Category Archives: Schools K-12

Adjusting State Public School Teacher Salaries for Interstate Comparison

Source: Dan S. Rickman, Hongbo Wang, John V. Winters, Public Finance Review, OnlineFirst, Published June 20, 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Using the three-year microdata sample of the American Community Survey for 2009 to 2011, we compute public school teacher salaries for comparison across US states. Teacher salaries are adjusted for state differences in teacher characteristics, cost of living, federal tax rates, household amenity attractiveness, and location within the metropolitan versus nonmetropolitan portions of the states. We find high persistence in the state rankings of nominal public school teacher salaries across time. Yet, we also find that the rankings significantly shift with the adjustments, suggesting they are necessary for meaningful comparisons of public teacher salaries across states. The differences in teacher pay across states also greatly narrow with the adjustments. Finally, this is the first study to show and test that teacher salary comparisons across states should be based on a comparison of public school teacher salaries with nonteacher college graduates in the states, adjusted for differences in personal characteristics and effective federal tax rates.

Public Education Finances: 2015

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Educational Finance Branch, Report Number: G15-ASPEF, June 14, 2017

From the summary:
The U.S. Census Bureau conducts the Census of Governments and the Annual Surveys of State and Local Government Finances as authorized by law under Title 13, U.S. Code, Sections 161 and 182. The Census of Governments has been conducted every 5 years since 1957, while the annual survey has been conducted annually since 1977 in years when the Census of Governments is not conducted. The 2015 Annual Survey of School System Finances, similar to previous annual surveys and censuses of governments, covers the entire range of government finance activities—revenue, expenditure, debt, and assets (cash and security holdings).

This report contains financial statistics relating to public elementary-secondary (prekindergarten through grade 12) education. It includes national and state financial aggregates and displays data for the 100 largest school systems by enrollment in the United States….

The Condition of Education 2017

Source: Joel McFarland, Bill Hussar, Cristobal de Brey, Tom Snyder, Xiaolei Wang, Sidney Wilkinson-Flicker, Semhar Gebrekristos, Jijun Zhang, Amy Rathbun, Amy Barmer, Farrah Bullock Mann, Serena Hinz, Thomas Nachazel, National Center for Education Statistics, NCES 2017144, May 2017

The Condition of Education is a congressionally mandated annual report summarizing important developments and trends in education using the latest available data. The 2017 Condition of Education report presents 50 indicators on topics ranging from prekindergarten through postsecondary education, as well as labor force outcomes and international comparisons. Also included in the report are 4 Spotlight indicators that provide more in-depth analyses on selected topics.
At A Glance

Budgeting for the Future: The Long-Term Impacts of Short-Term Thinking in Alabama K-12 Education Funding

Source: Chris Neher, David Patterson, John W. Duffield, Amy Harvey, Journal of Education Finance, Volume 42, Number 4, Spring 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
A significant body of work on the economics of education establishes links between specific interventions, such as class size reduction or increased teacher pay, and educational attainment (often measured by graduation rates). Many of these interventions rely on increased funding, so the current study builds upon previous work by analyzing the connection between school funding and graduation rates using a case study of Alabama schools from 2011 to 2013. The study places that connection, as well as those established by other authors between educational attainment and future costs and benefits to society, within a framework of public policy decision-making. Beginning with school district-level funding and graduation data, we employ an OLS mixed effects model to estimate the elasticity associated with per-pupil K-12 spending and graduation rates. That estimated elasticity is used to predict changes in the number of high school graduates resulting from hypothetical K-12 funding changes, and further estimate the net present value of state fiscal impacts over the life of the students. For the Alabama finance and graduation data examined, we find that short term investments in increased K-12 funding at the state and local level return roughly twice the original cost to the state in terms of the net present value of increased tax receipts and reduced social service costs over the life of the students.

Examining Inequities in Teacher Pension Benefits

Source: James V. Shuls, Journal of Education Finance, Volume 42, Number 4, Spring 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
From funding to teacher quality, inequities exist between school districts. This paper adds to the literature on inequities by examining the impact of pension plan formulas on pension benefits. Using data from the salary schedules of 464 Missouri school districts, this paper analyzes how various final average salary calculations would impact the benefits of teachers in different districts. All of the schools in this analysis belong to Missouri’s Public Employee Retirement System, which is a defined-benefit pension plan. A teacher’s benefit in this plan is based on her years of experience and her final average salary. The system uses a three-year final average salary calculation. This captures salaries when they are most inequitable, at the end of the schedule. When more years of service are used in the final average salary calculation, inequities in benefits are reduced, but not eliminated.

Evaluating the Role of States in Federal Education Programs

Source: Elizabeth Whitehouse, Leah Byers, Council of State Governments, The Current State, Issue 104, May 15, 2017

K-12 public education in the U.S. is funded primarily by state and local governments. In fact, only about 8 percent of elementary and secondary education spending comes from the federal government. About 47 percent of total K-12 education spending in the U.S. comes from state governments. States vary greatly in their ratio of federal, state and local funding.

How Black Lives Matter Came to Philadelphia’s Schools

Source: Tamara Anderson and Shira Cohen, Labor Notes, May 8, 2017

When teachers in Seattle planned a Black Lives Matter action in response to an incident of violent racism last October, our caucus of teachers in Philadelphia got inspired.

Seattle’s John Muir Elementary had received bomb threats after planning a motivational event where elementary students on their way into school would be greeted by hundreds of African American men. After the threats, the union’s representative assembly voted to support the event, and thousands of educators wore Black Lives Matter T-shirts to support their students of color.

The Caucus of Working Educators (WE) saw our chance to bring that spirit to Philadelphia. But we knew our action would have to go beyond the hashtag, pushing educators, parents, and students into an honest and difficult dialogue.

About 20 percent of Philadelphia teachers are African American. Our city is mired in poverty and income disparity. Union jobs are steadily decreasing, and the district is shuttering public schools in predominantly Black and Latino neighborhoods. So we wanted to do more than a day of solidarity…..

Do state spending differences create an unequal playing field for children?

Source: Julia B. Isaacs, Urban Institute, April 25, 2017

Some states spend less on their children than others, including public education, health, and social services costs. Arizona, for example, spent less than $4,900 per child in 2013, whereas New York spent slightly more than $12,200 per child (after adjusting for cost of living).

These wide disparities in public investment raise concerns about whether children nationwide are on equal footing when pursuing the American Dream. Though children’s outcomes are affected by many factors, health and education outcomes tend to be better in states that spend more on children.

Differences in K–12 education funding cause most of these differences. New York also spends more per capita than Arizona on Medicaid services for children, cash assistance, child welfare services, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, child care assistance, and child support enforcement. In addition, New York has a state earned income tax credit, but Arizona does not…..
Unequal Playing Field? State Differences in Spending on Children in 2013
Source: Julia B. Isaacs, Sara Edelstein, Urban Institute, Research Report, April 25, 2017

From the abstract:
For children to thrive and reach their full potential, they need adequate food and shelter, high-quality health care and education, safe environments, and supportive parents and families. Though families play a key role in meeting children’s needs, society also provides resources and services to support children’s healthy development.

Through their funding of public schools, health systems, and social services, state and local governments provide resources and services to support children’s healthy development. Although not all investments translate directly into better child outcomes, a wide disparity in public investments raises concerns about whether children from low-spending states are on equal footing when pursuing the American Dream….

Kids struggle to safely cross busy streets

Source: Richard Lewis, Futurity, April 24, 2017

Children under a certain age don’t have the perceptual judgment and motor skills to cross a busy road consistently without putting themselves in danger, report researchers.

For the new study, children 6 to 14 years old participated in a realistic simulated environment and had to cross one lane of a busy road multiple times.

Children up to their early teenage years had difficulty consistently crossing the street safely, with accident rates as high as 8 percent with 6-year-olds. Only children who were 14 were able to navigate street crossing without incident. Children who were 12 mostly compensated for inferior road-crossing motor skills by choosing bigger gaps between cars…..
Changes in Perception–Action Tuning Over Long Time Scales: How Children and Adults Perceive and Act on Dynamic Affordances When Crossing Roads
Source: Elizabeth E. O’Neal, Yuanyuan Jiang, Lucas J. Franzen, Pooya Rahimian, Junghum Paul Yon, Joseph K. Kearney, Jodie M. Plumert, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, April 20, 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This investigation examined developmental change in how children perceive and act on dynamic affordances when crossing roads on foot. Six- to 14-year-olds and adults crossed roads with continuous cross-traffic in a large-screen, immersive pedestrian simulator. We observed change both in children’s gap choices and in their ability to precisely synchronize their movement with the opening of a gap. Younger children were less discriminating than older children and adults, choosing fewer large gaps and more small gaps. Interestingly, 12-year-olds’ gap choices were significantly more conservative than those of 6-, 8-, 10-, and 14-year-olds, and adults. Timing of entry behind the lead vehicle in the gap (a key measure of movement coordination) improved steadily with development, reaching adultlike levels by age 14. Coupled with their poorer timing of entry, 6-, 8-, and 10-year-olds’ gap choices resulted in significantly less time to spare and more collisions than 14-year-olds and adults. Time to spare did not differ between 12-year-olds, 14-year-olds, and adults, indicating that 12-year-olds’ more conservative gap choices compensated for their poorer timing of entry. The findings show that children’s ability to perceive and act on dynamic affordances undergoes a prolonged period of development, and that older children appear to compensate for their poorer movement timing skills by adjusting their gap decisions to match their crossing actions. Implications for the development of perception–action tuning and road-crossing skills are discussed.