Archive for the 'School Finance' Category

June
26th 2015
Jeffco School Board Recall Underway: What’s Really Going On?

Posted under Education Politics & Public Charter Schools & School Board & School Finance & Suburban Schools & Teachers & Union

It’s Friday afternoon in the summertime. I should be kicking back and enjoying the great outdoors, maybe playing in the pool or racing my remote-controlled cars.

But no. Teachers union leaders hide behind a group of parents to file a recall petition against the three conservative Jeffco school board members:

One of the stated reasons for the recall is the board majority’s consideration of reviewing the new Advanced Placement U.S. history curriculum, which prompted waves of student protests in the suburban Denver district last year. But the group also accuses the members of meeting in secret and wasting taxpayer money, including paying the superintendent they hired $280,000.

So really… that’s it? Hire a superintendent for slightly more than his predecessor, at a rate comparable to or less than other large Colorado school district superintendents? Not increase transparency enough? Or maybe it really is based on the clever rewrite of history to concern people about non-existent censorship?

Sigh. Wonder what the #MeanGirlz think about all this? Maybe they grew tired of bullying the same old staff members. Continue Reading »

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June
24th 2015
Big Bucks or Big Misconception? Report Sheds Light on Philanthropy in Charter Sector

Posted under Public Charter Schools & School Board & School Finance

Last Friday, we celebrated votes in two of my favorite districts, Jeffco and Thompson, to provide more equitable funding to charter school students. In that post, I briefly mentioned that there were some inaccurate anti-equitability arguments floating around before the board votes. We’re going to tackle one of those misconceptions today: The argument that charters do not need more funding because they pull in untold sums of money from philanthropic sources.

First, though, a disclaimer: We will not be playing the irritating fill-in-the-blank game that often crops up in charter funding discussions. You know the one. It involves a statement that goes something like this: “Charters receive all their money from [INSERT SCARY ORGANIZATION OR INDIVIUDAL NAME]!”

Anti-charter folks really love to go down this road from time to time, and they do occasionally come up with some pretty entertaining conspiracy theories. Even so, we’re going to stick with the numbers. I’ve never much cared for black helicopters, anyway. They’d be much cooler with green polka dots.

Fortunately, we have plenty of numbers to stick with thanks to a brand spanking new report from the University of Arkansas’ Department of Education Reform. Continue Reading »

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June
19th 2015
Thompson and Jeffco Stand up for Fair Charter Funding

Posted under Education Politics & School Board & School Choice & School Finance

Last Friday, pressing Colorado education news forced us to do a less-than-happy Friday post. This week, pressing Colorado education news is forcing us to do a fantastically happy blog post. I guess my dad was right. It really does all even out in the end.

Today’s big news is that two of our favorite districts, Jefferson County and Thompson, passed budgets this week that reflect more equitable funding for charter school students. The move toward funding equalization was driven by reform majorities on both district school boards. From Sherrie Peif’s latest Complete Colorado story:

Jefferson County Public School District and the Thompson School District both agreed to shift some of the districts’ money to the charter schools, and in the case of Thompson, dipped into district reserves to provide additional funding for charter students …

… In Thompson, $450,000 was set aside for the district’s two charter schools, New Vision and Loveland Classical. The increase works out to about $400 per student. Of the additional money, $191,000 will go to New Vision and $260,000 to Loveland Classical …

… In JeffCo, an additional $2.5 million was set aside to fund the district’s 16 charter schools. The new money is in addition to $5.6 million that was budgeted in 2014-15 after the board learned it would take about $7.4 million to fully equalize mill levy override funding for the district’s charters.

Continue Reading »

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June
9th 2015
New Funding Reports Try to Sound the Alarms, But Simply Don’t Add Up

Posted under Research & School Finance

Are you interested in new K-12 “research” that creates new ways to measure funding, obsesses over inputs, rests on logical leaps, AND challenges its own claims? Well, then I have a couple reports for you!

The headlines create such drama:

Sure, the United States stands at or near the top of the world’s rankings in per-pupil spending, yet its students finish well below that on measures of math and science achievement. But somehow a disaster is looming, if we don’t spend more money. Or is it that money isn’t being spent equitably? Or both?

Let’s start with the Education Law Center’s “Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card.” As its title suggests, the report purports to focus on the issue of whether states provide “fair funding” based on student poverty. Continue Reading »

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June
2nd 2015
New Study on School Funding Assumes Its Way into Trouble

Posted under Research & School Finance

Sometimes I just want to get nerdy. I don’t mean kind of nerdy, like when we throw around phrases like “statistical significance” and call it a day. I mean really, truly nerdy. The kind of nerdy that involves using words like “exogeneity,” which is so obscure a term that Microsoft Word tells me it isn’t a word at all. In response, I proudly push my glasses up my nose and declare that not only is exogeneity a word, it is a word that matters.

What in the world am I talking about? The controversial new Education Next school funding study by C. Kirabo Jackson, Rucker C. Johnson, and Claudia Persico, of course! If you are one of those cool kids who doesn’t spend every morning perusing the latest studies on education, the quick and dirty on the study is this: It upends a great deal of research suggesting that simply increasing public school funding does little to increase academic achievement. Instead, it finds that if one changes the design of the research, large impacts are revealed. The proposed solution? You guessed it: More money.

From the study itself (emphasis added):

Previous national studies have examined the relationship between school resources and student outcomes and found little association for students born after 1950. Those studies, however, suffer from major design limitations. We address those limitations and demonstrate that, in fact, when examined in the right way, it becomes clear that increased school spending is linked to improved outcomes for students, and for low-income students in particular. Investigating the causal effect of school spending increases generated by the passage of SFRs, we conclude that increasing per-pupil spending yields large improvements in educational attainment, wages, and family income, and reductions in the annual incidence of adult poverty for children from low-income families. For children from nonpoor families, we find smaller effects of increased school spending on subsequent educational attainment and family income in adulthood.

This begs an obvious question: What exactly is the “right way” to examine the school funding issue? Continue Reading »

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May
12th 2015
Little Eddie Digs Out After the 2015 Legislative Session

Posted under Education Politics & Private Schools & Public Charter Schools & Rural Schools & School Choice & School Finance & State Legislature & Tax Credits & Testing

The 2015 legislative session ended last week, and I have no doubt you are all eagerly awaiting a report on the progress made—or lack thereof. Luckily for you, I have been diligently digging through the aftermath of 2015’s education battles just as I help dad shovel snow after a big storm. With a whopping 119 education bills introduced, this is no easy task. The work is ongoing. But we can certainly pause to provide a quick overview of the session’s highlights.

Fortunately, a discussion of actual legislative movement this year is relatively straightforward because very little noteworthy stuff passed at all. In fact, it’s fair to say that the single most important thing that happened this year was a compromise on the testing issue, which we discussed last week after observing a protracted and almost humorous (if it weren’t so serious) game of legislative testing chicken. As I predicted then, the compromise was amended before final passage. The bill currently awaits Governor Hicklenlooper’s signature. But we’ll cover the testing compromise in more depth later this week. For now, let’s talk other highlights. With lists! Because everyone loves lists! Continue Reading »

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May
8th 2015
Colorado, Time to Observe National Charter Schools Week Eddie-Style

Posted under Independence Institute & Journalism & Public Charter Schools & Research & School Choice & School Finance

It’s a little bittersweet writing near the end of National Charter Schools Week, a couple short days after Colorado’s legislative session concluded with very little progress made on behalf of choice and fair funding. (Nor does all the wet, gray, gloomy weather help, either!)

Looking back, though, the week kicked off with a great Watchdog story about how Denver charter schools regularly top the district’s performance ratings. Not earth-shattering news for me or my faithful readers, but definitely a good reminder and an opportunity to spread the word.

Denver isn’t an isolated example. There are good reasons why a new report shows in 10 other major cities that waiting list demand for charters far outstrips the available seats. Come on, can’t we do something about that? After all, there’s the latest major CREDO report that I recently brought your attention to, which shows a continuing positive trend for urban charter school performance. Continue Reading »

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March
19th 2015
NEA: Colorado Falls from 21st to 22nd in Per-Pupil Spending – Sound the Alarms!

Posted under Education Politics & Research & School Finance & Teachers

The bad news? Today is one of those days when little Eddie is going to be a broken record. The good news? This will be brief and to the point.

Go back in your mind all the way to last March, a whole year ago. The National Education Association — the nation’s largest teachers union — released its annual statistical dump known as Rankings & Estimates. The big news? Colorado ranked 21st in per-pupil spending during the 2012-13 school year.

In recent months, this information has provided a great antidote to attempted spooks and various forms of number-fudging. With this year’s new release of Rankings & Estimates, guess where Colorado stands? Continue Reading »

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February
26th 2015
Reading New ETS Report on Millennials Not Likely to Cheer You Up

Posted under Grades and Standards & High School & Innovation and Reform & Research & School Choice & School Finance & State Legislature

A few weeks ago I raised the question: Should I get my hopes up about Colorado course choice again? Today, it seems more appropriate to ask whether I should get my hopes up at all.

Yeah, you might think that sounds kind of depressing. But dare I say you haven’t yet had the chance to drink deep the dose of melancholy that flows through Robert Pondiscio’s new Flypaper post “America’s Millennials: Overeducated and Underprepared.” To his credit, he tries to soften the blow with some lighthearted old sports announcer allusion, but the damage cannot be escaped.

What’s the big downer? Pondiscio points readers like you and me to a new Educational Testing Service (ETS) report America’s Skills Challenge: Millennials and the Future. The bottom line? While American Millennials are on track to reach the highest level of educational attainment EVER, they are less literate and numerate than both prior U.S. generations and to their international peers. There are also apparent implications about growing inequality in skills between the privileged and the less privileged.

Yikes! I feel Pondiscio’s pain. Even though trailing behind the Millennials in vaguely defined Generation Z, my fellow kids and I will reap some of the consequences. So yes, I do care. Continue Reading »

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February
20th 2015
State Board Gets Even Weirder On Testing Issue

Posted under Education Politics & School Board & School Finance & State Board of Education & State Legislature & Testing

Last month, we kicked off the 2015 legislative party together. I promised it would be an exciting year, and that has certainly been the case. But I may have been wrong about where that excitement would be coming from. The legislature has its hands full when it comes to education-related issues, but the real party seems to be at the Colorado State Board of Education.

As faithful readers and education followers know, the Colorado State Board of Education got weird in January by voting (along unexpected lines) to grant districts waivers from the performance-based part of this year’s PARCC exams. Those waivers were slapped down by a recent opinion from Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, but that hasn’t stopped the action at good ol’ SBOE.

For starters, the board voted 5-1 (Chairwoman Marcia Neal was absent due to medical issues) to postpone action on the PARCC waiver requests it has received. Judging from comments made during the meeting, this extension is being granted in the hopes that the legislature will “clarify” the issue. According to Chalkbeat, there are currently 20 district waiver requests pending. PARCC’s Performance-Based Assessment is due to be administered next month, which means the extension causes some interesting timing issues.

Most education folks (including myself) thought the matter was settled with the AG’s opinion, but that apparently isn’t the case. Buckle your seatbelts, friends—stuff’s likely going to get weirder on PARCC waivers before it gets… unweirder. Nope, that’s not a word.

Anyway, because the waiver decision extension wasn’t quite weird enough, rogue SBOE member Steve Durham also pulled out another surprising motion: Eliminate penalties for districts who fail to meet the required 95 percent participation threshold on state assessments due to parental opt outs. Continue Reading »

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