Category Archives: Schools K-12

Federal Education Budget Project

Source: New America Foundation, 2011

From about:
The Federal Education Budget Project produces a continuous stream of rigorous, independent research on and analysis of all facets of federal education finance. Our expert staff analyzes the financing, quality, and cost-effectiveness of various federal initiatives-including each year’s federal education budget, appropriations legislation, education-related tax policy changes, and mandatory spending on student loans. Such analyses are intended to serve as an important check in the education debate, exposing the real world impact of proposed policies and budgets.

ALEC: American Legislative Exchange Council – The Voice of Corporate Special Interests in State Legislatures

Source: People For the American Way Foundation, 2011

When state legislators across the nation introduce similar or identical bills designed to boost corporate power and profits, reduce workers rights, limit corporate accountability for pollution, or restrict voting by minorities, odds are good that the legislation was not written by a state lawmaker but by corporate lobbyists working through the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC is a one-stop shop for corporations looking to identify friendly state legislators and work with them to get special-interest legislation introduced. It’s win-win for corporations, their lobbyists, and right-wing legislators. But the big losers are citizens whose rights and interests are sold off to the highest bidder….

… ALEC’s major funders include Exxon Mobil, the Scaife family (Allegheny Foundation and the Scaife Family Foundation), the Coors family (Castle Rock Foundation), Charles Koch (Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation and the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation), the Bradley family (The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation) and the Olin family (John M. Olin Foundation). These organizations consistently finance right-wing think tanks and political groups.

Members of ALEC’s board represent major corporations such as Altria, AT&T, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Koch Industries, Kraft, PhRMA, Wal-Mart, Peabody Energy, and State Farm. Such corporations represent just a fraction of ALEC’s approximately three hundred corporate partners. According to the American Association for Justice, over eighty percent of ALEC’s finances come from corporate contributions….

…The Issues ALEC Lobbies For:
– Undercutting Health Care Reform: Pulling out all the stops to weaken the health care reform law.

– Corporate Power and Workers’ Rights: Curbing protections for workers while eliminating checks and regulations on corporations.

– Voter ID and Election LawsBoosting corporate clout by making it harder for young and low-income Americans to exercise their right to vote.

– Tax Policy: Encouraging tax cuts for the rich that exacerbate state budget problems.

– Private School Vouchers: Taking aim at public education by bolstering risky, wasteful, and ineffective private school voucher programs.

– Obstructing Environmental Protection: Using energy industry dollars to fight climate change policies and regulations on polluters.

The Condition of Education 2011

Source: Susan Aud William Hussar, Grace Kena, Kevin Bianco, Lauren Frohlich, Jana Kemp, Kim Tahan, Katie Mallory, National Center for Education Statistics, NCES 2011033, May 2011

From the press release:
Enrollment in U.S. schools is expected to grow through the decade, as the U.S. population increases and participation rises. Postsecondary institutions are experiencing enrollment change differentially, with numbers quadrupling in the last decade at private for-profit postsecondary institutions, according to The Condition of Education 2011 report released today by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

The Condition of Education is a congressionally mandated report that provides an annual portrait of education in the United States. There are 50 indicators in this year’s report covering all aspects of education, including early childhood through postsecondary education, student achievement and outcomes, and school environments and resources.

This year’s report features a closer look at postsecondary education by institution level (2-year or 4-year) and control (public, private not-for-profit, or private for-profit). The closer look describes the current state of postsecondary education and how it has been changing in recent decades.

What Savings are Produced by Moving to a Four-Day School Week?

Source: Michael Griffith, Education Commission of the States, May 2011

Due to the current economic downturn, policymakers have been looking for budgetary options that allow for reductions in expenditures without impacting student achievement. One cost-cutting policy that some states and districts have adopted is to keep instructional time the same but shorten the school week. A recent policy brief from ECS found that approximately 120 districts in 17 states have made the move to a four-day school week. But the question still exists — what cost savings, if any, are produced? This report shows what savings a district might realistically expect to realize when moving to a four-day week.

Quality, Cost, and Purpose: Comparisons of Government and Private Sector Payments for Similar Services

Source: Kristina Richardi, Luc Schuster, and Nancy Wagman, Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, January 23, 2011

This paper looks at what our state government pays for child care (which Massachusetts calls ”early education and care” in recognition of the importance of quality early care in the educational development of children), health care, and education, and compares those costs to what is paid for those services in the private sector. We find that in providing child care for lower-income working parents, the state purchases care from providers who also provide care to private clients. The rates that the state pays these providers range from 66 percent to 96 percent of the median market rate in each region. Our state Medicaid program buys health care in the same market as private payers, but pays only 80 percent of the rates paid by private payers. Finally, this paper finds that the average cost of public schools, $13,142 per student, is dramatically below the cost of private schools, which average $32,084 per student – and generally educate children from less challenging backgrounds.

Unionization in the Cleaning Industry

Source: Jon Barton, Services, Vol. 30 no. 6, November/December 2010

Across the Country, more and more office building owners are selecting responsible cleaning contractors who pay decent wages and benefits to the janitors who work to maintain their assets. These building owners recognize that investing in workers improves the quality of service to their properties and adds value to local economies and communities. Unfortunately, continual pressure to lower costs, exacerbated by the broader economic crisis, has eroded gains for low-wage janitors, putting improvements in service and the health of buildings at risk while jeopardizing the safety and health of janitors.

Before School Districts Go Broke: A Proposal for Federal Reform

Source: Kristi L. Bowman, MSU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 08-21, 2010

From the abstract:
School districts across the country continue to face falling revenues and are scrambling to cut their budgets and adjust to leaner times. But districts have never had to make such drastic adjustments – and some of them are nearing a point of fiscal crisis. In fact, in summer 2011, we will see school districts hit what education law and policy experts call the “funding cliff”: revenue from state and local sources will not have rebounded, and the federal stimulus funding approved in August 2010 will nearly have run out. A nation-wide solution is needed, and this Article proposes just that. First, the Article defines the problem, looking beyond the recession to examine the systemic and situational challenges in school finance that the recession has illuminated. Second, the Article searches federal and state statutes and regulations for legal mechanisms that are sufficient to deal with school districts’ current and future fiscal crises and finds a substantial gap: in 19 states, not one legal mechanism is available to school districts in fiscal crisis (including federal municipal bankruptcy), and in the remaining 31 states, there is considerable variation in the utility of the authorized legal mechanisms. Third, the Article proposes that when Congress reauthorizes No Child Left Behind, which it is expected to do in 2011, it should include fiscal accountability provisions that require states to (1) help districts create immediate, additional cost savings, (2) publicly monitor districts’ fiscal health and create a plan for escalating involvement when a district nears and reaches fiscal crisis, and (3) assist in stabilizing districts’ revenues long-term.

Hot Topic: Education

Source: Council of State Governments, Capitol Ideas, Vol. 53 no. 5, September-October 2010

In this issue of Capitol Ideas we share the challenges and celebrate the success states are experiencing in their quest to adequately fund and effectively design high performance educational experiences for today’s students.
Articles include:
* Duncan on the Issues
* Common Core State Standards
* Federalism & Schools
* School Nutrition
* Civics Education
* Civics Education & Voting
* Teaching September 11th
* Charter Schools
* Funding Education
* Funding Higher Education

Local Support for Nutrition Integrity in Schools

Source: Ethan A. Bergman, Ruth W. Gordon, Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Volume 110, Issue 8, August 2010

From the abstract:
It is the position of the American Dietetic Association (ADA) that schools and communities have a shared responsibility to provide students with access to high-quality, affordable, nutritious foods and beverages. School-based nutrition services, including the provision of meals through the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program, are an integral part of the total education program. Strong wellness policies promote environments that enhance nutrition integrity and help students to develop lifelong healthy behaviors. ADA actively supported the 2004 and proposed 2010 Child Nutrition reauthorization which determines school nutrition policy. ADA believes that the Dietary Guidelines for Americans should serve as the foundation for all food and nutrition assistance programs and should apply to all foods and beverages sold or served to students during the school day. Local wellness policies are mandated by federal legislation for all school districts participating in the National School Lunch Program. These policies support nutrition integrity, including a healthy school environment. Nutrition integrity also requires coordinating nutrition education and promotion and funding research on program outcomes. Registered dietitians and dietetic technicians, registered, and other credentialed staff, are essential for nutrition integrity in schools to perform in policy-making, management, education, and community-building roles. A healthy school environment can be achieved through adequate funding of school meals programs and through implementation and evaluation of strong local wellness policies.
See also:
Press release

Unlocking the Potential of School Nursing: Keeping Children Healthy, In School, and Ready to Learn

Source: Charting Nursing’s Future, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, August 18, 2010

From the summary:
A new brief from RWJF’s Charting Nursing’s Future series highlights the vital role school nurses play, and the funding challenge schools confront supporting nurses’ work keeping children healthy.

For more than a century, school nurses have played a critical role in keeping U.S. schoolchildren healthy. Their duties go far beyond tending to recess scrapes and bruises. They deal with students’ chronic health conditions, life-threatening allergy and asthma events and epidemics of various sorts; they connect students to substance-abuse treatment, mental, behavioral and reproductive health services; they screen for vision, hearing and other problems that might impair learning; they ensure immunization compliance and administer first aid; and more. In short, school nurses provide care that many children would not otherwise receive, and greatly reduce the overall cost of care because they are able to intercept and address problems before they become severe and costly.