Category Archives: Schools K-12

School Spending Per Pupil Increased by 3.2 Percent, U.S. Census Bureau Reports

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Press Release, Release Number: CB18-TPS.28, May 21, 2018

The amount spent per pupil for public elementary-secondary education for all 50 states and the District of Columbia increased by 3.2 percent to $11,762 during the 2016 fiscal year, according to new tables released today by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The increase in spending in 2016 was due in part to the increase in revenue across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. In 2016, public elementary-secondary education revenue, from all sources, amounted to $670.9 billion, up 4.6 percent from the prior year. This is the largest increase since 2007.

Other highlights include:
Of the 50 states, New York ($22,366), the District of Columbia ($19,159), Connecticut ($18,958), New Jersey ($18,402) and Vermont ($17,873) spent the most per pupil in 2016. California (9.8 percent), Washington (7.4 percent), Hawaii (7.0 percent), Utah (5.8 percent) and New York (5.5 percent) saw the largest percentage increases in current spending per pupil from 2015 to 2016. To see the top 10 school districts by current spending per pupil, see the graphic Top 10 Largest School Districts by Per Pupil Current Spending.

Within public school systems, Mississippi (14.6 percent), Arizona (13.8 percent), South Dakota (13.5 percent), New Mexico (13.5 percent) and Montana (12.4 percent) received the highest percentage of their revenues from the federal government, while public school systems in New Jersey (4.1 percent), Connecticut (4.2 percent), Massachusetts (4.4 percent), New York (5.1 percent) and Minnesota (5.3 percent) received the lowest.

Schools See Steep Drop in Librarians, New Analysis Finds

Source: Sarah D. Sparks and Alex Harwin, Education Week, May 16, 2018 | Corrected: May 17, 2018

American schools—particularly those serving black and Latino students—have seen a precipitous drop in their school librarians since the Great Recession.

The nation’s public school districts have lost 20 percent of their librarians and media specialists since 2000, from more than 54,000 to less than 44,000 in 2015, according to an Education Week Research Center analysis of federal data. Many districts lost librarians even as student populations grew by 7 percent nationwide. For example, over the past decade in Denver public schools, student enrollment increased by 25 percent, but the number of librarians decreased by 60 percent. ….

…. The evidence is building that the loss of school librarians could put schools at a disadvantage academically. For example, two studies of national and Colorado-specific data suggested that losing a school librarian was associated with lower 4th grade reading scores while gaining one was associated with higher scores. A meta-analysis of 34 statewide studies also suggested that schools with high-quality library programs had higher reading test scores and, for high schools, graduation rates. ….

Related:
School Librarian, Where Art Thou?
Source: Keith Curry Lance, School Library Journal, March 16, 2018

Behind the teacher strikes that have roiled five states – Why non-union states have seen the most unrest

Source: The Economist, May 5, 2018

From a block away, the striking teachers camped out around Arizona’s capitol at first looked like a solid sea of red, the colour of their T-shirts and tents. On closer inspection, they distinguished themselves the way the teachers have always distinguished their classrooms—with handmade signs. Leah Falcon (“Arizona exports: Cotton, copper, teachers”), who teaches middle-school maths, said she was “fighting because my kids deserve better than 34 students in a class.” Megan Marohn (“Arizona Spending per Student: $9,000. Per Inmate: $24,000”) is a classroom aide and lifelong Republican who frets that Arizona’s Republican legislature and governor “put the value of corporations above students”. Jay Bertelsen (“Christian Non-Union Conservative Teacher Fighting for Funding”) has taught computer science outside Tucson for 25 years; his children qualify for Arizona’s state-subsidised health care for poor families.

Grievances such as these have motivated teacher strikes in five states. They look likely to continue—galvanising public-sector workers in states where Democrats hope to make gains in this autumn’s midterm elections. ….

Millionaires Average Annual Tax Cut in North Carolina Is Comparable to Average Teacher’s Salary

Source: Meg Wiehe, Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, Press Release, May 11, 2018

….The misplaced priorities are evident: The recent tax cuts will provide the state’s millionaires with an average annual tax cut of more than $45,000, which is nearly as much as the average teacher’s annual salary of about $50,000…..

The Real Reason Behind Recent Teacher Strikes — And Why They’re Likely to Continue

Source: Katherine Barrett & Richard Greene, Governing, May 10, 2018

It’s about much more than low salaries.

…. In 26 states, average teacher salaries, adjusted for inflation, were less in 2016 than they were at the end of the 20th century, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Two years ago, an Economic Policy Institute (EPI) report documented the dive in weekly wages for teachers compared to other workers with comparable education requirements. In 2015, an average teacher made 17 percent less than comparable workers in salary. Back in 1994, the salary gap was 1.8 percent. ….

…. Teachers in Oklahoma still worry about the dangers to student education of going to a four-day school week in some districts. In Kentucky, there’s been no money for teacher professional development, extended school services have been cut and schools haven’t been able to spend money on textbooks.
Arizona school districts will still struggle to fund all the needs that have piled up. Years of cuts have, for example, left the school transportation budget severely underfunded. ….

Related:
Where Teacher Salaries Most Lag Behind Private Sector
Source: Mike Maciag, Governing, April 30, 2018

States where teachers are protesting have among the largest pay discrepancies when compared with similarly educated private-sector workers.

Shutdown of Texas Schools Probe Shows Trump Administration Pullback on Civil Rights

Source: Annie Waldman, Pro Publica & Mother Jones, April 23, 2018

The U.S. Department of Education was investigating why black students in Bryan, Texas, are almost four times as likely as white students to be suspended. Then Betsy DeVos took over.

Related:
2015-16 Civil Rights Data Collection: School and Climate Safety
Source: U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, April 2018

Georgia Bus Drivers Joined the School Uprising and Paid a Price

Source: Rachel M. Cohen, The Intercept, April 22, 2018
The red-state school uprising is spreading to educators around the country, with teachers in Colorado and Arizona now planning walkouts to demand better treatment from state and county governments. But the widespread public support that has helped carry the teachers to victories so far has been less present for blue-collar workers following in their footsteps. In Georgia, bus drivers who organized their own work stoppage last week were met with public condemnation and immediate firings.

On Thursday, the same day that the votes in favor of a walkout were tallied in Arizona, nearly 400 school bus drivers in DeKalb County, Georgia, stayed home from work, staging a “sickout” to protest their low salaries and meager benefits.  

Whether the school bus drivers can succeed in winning their demands and maintaining broad popular support remains to be seen, but the protest provides an important test case on whether these teacher movements will lead to a broader working-class uprising or stay limited to organizing among a narrower band of white-collar professionals. The bus drivers are not building their case around the idea that their unique talents merit greater monetary reward, but that they simply need and deserve to be treated more fairly…..

…..While the teachers strikes in West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Arizona have boasted the vocal support of local school boards and superintendents, the school district leadership in DeKalb County has offered no such solidarity to the school bus drivers. In fact, seven bus drivers were fired on Thursday, identified as “sickout ringleaders.”….

Why More Than A Million Teachers Can’t Use Social Security

Source: Cory Turner, NPR, All Things Considered, April 20, 2018

Teachers have staged protests in recent weeks in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Colorado and Arizona. Some are fighting lawmakers who want to scale back their pensions.

It’s no secret that many states have badly underfunded their teacher pension plans for decades and now find themselves drowning in debt. But this pensions fight is also complicated by one little-known fact:

More than a million teachers don’t have Social Security to fall back on.

To understand why, we need to go back to Aug. 14, 1935. That is when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the original Social Security Act.

The Teacher Strikes Show That Workers Are Really, Finally, Fed Up

Source: Eillie Anzilotti, Fast Company, April 19, 2018

By walking out of their classrooms, U.S. teachers are part of a global uprising against low wages for the benefit of increasing corporate profits. ….

….Legislatures in more conservative states have granted tax cuts to corporations, which have constricted budgets. To balance the budgets, the things that get cut are salaries and benefits. In the private sector, there’s often a similar story: Companies keep salaries and benefits low–or outsource work to independent contractors who don’t get any benefits at all–in order to maximize profitability and return money to shareholders.

That leaves us, Orleck says, with a broad coalition of workers, both public and private sector, whose livelihoods have suffered for the benefit of corporations. And as the teachers’ strikes–and scores of labor strikes around the world–have shown, that system has reached its breaking point…..