Category Archives: Schools K-12

“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.

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.

Collective Bargaining Organizations and the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown Decision

Source: Ed Dandalt and Marybeth Gasman, Labor Law Journal, Vol. 71, Issue No. 2, Summer 2020
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From the abstract:
In a scholarly context where most legal research on the implementation of the United States Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown decision has evolved around the militancy of civil rights organizations for school desegregation, this article examines the leadership undertaken by federal teacher associations (American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association) at the national level to support the implementation of this hallmark decision during the modern civil rights movement. The analysis of this article is limited to the national desegregation services provided by these collective bargaining organizations to their locals. Findings from the primary materials that were reviewed suggest that the leadership provided by these organizations contributed to the desegregation of locals and was a catalyst for union mergers in public education.

States will cut K-12 education funding, pushing budget pain to school districts with varying ability to cope

Source: Moody’s, June 23, 2020
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Many states suffering revenue declines because of the coronavirus outbreak will cut K-12 funding, leaving school districts having to raise revenue, reduce expenses or draw down reserves. Raising revenue or reducing expenses generally lowers credit risk the most, while spending reserves, particularly large single-year drawdowns, tends to carry the greatest risk. ​

Antipolitics and the Hindrance of Performance Management in Education

Source: Jeffrey W Snyder, Andrew Saultz, Rebecca Jacobsen, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Volume 29, Issue 4, October 2019
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From the abstract:
Performance management reforms are a popular way to try to create responsive and improving government. These types of reforms have become commonplace in education policy and the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory (JPART) has been one of the leading venues for research on these topics. However, under-analyzed are the ways in which performance management policies represent antipolitical bent to education reform. We outline an argument that avoiding political decisionmaking in favor of reforms that create authoritative or purportedly neutral data risks undertaking policy change are not as meaningful as hoped. We select eight articles that represent research on performance management broadly and are thought provoking for a broader consideration of performance management in education policy.

Thriving cities, challenged schools: teacher strikes highlight districts’ credit issues

Source: Helen Cregger, Denise Rappmund, Naomi Richman, Leonard Jones, Alexandra S. Parker, Moody’s, Sector In-Depth, September 17, 2019
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Given enrollment declines, high housing prices, tighter labor markets and a growing proportion of legacy fixed costs, meeting teacher pay and staffing demands will continue to challenge districts, especially those with more constrained finances.

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….