Articles tagged with School funding

New poll finds strong support for local schools and teachers

The latest Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll on public education shows Americans continue to strongly support their public schools, want rigorous teacher evaluations, support Common Core standards, and are divided about the concept of school choice.

By a considerable margin, the poll showed that a lack of funding is viewed as the biggest challenge facing public schools, cited by 35 percent of Americans and 43 percent of public school parents. The survey’s authors noted that only 23 percent of Americans saw funding as a problem in 2002, the same year that 39 percent cited fighting, gang violence, and drugs as the largest issue in public schools. Only 14 percent of Americans cited those factors as problems in 2012.

Half of the Americans polled said they believe Common Core standards will improve the quality of education in their communities (including 46 percent of those identified as Republicans, 60 percent of Democrats, and 43 percent of Independents).

And for the first time in 10 years, support for charter schools dipped slightly, with 66 percent of Americans overall supporting the schools. But 44 percent of Americans approve of vouchers for private schools, a 10 percentage point jump from last year’s all-time low of 34 percent. And 70 percent of Americans favor giving parents of children in failing schools the option of mounting a petition to remove the administrators and teachers.

In a separate poll conducted by Gallup on the No Child Left Behind Act, more Americans said the law and its testing and accountability requirements have made education worse rather than better. Twenty-nine percent said the law has made school worse, 16 said better, and 38 percent said it hasn’t made much of a difference. Gallup’s annual Work and Education Poll, released Aug. 20, has shown similar results in recent years.


Joetta Sack-Min|August 22nd, 2012|Categories: Teachers, Educational Finance, School Vouchers, No Child Left Behind|Tags: , , , |

States faced with ‘interesting times’

Listening to five state association leaders talk Sunday about the challenges they face might have reminded you of that purported Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times.”

Because public schools in California, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Georgia are all living through “interesting” times. Not particularly fun times, to be sure, but definitely interesting.

Two common threads (or is that threats?) marked their presentations for the Third General Session of National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) Federal Relations Network Conference: The difficulties posed by a severe lack of money, and the challenge coming from various — and often united and well-funded — proponents of vouchers, charter schools, and privatization.

“Even if they feel they can’t get their legislation through, it still gives them a platform to attack public education and school board governance,” said Angela Palm, director of policy and legislative services for the Georgia School Boards Association.

The good news, several of the state executives said, is that the state associations and NSBA are not waiting for their opponents to define public education but are actively telling their own stories – to their constitutions, to parents, to legislators – highlighting successes, and setting the record straight.

Studies show that most citizens give their local public school “As” or “Bs” for quality.

“Then why are we having this discussion” about alternatives to public schools? asked Glenn Koocher, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees.

The reason, as Koocher and others explained, is the power and money behind public school critics. In Pennsylvania, for example, three different groups have come together to argue for more school choice: those who sincerely believe charters and other choice options will improve schools: those who are invested in attacking public education; and businesses that see public education as “a cash cow” said Thomas Gentzel, that state’s executive director. He said that, in forming your strategies and talking points, it helps to know which group you’re addressing.

One of the more convoluted – and long running – budget crises is occurring in California, leading Vernon Billy, executive director of the California School Boards Avocation, to close his presentation with this tongue-in-cheek advice: If someone starts a conversation with “’Well, you know, in California’….run.”

Currently, the state is planning to cut the education budget, but it is still asking districts to fund programs as if they had as much money as last fiscal year, Billy said. This has been convenient for the state and unions and other interest groups with which it has been negotiating, but it places all the fiscal responsibility on districts, which must either plow into their reserve funds or borrow money to stay afloat.

Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed a state referendum on increasing taxes, but if it does not pass, Billy said, the state is looking at more cuts of as much as $5 billion. Still, school districts are being told to spend as if they had as much money as last year; and, meanwhile, in an effort to preserve state funds, the state is deferring scheduled payments to schools.
“We still have our electric lights to pay for. We still have our employees to pay,” Billy said. “We still have our health and welfare costs rising. Those things are not changing.”

Ken DeLay, executive director of the Colorado School Boards Association, gave a more positive report on developments in his state. As a result of hard work and continued dialogue, the legislature was able to pass new teacher evaluation rules that for the first time would provide a mechanism for districts to fire low-performing but tenured teaches without having to spend thousands of dollars in litigation costs.

Lawrence Hardy|February 5th, 2012|Categories: Teachers, Educational Finance, FRN Conference 2012|Tags: , , , , , |

Hey brother can you spare $100 million?

There’s been a lot of talk about the nation’s sudden affliction of “bailout hangover” now that Congress has approved the $700 billion financial industry takeover and an emergency loan package to automakers looks like a done deal.

So with everyone asking “what about me?” these days, why shouldn’t school districts ask for a share of the pot? After all, the nation’s future economic outlook largely hinges on a well-educated population.

Turns out, that’s what some had in mind.

On Tuesday Broward County became the second school system, and the largest, to formally ask for a share of the pot when its school board voted to petition the government for an unspecified amount of bailout funds. In suburban Cleveland, Olmstead Falls superintendent Todd Hoadley made national news last week when he called on Congress to provide $100 million to help his fast-growing district pay for school construction projects and unfunded federal mandates.

Just a few weeks after taking his job, Miami-Dade superintendent Alberto Carvalho says it’s time for the federal government to bail out schools. While its local economy is quite different than the Rust Belt, Florida is also hurting from the economic slowdown, as evidenced by its glut of home foreclosures.

“The most commonly heard solution out of Washington these days is a bailout where the federal government intervenes to safeguard key industries and in the process, the quality of American life,” Carvalho said. “If that’s the rationale, than I cannot think of a more strategic investment than safeguarding the quality of public education.”


Naomi Dillon|December 10th, 2008|Categories: Governance, Budgeting, American School Board Journal|Tags: , |
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