Category Archives: Education

Child Care Affordability Is Out of Reach for Many Low-Income Hispanic Households

Source: Danielle A. Crosby, Julia L. Mendez, Amanda Barnes, National Research Center on Hispanic Children & Families, October 2019

From the overview:
Hispanic households tend to have both high levels of parental employment and low levels of income, making access to good-quality child care a critical need for these families. Child care has the potential to serve as a two-generation investment strategy, with both short- and long- term economic and social benefits, by supporting parents’ ability to work and providing enrichment opportunities for children.

Affordability is a key factor shaping families’ access to care. Even when communities have an adequate supply of good-quality child care that meets parents’ and children’s needs and families are aware of these options, care remains inaccessible if costs are beyond household budgets. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommends that child care be considered affordable if family out-of-pocket costs are equivalent to 7 percent or less of total household income. Yet in every state in the nation, the average price of formal child care (e.g., centers and licensed or regulated family child care) exceeds this recommended benchmark of affordability.

To reduce financial barriers and support more equitable access, several federal and state programs provide low-income families with no- or low-cost early care and education (ECE) options, including Head Start, public pre-kindergarten, and subsidies through the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF). While the reach of these programs has expanded over the years, funding constraints mean that not all eligible children can be served. In the absence of such programs or when co-payments are high, low-income families are often priced out of the formal, licensed care settings that tend to be more stable and of higher quality than more informal arrangements.

States’ Use of the Child Care and Development Block Grant Funding Increase

Source: Patti Banghart, Carlise King, Elizabeth Bedrick, Ashley Hirilall, Sarah Daily, Child Trends, October 2019

From the summary:
In 2018, Congress appropriated an increase of more than $2 billion to support states and territories in meeting the goals and requirements of the 2014 reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG). View the interactive maps and state profiles on this page to learn more about how states are using or planning to use this funding increase and the challenges they still face.

In 2014, Congress reauthorized the CCDBG, setting new standards around eligibility for child care subsidies, child care quality, health and safety, access to child care, and workforce supports for early childhood educators. The 2014 reauthorization law included policy changes requiring states to:
• Set provider payment rates to promote equal access to the child care market for parents receiving child care subsidies.
• Implement family-friendly eligibility policies that help families keep their subsidy without interruptions.
• Enhance health and safety practices for all CCDBG providers, including health and safety training and inspections and comprehensive background checks.
• Expand consumer education, which includes increasing online access to information on child development and other financial assistance programs and creating a hotline to report safety concerns.
• Increase the amounts of set-asides that states must spend toward supporting the quality and development of the child care workforce.
• Expand access to child care for vulnerable families and priority groups whose needs and characteristics limit the child care options currently available to them.

Related:
National Maps
1. Use of Federal CCDBG funding increase
2. Implementing specific reauthorization requirements
3. Challenges to implementing reauthorization goals and requirements
4. Increased state funding for child care assistance

State profiles
Information on how each state has used, or plans to use, increased federal funds.

Data notes (XLS) »

Thriving cities, challenged schools: teacher strikes highlight districts’ credit issues

Source: Helen Cregger, Denise Rappmund, Naomi Richman, Leonard Jones, Alexandra S. Parker, Moody’s, Sector In-Depth, September 17, 2019
(subscription required)

Given enrollment declines, high housing prices, tighter labor markets and a growing proportion of legacy fixed costs, meeting teacher pay and staffing demands will continue to challenge districts, especially those with more constrained finances.

Moving Upward and Onward: Income Mobility at Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Source: Rutgers Center for Minority Serving Institutions (CMSI), September 2019

From the press release:
More students experience upward mobility at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) than Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs) asserts a new report published by the Rutgers Center for Minority Serving Institutions (CMSI). The report entitled, Moving Upward and Onward: Income Mobility at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, examines the intergenerational income mobility of recent HBCU graduates and explores upward mobility variations and economic stratification based on institution type.

The report begins with a foreword by Dillard University President Walter Kimbrough, which provides an important narrative on how HBCUs have routinely supported low-income and Pell Grant-eligible students. Kimbrough situates the value of these storied institutions within the historical context of higher education. According to the report, HBCUs enroll far more low-income students than PWIs. More specifically, the report claims that nearly one-quarter of HBCU students are low-income and more than half of all HBCU students come from households in the bottom 40% of the U.S. income distribution.

Three Big Ideas for a Future of Less Work and a Three-Dimensional Alternative

Source: Cynthia Estlund, Law and Contemporary Problems, Vol. 82 no. 3, 2019

….At the same time, each of those three big ideas holds within it an essential component of a sound three dimensional response to the uncertain but real prospect of job losses. In lieu of UBI [universal basic income], we should expand universal social benefits—starting with health care and higher education—and income support for the working and non-working poor. In lieu of a federal job guarantee, we should ramp up public investments in infrastructure, social and community services, and early education, all of which would address unmet societal needs while creating decent jobs. And in lieu of (or at least before) reducing weekly hours of work across the board, we should expand access to paid leaves, holidays, and vacations, as well as voluntary part-time work and retirement security; we could thereby spread work and meet varied individual needs and preferences through days, weeks, months, and years of time off.

In combination, these three interventions—expanded universal social benefits and income support, public investments in physical and social infrastructure and the job creation those will entail, and wider access to paid leaves and respites from work—would advance core objectives of each of the three big ideas while muting their disadvantages. Together they would both cushion and offset automation-related job losses, while spreading the work that remains and maintaining or boosting incomes. This trio of policies could and should also be funded in a way that helps to redistribute income from the top to the bottom of an egregiously and increasingly lopsided income distribution.

…..In what follows, I will fill in the outlines of this argument. Part II will briefly set out some normative priors about the multiple ends we should be pursuing as we face a future of less work. A long Part III will take up each of the Three Big Ideas, briefly tracing their genealogy and identifying some strengths and weaknesses of each. Part IV will return to the core aspirations of the Three Big Ideas, and sketch a combination of the three – a three-dimensional strategy – that can preserve much of the good while avoiding much that is problematic in the more single-minded Three Big Ideas. ….

The Effects of Performance Audits on School District Financial Behavior

Source: Paul N. Thompson, Mark St. John, Public Finance Review, Online First, Published September 8, 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Performance audits are a form of weak financial oversight intended to curb inefficient spending and help alleviate financial problems. This study examines the effect of these performance audits on school district finances in Ohio, where performance audits are used on their own and within the context of the state’s fiscal stress labeling system—a strong financial oversight system. Using a difference-in-differences analysis, we find school districts do reduce expenditures as a result of these performance audits. These changes in financial behavior are found even for performance audits in nonfiscal stress districts, suggesting that weak oversight programs may be an effective means toward changing fiscal behavior. Despite the financial changes in nonfiscal stress districts that receive audits, there appears to be little impact on school district proficiency rates. These results suggest that audits may provide a useful mechanism for changing financial behavior of school districts without much associated efficiency losses.

How Local Economic Conditions Affect School Finances, Teacher Quality, and Student Achievement: Evidence from the Texas Shale Boom

Source: Joseph Marchand, Jeremy G. Weber, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Early View, August 29, 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Whether improved local economic conditions lead to better student outcomes is theoretically ambiguous and will depend on how schools use additional revenues and how students and teachers respond to rising private sector wages. The Texas boom in shale oil and gas drilling, with its large and localized effects on wages and the tax base, provides a unique opportunity to address this question that spans the areas of education, labor markets, and public finance. An empirical approach using variation in shale geology across school districts shows that the boom reduced test scores and student attendance, despite tripling the local tax base and creating a revenue windfall. Schools spent additional revenue on capital projects and debt service, but not on teachers. As the gap between teacher wages and private sector wages grew, so did teacher turnover and the percentage of inexperienced teachers, which helps explain the decline in student achievement. Changes in student composition did not account for the achievement decline but instead helped to moderate it. The findings illustrate the potential value of using revenue growth to retain teachers in times of rising private sector wages.

Highlights from occupational safety and health continuing education needs assessment

Source: Joshua G. Scott, Erin Shore, Carol Brown, Carisa Harris, Mitchel A. Rosen, American Journal of Industrial Medicine,
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Background:
There is a lack of trained Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) professionals able to meet the current and future demand for such expertize in the United States. Many OSH professionals are required to perform duties, which are outside of their primary area of expertize; thus, expansion of continuing education (CE) may be necessary to properly train individuals for new OSH responsibilities.

Methods:
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health‐funded Education and Research Centers collectively developed and distributed an internet‐based survey to gauge the CE needs and interests of the OSH workforce.

Results:
A total of 2064 responses were received. The most common primary professions represented were safety (28%), occupational health nursing (18%), and industrial hygiene (12%). The majority of respondents (61%) reported that they perform work activities outside of those associated with their primary OSH profession. The CE offerings with the highest interest among respondents were related to safety. Other courses with high levels of interest included topics such as legal issues in OSH (88%), compliance (88%), risk management (85%), OSH management (83%), risk communication (83%), and communication in accident prevention (81%). Health and safety leadership (82%), health and safety culture (78%) and total worker health (74%) were also significant interests.

Conclusions:
It is important to be responsive to the evolving needs of the OS&H community. Developing relevant courses will help ensure that OS&H professionals have access to the training they need to perform essential job functions and keep employees healthy and safe.

Meeting the Need: Developing Certification for Advanced Water Treatment Operators

Source: Steven Garner, Journal – AWWA, Volume 111 Issue 9,
September 2019

(subscription required)

Key Takeaways
The California–Nevada Section of AWWA and California Water Environment Association sought a new industry certification for operators working with advanced water treatment (AWT) processes.

A diverse set of stakeholders and experts added their perspectives on the development of the new certification.

The AWTO Grade 3 exam was released in July 2019.