could be a more likely source of adverse credit pressure for some districts.

Lessons from Teachers on How to Strike and Win

Source: John McGough, Labor Notes, October 15, 2018

Teachers across the country this year are breathing new life into the strike—galvanizing members and winning gains.

These strikes are fueled by rank-and-file anger. Many were coordinated not from above by the official union leadership but by networks of activists. The size of the mobilizations and level of organization have caught many by surprise.

The teachers have put the strike—labor’s most powerful weapon—back in our playbook. They’re showing what can be done when workers unite, organize creatively, and take to the streets.

Teachers have wiped away some of the stigma attached to strikes and shown how a strike can be built by rank-and-file members. Here are a few lessons: …..

Related:
Teacher Strike Wave: By the Numbers
Source: Jasmine Kerrissey, Labor Notes, October 4, 2018

In the Pacific Northwest, the First Paraeducator-Led Strike of the Teacher Uprising

Source: Dan DiMaggio, Labor Notes, November 16, 2018

Paraeducators in Port Angeles, Washington, are on strike. In this year’s wave of teacher strikes, it’s the first one led by paraeducators.

Teachers have refused to cross their picket lines, shutting down the district’s schools Thursday and Friday.

The 115 paradeucators in this small coastal city, just across the water from Canada, assist with everything from reading lessons to recess. Paraeducators play an essential role in today’s schools, offering extra attention and care to students who need it—especially those with disabilities…..

Trusting states to do right by special education students is a mistake

Source: Matthew Brock, The Conversation, September 28, 2018

On Sept. 20, the U.S. Department of Education released a new framework to “rethink” how the department oversees special education services for students with disabilities.

As part of this framework, the department plans to provide states with “flexibility” and to “acknowledge” that states are “in the best position to determine implementation of their programs.”

This flexibility relates to how states satisfy the provisions in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act – a federal civil rights law known as IDEA meant to ensure all students with disabilities receive a free and appropriate education.

In my opinion, the assumption that states are in the best position to determine implementation of their programs related to the IDEA law is a faulty one. So is the notion that relaxing enforcement of these provisions would have a positive impact on students.