High-Poverty Schools

  • Rich school districts will benefit more than poor ones from Washington’s budget, new analysis suggests, By Neal Morton, October 31, 2017, Seattle Times: “In the days after the Washington Legislature approved a new state budget in June, school-finance experts began reading the fine print. They soon started warning that while lawmakers may have increased state spending on schools, some richer districts would get a bigger boost than many poorer ones…”
  • Report: Virginia’s high-poverty schools don’t have same opportunities for students, By Justin Mattingly, October 30, 2017, Richmond Times-Dispatch: “There are ‘striking deficiencies’ in educational opportunities for students in high-poverty Virginia schools, a new report has found. Students in high-poverty schools, or schools where at least 75 percent receive free and reduced-price lunch, have less access to core subjects like math and science, lower levels of state and local funding for instructors, who are less experienced in these schools, according to a report from The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis, a research organization based in Richmond that focuses on economics and policy…”

Achievement Gap

  • Where poor students are top of the class, By Lauren Camera, June 20, 2017, US News: “Children in schools dotting the districts along the Rio Grande River in Texas are overwhelmingly poor and Hispanic, and many of them are still learning English – all indicators associated with low academic achievement. But in a handful of cities there, students are bucking that assumption by performing just as well, and in some cases better, than their wealthier peers…”
  • Is California’s investment in needy students paying off? Few signs indicate achievement gap is closing, By Jessica Calefati, June 22, 2017, KQED: “California’s new system for funding public education has pumped tens of billions of extra dollars into struggling schools, but there’s little evidence yet that the investment is helping the most disadvantaged students. A CALmatters analysis of the biggest districts with the greatest clusters of needy children found limited success with the policy’s goal: to close the achievement gap between these students and their more privileged peers. Instead, results in most of those places show the gap is growing…”

School Funding – Connecticut

In Connecticut, a wealth gap divides neighboring schools, By Elizabeth A. Harris and Kristin Hussey, September 11, 2016, New York Times: “The two Connecticut school districts sit side by side along Long Island Sound. Both spend more than the national average on their students. They prepare their pupils for the same statewide tests. Their teachers, like virtually all the teachers in the state, earn the same high marks on evaluations.  That is where the similarities end: In Fairfield, a mostly white suburb where the median income is $120,000, 94 percent of students graduate from high school on time. In Bridgeport, the state’s most populous and one of its poorest cities, the graduation rate is 63 percent. Fifth graders in Bridgeport, where most people are black or Hispanic, often read at kindergarten level, one of their teachers recently testified during a trial over school funding inequities…”

School Funding

Why America’s schools have a money problem, April 18, 2016, National Public Radio: “Let’s begin with a choice. Say there’s a check in the mail. It’s meant to help you run your household. You can use it to keep the lights on, the water running and food on the table. Would you rather that check be for $9,794 or $28,639?  It’s not a trick question. It’s the story of America’s schools in two numbers. That $9,794 is how much money the Chicago Ridge School District in Illinois spent per child in 2013 (the number has been adjusted by Education Week to account for regional cost differences). It’s well below that year’s national average of $11,841…”

State funding for K-12 Education

Report: Most states providing less K-12 funding than before Great Recession, By Valerie Strauss, December 13, 2015, Washington Post: “A new report on public school funding across the country finds that most states are now providing less support per K-12 student than before the 2007-2009 Great Recession — and that some states continue to cut funding…”

States and School Funding

  • Few states set aside more funds high-poverty schools, report says, By Renee Schoof, June 8, 2015, Lexington Herald-Leader: “Most states don’t provide extra funding for high-poverty schools, according to a new report about how public schools are funded. The report, issued Monday, also found that only a handful of states that cut money for education during the recession have increased it again during the economic recovery. The analysis was by researchers at Rutgers University and the Education Law Center, a nonprofit group that advocates for equal opportunity in education…”
  • Inequitable school funding called ‘one of the sleeper civil rights issues of our time’, By Emma Brown, June 8, 2015, Washington Post: “Funding for public education in most states is inadequate and inequitable, creating a huge obstacle for the nation’s growing number of poor children as they try to overcome their circumstances, according to a set of reports released Monday by civil rights groups. Students in the nation’s highest-spending state (New York) receive about $12,000 more each year than students in the lowest-spending state (Idaho), according to the reports, and in most states school districts in wealthy areas spend as much or more per pupil than districts with high concentrations of poverty…”

School Funding – Connecticut

In suburban schools, student poverty growing faster than education aid, By Jacqueline Rabe Thomas, May 4, 2015, Hartford Courant: “The number of students from poor families attending suburban schools in Connecticut is increasing.  Numerous legislators say these increases justify providing $14.2 million in additional state aid over the next two fiscal years to help several suburban districts cover the cost of educating these high-need students…”

School Funding

In 23 states, richer school districts get more local funding than poorer districts, By Emma Brown, March 12, 2015, Washington Post: “Children who live in poverty come to school at a disadvantage, arriving at their classrooms with far more intensive needs than their middle-class and affluent counterparts. Poor children also lag their peers, on average, on almost every measure of academic achievement.  But in 23 states, state and local governments are together spending less per pupil in the poorest school districts than they are in the most affluent school districts, according to federal data from fiscal year 2012, the most recent figures available…”

School Voucher Programs – Wisconsin

Wisconsin voucher programs march toward 30,000 student threshold, By Erin Richards, December 8, 2014, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “The total number of students receiving private-school tuition vouchers in Wisconsin is about to cross the 30,000 threshold. The three voucher programs in Milwaukee, Racine and statewide enroll 29,683 students, according to results of the official state headcount in September. That makes Wisconsin a leading state when it comes to the number of students attending private, mostly religious schools with the help of taxpayer-funded tuition subsidies…”

Funding for Low-Income Students – California

California schools fear losing millions for low-income students, By Teresa Watanabe, December 9, 2013, Los Angeles Times: “Major California school districts fear they will be shortchanged millions of dollars in funding for their low-income students under new state rules requiring them to verify family incomes every year. Officials in Los Angeles, San Diego, Fresno and elsewhere are scrambling to collect verification forms but said that hundreds of families have not yet turned them in — potentially jeopardizing funding that school districts are counting on this year. At stake, for instance, is $200 million in L.A. Unified and $6 million in San Diego. The districts are urging the state to guarantee them all funding due this year, based on last year’s count of low-income students, whether the new forms are turned in or not…”

Free Lunch Program and School Funding – Indiana

State won’t use free lunch program as poverty indicator, By Maureen Hayden, May 24, 2013, News and Tribune: “Indiana is changing the way it counts low-income students in public schools because Republican legislators suspect fraud in the federal school-lunch program used to measure poverty. Tucked inside the budget bill passed by the General Assembly last month is a provision that ends the use of the program to determine levels of poverty-based funding for school districts after next year. Instead, the state’s textbook assistance program, which provides free schoolbooks to low-income children, will be used to calculate how much additional money the state gives schools to help educate children most at-risk for failure…”

Charter Schools – Washington, DC

D.C. debates growth of charter schools, By Emma Brown, February 10, 2013, Washington Post: “It’s the latest sign that the District is on track to become a city where a majority of children are educated not in traditional public schools but in public charters: A California nonprofit group has proposed opening eight D.C. charter schools that would enroll more than 5,000 students by 2019. The proposal has stirred excitement among those who believe that Rocketship Education, which combines online learning and face-to-face instruction, can radically raise student achievement in some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods…”

School Voucher Program – Indiana

Indiana public schools wage ad campaign to persuade families not to flee to private classrooms, Associated Press, August 20, 2012, Washington Post: “Struggling Indiana public school districts are buying billboard space, airing radio ads and even sending principals door-to-door in an unusual marketing campaign aimed at persuading parents not to move their children to private schools as the nation’s largest voucher program doubles in size. The promotional efforts are an attempt to prevent the kind of student exodus that administrators have long feared might result from allowing students to attend private school using public money. If a large number of families abandon local districts, millions of dollars could be drained from the state’s public education system…”

Race to the Top Competition

Government opens competition for grants to poorest school districts, By Josh Lederman (AP), Seattle Times: “Hoping to build on state-level reforms aimed at closing the education achievement gap, the Education Department opened its Race to the Top competition to school districts on Sunday, inviting the poorest districts across the country to vie for almost $400 million in grants. Following four months of public comment on a draft proposal, the Education Department unveiled its final criteria for the district-level competition, which will award 15 to 25 grants to districts that have at least 2,000 students and 40 percent or more who qualify for free or reduced-cost lunches – a key poverty indicator…”

Education Funding – Florida

Restored education funds fail to make up for earlier cutbacks, By Ben Wieder, March 5, 2012, Stateline.org: “A walk through Northwood Elementary School in this small city shows almost at a glance the privations that tight Florida budget years have imposed on K-12 education. There is an up-to-date science lab at Northwood waiting for customers, but there is no science specialist competent to take advantage of it. So it remains empty for much of the day. ‘If funding were available, we’d have a hands-on science teacher,’ says Principal Jacqueline Craig. ‘We have the facility, but unless the teachers bring their students over here, there’s no one to teach in this classroom.’ Science teacher isn’t the only position Craig has been unable to fill. ‘We had a media specialist,’ she says, ‘then we had a media assistant. Now we have nothing.’ Declining property taxes contributed to a $1.3 billion statewide cut to education last year, Republican Governor Rick Scott’s first year in office. Now Scott wants to put money back into education. He made headlines in December when he announced that he would reverse course and make increased education funding a priority in his second year…”

High-Poverty Schools and School Funding – Florida

Many high-poverty schools ‘shortchanged’ in Central Florida, By Lauren Roth, January 12, 2012, Orlando Sentinel: “At Hiawassee Elementary in Orange County, where nine out of every 10 students lives in poverty, the school district spent about $2,065 per student on teachers and other staff during the 2008-09 school year. By contrast, the county’s Lake Whitney Elementary, where only about 10 percent of the students are poor, spent about $2,710 on staffing per student that year – nearly a third more. Across Central Florida, school districts spend less per pupil to staff many of their highest-poverty schools despite federal rules intended to make sure every poor school gets its fair share, according to an Orlando Sentinel analysis of federal data…”

Charter Schools

  • How some states rein in charter school abuses, By Kathleen McGrory and Scott Hiaasen, December 10, 2011, Miami Herald: “Florida’s charter school law, which makes it easy to open charter schools and difficult to monitor them, has spurred a multimillion dollar industry and a school boom – all while leading to chronic governance problems and a higher-than-average rate of school failure. Nationally, about 12 percent of all charter schools that have opened in the past two decades have shut down, according to the National Resource Center on Charter School Finance & Governance. In Florida, the failure rate is double, state records show…”
  • Florida charter schools: big money, little oversight, By Scott Hiaasen and Kathleen McGrory, December 10, 2011, Miami Herald: “Preparing for her daughter’s graduation in the spring, Tuli Chediak received a blunt message from her daughter’s charter high school: Pay us $600 or your daughter won’t graduate. She also received a harsh lesson about charter schools: Sometimes they play by their own rules. During the past 15 years, Florida has embarked on a dramatic shift in public education, steering billions in taxpayer dollars from traditional school districts to independently run charter schools. What started as an educational movement has turned into one of the region’s fastest-growing industries, backed by real-estate developers and promoted by politicians. But while charter schools have grown into a $400-million-a-year business in South Florida, receiving about $6,000 in taxpayer dollars for every student enrolled, they continue to operate with little public oversight. Even when charter schools have been caught violating state laws, school districts have few tools to demand compliance…”
  • Profits and questions at online charter schools, By Stephanie Saul, December 12, 2011, New York Times: “By almost every educational measure, the Agora Cyber Charter School is failing. Nearly 60 percent of its students are behind grade level in math. Nearly 50 percent trail in reading. A third do not graduate on time. And hundreds of children, from kindergartners to seniors, withdraw within months after they enroll. By Wall Street standards, though, Agora is a remarkable success that has helped enrich K12 Inc., the publicly traded company that manages the school. And the entire enterprise is paid for by taxpayers. Agora is one of the largest in a portfolio of similar public schools across the country run by K12. Eight other for-profit companies also run online public elementary and high schools, enrolling a large chunk of the more than 200,000 full-time cyberpupils in the United States…”
  • New Mexico legislators look to curb charter school costs, By Ben Wieder, December 12, 2011, Stateline.org: “One of Albuquerque’s charter schools, Academia de Lengua Y Cultura, offers a dual-language middle-school curriculum, with teachers in some classes giving lessons in English and Spanish on alternating days. Across town, the Cottonwood Classical Preparatory School, which takes students from sixth grade through high school, emphasizes seminar discussions and offers advanced international diplomas. The Southwest Secondary Learning Center, meanwhile, reinforces math, science and engineering lessons by allowing students to maintain and fly real airplanes. They represent three of New Mexico’s more than 80 charter schools. While some of those schools look and act like private institutions – their leaders have freedom to run them as they see fit as long as students meet state standards – they are part of the public school system, charge no tuition and receive nearly all of their funding from state monies. But unlike other states, where average per-student funding for charters is typically lower than it is for other public schools, a legislative report released last month found that charters in New Mexico receive an average of 26 percent more funding per student than traditional public schools. The report suggested that lawmakers change how schools are funded to address that…”
  • Number of charter school students soars to 2 million as states pass laws encouraging expansion, Associated Press, December 7, 2011, Washington Post: “The number of students attending charter schools has soared to more than 2 million as states pass laws lifting caps and encouraging their expansion, according to figures released Wednesday. The growth represents the largest increase in enrollment over a single year since charter schools were founded nearly two decades ago. In all, more than 500 new charter schools were opened in the 2011-12 school year. And about 200,000 more students are enrolled now than a year before, an increase of 13 percent nationwide…”
  • More whites drawn to charter schools, By Jennifer Smith Richards, December 12, 2011, Columbus Dispatch: “Charter schools statewide and in Franklin County have become much more racially diverse over the past decade, state enrollment data show. In the 2000-01 school year, when charters still were new in Ohio, 87 percent of the 748 Franklin County charter students were members of minorities. In the 2010-11 school year, roughly 33,000 students attended local charters, and 63 percent were nonwhite. The local shift mirrors one statewide, where the total percentage of black, Latino, Asian, American Indian and multiracial students has dropped from 86 percent to about 60 percent in the past 10 years. The reason for the shift, experts say, is twofold: Parents now have more charter schools from which to choose, which makes the option attractive to a wider range of parents. And many schools now are marketing to suburban families instead of focusing on students from urban districts such as Columbus…”

Census Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates

  • Rising child poverty rates could be a ‘taste’ of what’s ahead, By Ron Scherer, November 29, 2011, Christian Science Monitor: “In a troubling snapshot of the declining finances of Americans, considerably more school-age children are living in poverty than in the pre-recession year of 2007, the US Census Bureau reported Tuesday. Of all 3,142 counties in the US, 653 counties saw significant increases in poverty for children ages 5 to 17, according to the 2010 Census Bureau survey. Only eight counties saw a decrease. Nationally, 19.8 percent of schoolchildren qualify as poor – and one-third of all counties now have child poverty rates above that threshold. About one quarter had child poverty rates significantly lower than the national average…”
  • More schoolchildren in Central Texas living in poverty, By Juan Castillo, November 29, 2011, Austin American-Statesman: “About 1 in 4 school-age children in Travis, Bastrop and Caldwell counties lived in poverty in 2010 – higher than the national average – and the poverty rate for schoolchildren has risen since the recession began in 4 of 5 counties in the Austin metro area, according to census estimates Tuesday reflecting the effects of the weakened economy…”
  • Wisconsin schools see more children in poverty, By Erin Richards and Ben Poston, November 30, 2011, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “More than four out of 10 school-aged children in Milwaukee are living in poverty, a jump of nearly 10 percentage points from 2007, according to new estimates released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau that underscore another effect of the Great Recession. The percentage of children in poverty residing in the Milwaukee Public Schools district rose to 41% in 2010 from 32.4% in pre-recession 2007, according to the bureau’s 2010 income and poverty estimates for all counties and school districts…”
  • Alabama struggles with number of children living in poverty at 27.4%, By Kim Chandler, November 30, 2011, Birmingham News: “More than one in four Alabama children live in poverty — a figure that has jumped since the recession began in 2007, the U.S. Census Bureau said Tuesday. In 2010, 27.4 percent of children age 18 and under in Alabama lived in poverty. The percentage was 23.6 percent in 2007…”
  • Poverty rate soars among S. Florida kids, By Donna Gehrke-White, Dana Williams and Cara Fitzpatrick, November 30, 2011, South Florida Sun-Sentinel: “The poverty rate for school-age children skyrocketed in South Florida from 2007 to 2010 with thousands of parents thrown out of work during the Great Recession. In Broward and Palm Beach counties, about one in five children ages 5 to 17 live in poverty, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday. In Miami-Dade, nearly one in four children fall below the poverty level. The huge increase in poverty among school-aged children places the three South Florida counties in the nation’s top 20 percent of counties experiencing the steepest jump in child poverty, according to the Census Bureau data…”
  • Fresno County has state’s highest poverty rate, By Kurtis Alexander, November 29, 2011, Fresno Bee: “Soaring unemployment has pushed California’s poverty rate up for three straight years — but nowhere higher than in Fresno County, according to new Census data. The nearly 250,000 county residents living in poverty in 2010 gives Fresno County claim to the state’s highest poverty rate, at 26.8%. Almost 70,000 more people lived in poverty last year than in 2007 when the recession began. Statewide, 15.8% were impoverished, the census data show, up 3.4 percentage points from three years ago…”
  • Poverty rates varied greatly among Oklahoma counties in 2010, By Chris Casteel, November 30, 2011, The Oklahoman: “Poverty rates jumped in some of the poorest and richest counties in Oklahoma in 2010, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures released Tuesday that show Okfuskee County had the highest rate last year, with 27 percent of its residents in poverty…”

States and No Child Left Behind Waivers

After-school tutoring likely to end as dozens of states pursue No Child Left Behind waivers, Associated Press, October 30, 2011, Washington Post: “Dozens of states intend to apply for waivers that would free their schools from a federal requirement that they set aside hundreds of millions of dollars a year for after-school tutoring, a program many researchers say has been ineffective. The 2002 No Child Left Behind law requires school districts that repeatedly fail to meet its benchmarks to set aside federal money to pay for outside tutors. But studies released in the past five years have found mixed results, at best, from the program. They say it has suffered from participation rates as low as 20 percent, uneven quality among tutors, a lack of coordination between tutors and teachers, poor oversight by the states and a prohibition against giving the lowest achieving students priority. Also, they say, there has been no connection between students’ success and tutors’ paychecks…”