National Per Student Public School Spending Nears $9,000

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, CB07-76, May 24, 2007

The nation’s public school districts spent an average of $8,701 per student on elementary and secondary education in fiscal year 2005, up 5 percent from $8,287 the previous year, the U.S. Census Bureau reported today.

Findings from Public Education Finances: 2005, show that New York spent $14,119 per student — the highest amount among states and state equivalents. Just behind was neighboring New Jersey at $13,800, the District of Columbia at $12,979, Vermont ($11,835) and Connecticut ($11,572). Seven of the top 10 with the highest per pupil expenditures were in the Northeast.

Utah spent the least per student ($5,257), followed by Arizona ($6,261), Idaho ($6,283), Mississippi ($6,575) and Oklahoma ($6,613). All 10 of the states with the lowest spending per student were in the West or South.

The report and associated data files contain information for all local public school systems in the country. For example, in New York City, the largest school district in the country, per pupil spending was $13,755.

Community Health Worker National Workforce Study

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Bureau of Health Professions, March 2007

During the past decade, private insurers, business enterprises and the Federal government have implemented or proposed changes in health care delivery and financing. These payers were reacting to unprecedented increases in health-related expenditures amid hypercompetitive global markets. Simply, the cost of providing adequate health care to employees and the population at large had become very high.

Some viewed the community health worker (CHW) workforce as a component of cost-effective strategies addressing the health care needs of underserved communities. However, there was little rigorous, comprehensive research about the CHW workforce.

This report describes a comprehensive national study of the community health worker workforce and of the factors that affected its utilization and development.

Annotated Bibliography

Public Services Innovation Through Technology

Source: David Pym, Richard Taylor, Chris Tofts, HP Labs, HPL-2007-22, February 16, 2007

Governments struggle to understand how technologies may be used to innovate in the development and delivery of public sectors. Frequently technologies are seen as quick and effective fixes for problems that may run far deeper than obvious process and user dynamics. As often, solutions are considered as ‘point provision’ and as such fail to recognise the complex co-evolution of society, economics, the world outside a government’s borders and control, and the technologies themselves. This paper summarises a number of key areas that must be understood in order to effectively innovate through the introduction and management of services mediated by new technologies.

Women at Work: A Progress Report

Source: W. Michael Cox and Richard Alm, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas Economic Letter, Vol. 2 no. 5, May 2007

Recent decades have seen a revolution in women’s work, marked by gains in labor force participation, college study, occupations and entrepreneurship. A commitment to education and work suggests U.S. women will continue to fare better at work, but it’s hard to imagine they’ll match recent decades’ rate of progress.

The growth of their labor force participation has leveled off in recent years, suggesting the surge of women into the job market has run its course. Women’s share of business ownership has risen only modestly. With a large portion of today’s women already seeking higher education, further increases in the share of college graduates will come only slowly. Women approach or have achieved parity in many professions.

The past 50 years’ experience suggests, however, that U.S. women will respond to incentives and opportunities. They’ve shown a desire to channel their efforts into sectors and occupations that are likely to grow. It’s a good formula for further progress in the workplace.

Social Security: The Chilean Approach to Retirement

Source: Christopher Tamborini, Congressional Research Service, Order Code RL34006, May 17, 2007

Over the past few years, there has been intense debate about Social Security reform in the United States. A number of options, ranging from changing the benefit formula to adding individual accounts, has been discussed. The policy debate takes place against the backdrop of an aging population, rising longevity, and relatively low fertility rates, which pose long-range financial challenges to the Social Security system. According to the 2007 Social Security Trustees Report’s intermediate assumptions, the Social Security trust funds are projected to experience cash-flow deficits in 2017 and to become exhausted in 2041.

As policymakers consider how to address Social Security’s financing challenges, efforts of Social Security reform across the world have gained attention. One of the most oft-cited international cases of reform is Chile. Chile initiated sweeping retirement reforms in 1981 that replaced a state-run, pay-as-you-go defined benefit retirement system with a private, mandatory system of individual retirement accounts where benefits are dependent on the account balance. As a pioneer of individual retirement accounts, Chile has become a case study of pension reform around the world. Although Chile’s experience is not directly comparable to the situation in the United States because of large differences between the countries, knowledge of the case may be useful for American policymakers.

The Financial Vulnerability of Families

Source: Christian Weller and Kate Sabatini, Challenge: The Magazine of Economic Affairs, Volume 50, Number 3, May-June 2007
(subscription required)

Few doubt that the housing boom is over. But the extent of the housing decline and its consequences for the economy are subject to much speculation. The authors present a detailed and comprehensive picture of Americans’ dependence on housing and are concerned about the extent of their vulnerability to future economic shocks.

Wages and the Social Contract – Needed: More Worker Bargaining Power

Source: Thomas A. Kochan, American Prospect, Vol. 18 no. 5, May 2007

From the end of World War II through the mid 1970s, the real wages of American workers nearly doubled, moving up in tandem with the growth in productivity. The United States benefited from an implicit social contract: By working hard and contributing to productivity, profits, and economic growth, workers and their families could expect improved living standards, greater job security, and a secure and dignified retirement. This social contract broke down after 1980, as employees lost their bargaining power. Since then, productivity has grown more than 70 percent while real compensation of nonmanagerial workers has remained flat.

Wages for the lowest-paid workers have collapsed even more than for average workers. While conventional explanations for stagnant wages and increased inequality— such as those that emphasize technological changes and increased premium for skills—may be part of the story, they fail to take into account the historical policy and institutional forces that created and sustained the postwar social contract, or to understand what needs to be done to restore it in a way consistent with the needs of today’s workforce and economy.

Making Poverty History

Source: Mark Greenberg, American Prospect, Vol. 18 no. 5, May 2007

We might not expect TV’s American Idol to be out in front of most presidential candidates on issues of national importance, but that’s what happened this spring. AI’s producers announced that they would dedicate two evenings to raising funds and awareness for children and young people in poverty, in both America and Africa. The show’s commitment stands in contrast to most of the 2008 candidates. What does American Idol know that they don’t?

American Idol isn’t alone. In the last two years, there has been a surge of interest in ending poverty in America. In the faith community, Sojourners and Call to Renewal announced a Covenant for a New America and urged others to help them cut child poverty by half in 10 years. Catholic Charities USA created a Campaign to Reduce Poverty in America. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg created an Economic Opportunity Commission and charged it with proposing ways to promote opportunity and reduce poverty in the city, and he has begun implementing the commission’s recommendations. A Task Force on Poverty, Work and Opportunity of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, led by Los Angeles Mayor

Antonio Villaraigosa, made a set of ambitious recommendations. Governors, mayors, and legislatures in Connecticut, Minnesota, California, and Wisconsin—among others—have launched or proposed initiatives. These efforts are occurring against the backdrop of the larger international efforts to make poverty history.

Pandemic Planning Blog

Source: Secretary Leavitt (host), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

On June 13, Michael O. Leavitt, Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, convened a leadership forum on pandemic preparedness, which brought together highly influential leaders from the business, faith, civic and health care sectors to discuss how best to help Americans become more prepared for a possible influenza pandemic. The Department is hosting this five-week blog to expand the conversation as part of an ongoing effort by the Department to help Americans become more prepared. HHS does not edit blog postings and cannot ensure that all included links are functioning. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Web Sites Start Reporting Hospital Mortality Data

Source: Paula Rasich, Hospitals & Health Networks, Vol. 81 no. 6, June 2007

The next evolution in quality reporting is here as outcomes data goes public.

As the number of public Web sites on hospital performance have flourished during the past couple of years, mortality data has been noticeably absent. That’s all changing. The question is: Are hospitals ready?

This month, the federal government’s Hospital Compare Web site, which posts data on how well hospitals meet performance measures, will for the first time publish 30-day mortality rates for heart attack and heart failure. Pneumonia will be added soon. Using Medicare claims data, the site will show whether a hospital’s death rate is better or worse than what is expected for a hospital’s patient population.