Category Archives: Schools K-12

Facility Planning: School Renewals

Source: James E. Rydeen, American School and University, June 1, 2008

1950s-’60s schools: Obsolescence or longevity?

Forty-three percent of existing public schools were built in the 1950s-’60s era. This era seems to have gained the reputation of cheap, energy-inefficient buildings that were not intended to last more than 30 years.

A study at one school district estimated it would cost $2.1 billion to fix its aging buildings. Many buildings were well-kept and clean, but their mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems were old and inefficient; the food-service equipment needed replacing; and the facilities did not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Most of the buildings are only 30 to 50 years old and are showing signs of water damage, and wear and tear.

Experience has proven that public schools must be designed for long-term use — much longer than 30 years.

Many institutions keep up with most of their annual facility maintenance, but not with replacing major systems and equipment because annual budgets cannot cover the costs. Avoiding such dilemmas requires planning, scheduling and budgeting for the eventual upgrades.

Characteristics of the 100 Largest Public Elementary and Secondary School Districts in the United States: 2005-06

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, Statistical Analysis Report, NCES 2008-339, June 2008

From the summary:
This annual report provides basic information from the Common Core of Data about the nation’s largest public school districts in the 2005-06 school year. The data include such characteristics as the numbers of students and teachers, number of high school completers and the averaged freshman graduation rate, and revenues and expenditures. Findings include: In 2005-06, these 100 largest districts enrolled 23 percent of all public school students, and employed 22 percent of all public school teachers. The districts produced 20 percent of all high school completers (both diploma and other completion credential recipients) in 2004-05. Across the districts, the averaged freshman graduation rate was 69.5 percent. Three states — California, Florida, and Texas — accounted for almost half of the 100 largest public school districts. Current per-pupil expenditures in fiscal year 2003 ranged from a low of $5,104 in the Puerto Rico School District to a high of $18,878 in the District of Columbia Public School District.

Governors and Public Education: A Trend Analysis Of Gubernatorial Messages 2004-2008

Source: Communities for Quality Education, 2008

From the press release:
A new report from Communities for Quality Education (CQE) analyzes State of the State gubernatorial addresses between 2004-2008 and highlights specific education policy trends. The report shows that between 2004 and 2007, every governor who delivered a State of the State address stressed the importance of education to economic growth. In fact, no issue surrounding education has been focused on as much by governors in their State of the State addresses as the link between education and economic prosperity.
See also:
Governors’ Statements

School Enrollment in the United States: 2006

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Housing and Household Economic Statistics Division,
Education & Social Stratification Branch, May 08, 2008

From the press release:
A national-level update of characteristics of the nation’s more than 75 million students. Eight tables include number of students by attributes such as age, sex, race, Hispanic origin, family income, type of college and vocational course enrollment. This Internet-only release comes from data collected each October as part of the Current Population Survey. The full report with analysis of the details is expected later this summer.

Waiting to Be Won Over -Teachers Speak on the Profession, Unions and Reform

Source: Ann Duffett, Steve Farkas, Andrew J. Rotherham, Elena Silva, Education Sector, May 2008

From the summary:
American public education is in the midst of intense change, and teachers, in particular, are facing pressure to produce better outcomes for students. As policymakers, teachers unions, and other stakeholders react to changing demands on the nation’s public education system, there remains considerable debate about what teachers think and what they want. Too often assumptions define the conversation rather than actual evidence of teachers’ views. In an effort to facilitate and inform this conversation, Education Sector and the FDR Group surveyed 1,010 K-12 public school teachers about their views on the teaching profession, teachers unions, and a host of reforms aimed at improving teacher quality.

Good Buildings, Better Schools: An Economic Stimulus Opportunity With Long-Term Benefits

Source: Mary Filardo, EPI Briefing Paper, April 29, 2008

From the summary:
The nation’s 97,000 public school buildings comprise an estimated 6.6 billion square feet of space on over 1 million acres of land. And while states and local communities invested over $500 billion in K-12 school building improvements from 1995 to 2004, considerable additional investments are needed to ensure that the nation’s public schools are healthy, safe, environmentally sound, and built and maintained to support a high-quality education.

Today, many of the nation’s schools face the combined challenges of deteriorating conditions, out-of date design, and changing utilization pressures (including intense overcrowding in some communities and rapidly declining enrollments in others). These combined deficiencies impair the quality of teaching and learning and contribute to health and safety problems for staff and students. Building design and facility conditions have also been associated with teacher motivation and student achievement.
See also:
Press release

An Idea Whose Time Has Gone: Conservatives Abandon Their Support for School Vouchers

Source: Gerg Anrig, The Washington Monthly, April 2008

…But in recent months, almost unnoticed by the mainstream media, the school voucher movement has abruptly stalled. Some stalwart advocates of vouchers have either repudiated the idea entirely or considerably tempered their enthusiasm for it. Exhibit A is “School Choice Isn’t Enough,” an article in the winter 2008 City Journal (the quarterly published by the conservative Manhattan Institute) written by the former voucher proponent Sol Stern. Acknowledging that voucher programs for poor children had “hit a wall,” Stern concluded: “Education reformers ought to resist unreflective support for elegant-sounding theories, derived from the study of economic activity, that don’t produce verifiable results in the classroom.” His conversion has triggered an intense debate in conservative circles. The center-right education scholar Chester E. Finn Jr., president of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation and a longtime critic of public school bureaucracies and teachers unions, told the New York Sun that he was sympathetic to Stern’s argument. In his newly published memoirs, Finn also writes of his increasing skepticism that “the market’s invisible hand” produces improved performance on its own. Howard Fuller, an African American who was the superintendent of schools in Milwaukee when the voucher program was launched there, and who received substantial support from the Bradley Foundation and other conservative institutions over the years, has conceded, “It hasn’t worked like we thought it would in theory.” From all appearances, then, the voucher movement may not long outlive its founder, Friedman, or its most vigorous advocate and funder, Michael Joyce, who both died in 2006. How did one of the conservative policy world’s most cherished causes crumble so quickly?

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