Spending in California classrooms declined as a percentage of total education spending over a recent five-year period, even as total school funding increased, according to a Pepperdine University study released Wednesday.
More of the funding increase went to administrators, clerks and technical staff and less to teachers, textbooks, materials and teacher aides, the study found. It was partially funded by a California Chamber of Commerce foundation.
Total K-12 spending increased by $10 billion over the five-year period ending June 30, 2009, from $45.6 billion to $55.6 billion statewide. It rose at a rate greater than the increase in inflation or personal income, according to the study. Yet researchers found that classroom spending dipped from 59 percent of education funding to 57.8 percent over the five years.
Spending on teacher salaries and benefits dropped from 50 percent of statewide spending to 48 percent over the same period. Spending on administrators and supervisors, staff travel and conferences all increased faster than teachers’ pay.
Complete study: 1.1MB PDF.
This is not a big surprise, given the increasing emphasis on, ironically, in the K-12 world, adult to adult spending, often referred to as “Professional Development“. Yippy Search: “Professional Development“.
The report mentions that California’s average per student expenditure is just under $10,000 annually. Madison’s 2009/2010 per student spending was $15,241 ($370,287,471 budget / 24,295 students).
Sheila Byrd Carmichael, Gabrielle Martino, Kathleen Porter-Magee, W. Stephen Wilson:
he K-12 academic standards in English language arts (ELA) and math produced last month by the Common Core State Standards Initiative are clearer and more rigorous than today’s ELA standards in 37 states and today’s math standards in 39 states, according to the Fordham Institute’s newest study. In 33 of those states, the Common Core bests both ELA and math standards. Yet California, Indiana and the District of Columbia have ELA standards that are clearly superior to those of the Common Core. And nearly a dozen states have ELA or math standards in the same league as Common Core. Read on to find out more and see how your state fared.
Wisconsin’s standards (WKCE) have often been criticized. This year’s study grants the Badger State a “D” in Language Arts and an “F” in Math.
Increased housing commitments swelled U.S. taxpayers’ total support for the financial system by $700 billion in the past year to around $3.7 trillion, a government watchdog said on Wednesday.
The Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program said the increase was due largely to the government’s pledges to supply capital to Fannie Mae (FNMA.OB) and Freddie Mac (FMCC.OB) and to guarantee more mortgages to the support the housing market.
Increased guarantees for loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration, the Government National Mortgage Association and the Veterans administration increased the government’s commitments by $512.4 billion alone in the year to June 30, according to the report.
The Wisconsin Budget Project (“An Initiative of the Wisconsin Council on Children & Families“).
The Wisconsin Budget Project is a WCCF initiative engaged in analysis and education on the state budget and tax issues, particularly those relating to low and moderate income families. The budget project seeks to broaden the debate on budget and tax policy through public education and the encouragement of civic engagement on these issues.
Quick Facts about the Wisconsin Budget:
- Based on the most recent national data (from 2007), Wisconsin ranked 29th in total state and local spending (measured as a percentage of income).
- Contrary to the perception that our state has a large government bureaucracy, Wisconsin ranked 44th (7th lowest) in 2008 in the number of state employees relative to population, and 41st (10th lowest) in total state and local government employees relative to population.
Clusty Search: Wisconsin Budget Project & WISTAX (Wisconsin Taxpayer’s Alliance).
Setting a great example for our political class, British Prime Minister David Cameron flew commercial on a recent trip to the United States. Congressional use of military jets continues to be controversial (to his credit, US Senator Russ Feingold can often be seen flying commercial).
Avi Arditti & Bob Doughty:
Americans have never had national education standards. Goals for what public schools should teach are set by state and local school boards. Their members are often elected.
But some Americans say the lack of national standards is wrong in a competitive global economy. Former president Bill Clinton said it was as if somehow school boards “could legislate differences in algebra or math or reading.”
President George W. Bush and Congress expanded federal intervention. His education law, still in effect, required states to show yearly progress in student learning as measured by the states’ own tests.
Gifted and Talented Education is a broad term for special practices used in the education of children who have been identified as intellectually gifted. There is no common definition for exactly what that means. GATE supporters argue that the regular curriculum fails to meet their special needs. Therefore, these students must have modifications that will enable them to develop their full potential.
In Virginia, each school division establishes procedures for the identification of gifted students and for the delivery of services to those students. GATE funding comes from the state with a local match. Consequently, there is some variation between school divisions in the strength of their GATE programs.
Each Virginia school division must develop a GATE plan. The larger school systems often have separate GATE teachers and classrooms. Others use the regular classroom teacher (often specially trained) to practice what is called differentiation within the classroom.
Differentiation is not providing the GATE student with an extra worksheet. It might be more like, for example, having the GATE students write a novella while the other students are writing a short report. The GATE students may also work together in small groups to solve teacher-generated problems related to the curriculum the whole class is working on…..
But GATE has long struggled with an educational system that has been much more focused on the children struggling to reach a certain level of proficiency. This became more pronounced with the advent of SOL tests and No Child Left Behind. GATE also suffers from charges that it is elitist and focuses on economically advantaged and non-minority children. Any time children and academic labels come together, it can make for a highly-charged environment.
There is no doubt that some children’s academic skills put them in a very different category from the majority of students. And who could argue with the concept that public education should try to provide specialized programs to meet each student’s specific needs. I think advocates of gifted education would get more public support if they used different terminology. Special education is defined by the type of curriculum not the intellectual capabilities of the students. The identification process can be arbitrary in defining who is “gifted” and who is not. And everyone has the capability to be talented at something….
Tuition inflation has always been a subject that has fascinated me. How can our political system stand idly by as our public universities increase tuition at double the rate of inflation? How could a trend that is so harmful to the middle-class (I’m not even talking working class — nobody cares about them) stand stronger against the will of the people than even the most powerful Wall Street banks?
What is more fascinating is that nobody seems to have a definitive explanation for why students have to pay more and more every year. Liberals blame declining state support, while conservatives tend to place the blame on wasteful administration and high professor salaries.
All of these points inevitably show up in every discussion of the issue, in addition to an unavoidable observation about campus life these days: It’s a lot nicer.
Craver makes an excellent point. It seems that higher education is spending more and more on expensive student facilities. One might refer to it as an “arms race” for student dollars.
New York State education officials acknowledged on Monday that their standardized exams had become easier to pass over the last four years and said they would recalibrate the scoring for tests taken this spring, which is almost certain to mean thousands more students will fail.
While scores spiked significantly across the state at every grade level, there were no similar gains on other measurements, including national exams, they said.
“The only possible conclusion is that something strange has happened to our test,” David M. Steiner, the education commissioner, said during a Board of Regents meeting in Albany. “The word ‘proficient’ should tell you something, and right now that is not the case on our state tests.”
Wisconsin’s WKCE has been criticized for its lack of rigor, as well.
I know that I’m inviting trouble with this, but something that Reader wrote in a comment on another thread piqued my interest. I would like to discuss only a narrow question. Please don’t expand the discussion.
Writing about Everyday Math and Singapore, Reader wrote: “The fact is, the newer curricula stress more problem solving and discovery. That is, it’s doing more than a lot of older curricula.”
Here’s my question: can problem-solving be taught?
I mean this in the nicest possible way and I don’t have an answer myself. I’m not sure, I’m asking. Can people be taught or trained in problem-solving techniques or is it a talent that some people just natively have more than others? Problem solving requires a certain amount of creativity, doesn’t it? It can require a flexibility of perspective, curiosity, persistence, and pattern recognition. Can these things be taught or trained?
Related: Math Forum audio/video links.
Patricia Wasley and Stephanie Hirsch:
BUDGETS across the state and nation are being slashed, forcing education leaders to confront economic shortfalls unseen in recent memory and make do with less.
One area especially hard hit by the cuts is professional development — the process by which we ensure our educators are well equipped to meet constantly evolving demands of helping students succeed. Often overlooked, high-quality professional learning is indispensable in generating the outcomes — like better test scores and higher graduation rates — that should be expected of our schools.
Absent high-quality professional learning and support for professional growth, the ability of teachers to meet new challenges becomes compromised and their practices habitual. This makes it more difficult to achieve higher outcomes and is not what we want for our teachers or students.
There has been an increasing emphasis on “adult to adult” expenditures within our public schools, as Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman noted last summer.
Christine Armario, Terence Chea:
Students graduating from high school this spring may be collecting their diplomas just in time, leaving institutions that are being badly weakened by the nation’s economic downturn.
Across the country, mass layoffs of teachers, counselors and other staff members — caused in part by the drying up of federal stimulus dollars — are leading to larger classes and reductions in everything that is not a core subject, including music, art, clubs, sports and other after-school activities.
Educators and others worry the cuts could lead to higher dropout rates and lower college attendance as students receive less guidance and become less engaged in school. They fear a generation of young people could be left behind.
It’s been two years since Bill Gates left his day-to-day role at Microsoft (MSFT) to concentrate on supervising the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation–and his new enterprise is booming. Headquartered in a converted check-processing center in Seattle’s Eastlake neighborhood, the 10-year-old foundation plans to move into a 900,000-square-foot campus and visitors’ center near the city’s Space Needle next spring. The Gates Foundation opened a London office this year; it also has offices in Washington, Delhi, and Beijing, and 830 employees around the world, up from about 500 in 2008. With assets of $33.9 billion as of Dec. 31, 2009, and America’s two richest people–Gates and Warren Buffett–as trustees, the foundation plans to spend $3 billion in the next five to seven years on education. If there’s such a thing as a charity behemoth, the Gates Foundation is it.
While its efforts in global health are widely applauded, its record in America’s schools has been more controversial. Starting in 2000, the Gates Foundation spent hundreds of millions of dollars on its first big project, trying to revitalize U.S. high schools by making them smaller, only to discover that student body size has little effect on achievement.
Related: Small Learning Communities and English 10.
School may be out for the summer, but the topic of education reform has certainly not gone on vacation. Both nationwide and right here at home there are several different ideas on the table that, if implemented, could go a long way tdsoward improving educational outcomes for our students.
Under the guidance of Governor Tommy Thompson, Wisconsin was once a nationwide leader in educational innovation. Unfortunately, bold, reform-minded leadership has been absent from the Governor’s office for the last eight years. The most recent failures of Governor Jim Doyle and legislative Democrats were their unsuccessful efforts to grab federal Race to the Top dollars and their blundering attempt at a mayoral takeover of the Milwaukee Public Schools.
Usually we look to our nation’s capital for examples of how not to do business, but the new collective bargaining agreement Washington D.C. School Chancellor Michelle Rhee struck with her teachers’ union is just the sort of thing we need here in Milwaukee. The contract includes teacher pay for performance, lessens the weight of seniority if layoffs become necessary and ends “job for life” tenure for ineffective teachers.
Another reform MPS sorely needs is the elimination of the teacher residency requirement, a completely arbitrary barrier that discourages quality educators from teaching at MPS. Only two of the nation’s fifty largest school systems, Milwaukee and Chicago, still require its teachers to live within the city limits. No other school district in Wisconsin has a residency requirement.
As always, there will be some who maintain the cure for all that ails K-12 public education is just to keep throwing more money at it. There are some holes in that logic. First, one need look no further than MPS for an example of high spending and low results. Second, aid to public schools is already the biggest chunk of the state budget by far and spending per pupil is over $11,000. Even if simply putting a lot more money into the system were the answer, the state doesn’t have it and taxpayers are already stretched to the limit.
Clusty search: Alberta Darling.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie proposed salary caps on public school superintendents to help rein in the highest property taxes in the U.S., a move he said may slice pay for 70 percent of the top district administrators.
Christie, 47, announced the limit today as part of a package to control rising real estate tax bills. The proposal would cut salaries for 366 school superintendents when their current contracts expire, the governor’s office said in a statement.
More than 50 school administrators had base salaries of $200,000 or more last year, the state Education Department reported last month. The governor’s salary is $175,000.
Notes and links via New Jersey Left Behind and the Associated Press.
Jessica Shepherd and Jeevan Vasagar:
The government signalled the biggest shakeup of Britain’s universities in a generation today, with a blueprint for higher education in which the highest-earning graduates would pay extra taxes to fund degrees, private universities would flourish and struggling institutions would be allowed to fail.
Vince Cable, the cabinet minister responsible for higher education, also raised the prospect of quotas to ensure state school pupils were guaranteed places at Britain’s best universities, breaking the private school stranglehold on Oxbridge.
Comparing the existing system of tuition fees to a “poll tax” that graduates paid regardless of their income, the skills secretary argued it was fairer for people to pay according to their earning power.
He said: “It surely can’t be right that a teacher or care worker or research scientist is expected to pay the same graduate contribution as a top commercial lawyer or surgeon or City analyst whose graduate premium is so much bigger.”
JOEL I. KLEIN, MICHAEL LOMAX AND JANET MURGUÍA:
In the days following his inauguration, President Obama included a package of educational reforms in his stimulus bill that offered states financial incentives to make dramatic improvements in their education systems. About 10% of the $100 billion allocated for education was used to create competitive grants. States could only win them by drafting comprehensive and aggressive plans to, for example, adopt higher academic standards, turn around chronically low-performing schools, and redesign teacher evaluation and compensation systems.
Although it has received much less attention than health care and financial regulatory reform, this measure may ultimately be one of Mr. Obama’s most profound and lasting achievements. In just one year, we’ve already seen more reforms proposed and enacted around the country than in the preceding decade.
Yet on July 1, with little warning, the House of Representatives watered down these reform efforts by approving an amendment to the emergency supplemental appropriations bill, proposed by Rep. David Obey (D., Wis.). It takes away $800 million that has already been committed to three critical parts of the president’s education reform package–Race to the Top, the Teacher Incentive Fund, and the Charter Schools Program. This breaks a promise to the states, districts and schools that are doing the most important work in America. The funds are to be redirected to a $10 billion “Edujobs” bill to prevent teacher layoffs.
Los Angeles Times:
In many third-grade classrooms in California, students are taught — briefly — about obtuse and acute angles. They have no way to comprehend this lesson fully. Their math training so far hasn’t taught them the concepts involved. They haven’t learned what a degree is or that a circle has 360 of them. They haven’t learned division, so they can’t divide 360 by 4 to determine that a right angle is 90 degrees, and thus understand that an acute angle is less than 90 degrees and an obtuse angle more.
It makes no pedagogical sense, but California’s academic standards call for third-graders to at least be exposed to the subject, and because angles might be on the standardized state test at the end of the year, exposed they are.
Now, that might change. In June, a yearlong joint initiative by 48 states produced a set of uniform but voluntary educational standards in English and math. Urged on by the Obama administration, the initiative’s main purpose was to encourage states with low academic standards to bring their expectations into line with those of other states. Twenty states have already adopted the standards; 28 more, including California, are considering them. Texas and Alaska are the only states that declined to participate in the project.
Clusty Search: Common Core Standards.
Kate Simpson is a full-time English professor at the Middletown, Va., campus of Lord Fairfax Community College. She saw my column about Prince George’s County history teacher Doris Burton lamenting the decline of research skills in high school, as changing state and local course requirements and grading difficulties made required long essays a thing of the past.
So Simpson gave her freshman English students a writing assignment.
Simpson noted my complaint that few American high-schoolers, except those in International Baccalaureate programs, were ever asked to do a research project as long as 4,000 words. Was I right or wrong? Did her students feel prepared for college writing? The timing was good because her classes had just finished a three-week research writing project in which they had to cite sources, do outlines, write and revise drafts.
She said she discovered that 40 percent of her 115 students thought that their high schools had not prepared them for college-level writing. Only 23 percent thought they had those writing skills. Other responses were mixed.
Will Fitzhugh has been discussing this issue for decades….
Jenna Johnson & Daniel de Vise:
In his three years as president of George Washington University, Steven Knapp has tried nearly everything to bond with undergraduates.
He moved onto campus, right across the street from a freshman dorm known for its party culture. He hired a graduate student to tell him which events to attend. He helped students haul their stuff into the dorms, created a Facebook account, danced at parties, judged a pie-eating contest and drummed with a basketball player.
Still, many students thought he was boring and out of touch.
Paul Hill & Marguerite Roza, via a Deb Britt email:
Public schools in most areas of the U.S. are caught in the vise of declining revenues and rising costs.
Policymakers talk about innovating to do more with less, but to date no one knows what that looks like in education. The truth is that dramatically more productive schooling models simply have not emerged in the last two decades, even amidst cost pressures that drove spending up faster than inflation or GDP.
While education differs in important ways from other service sectors, improvement in productivity in other economic sectors may hold important lessons for understanding how the education system can become more efficient and effective.
This paper first explores the past and future outlook for education absent productivity gains. The authors then discuss several areas in which labor-intensive businesses have improved productivity: information technology, deregulation, redefinition of the product, increased efficiency in the supply chain, investments by key beneficiaries, production process innovations, carefully defined workforce policies, and organizational change. They conclude with a five-step agenda for finding the cure for Baumol’s* disease in public education.
*In the 1960s, economist William Baumol observed that productivity (defined as the quantity of product per dollar expended) in the labor-intensive services sector lagged behind manufacturing. Because labor-intensive services must compete with other parts of the economy for workers, yet cannot cut staffing without reducing output, costs rise constantly. This phenomenon, of rising costs without commensurate increases in output, has been labeled Baumol’s cost disease.
420K PDF Report.
Lance Izumi, Jason Clemens And Lingxiao Ou, via a Kris Olds email:
Canadians, particularly those of conservative persuasion, love to compare Canada with the United States, which has a lot to learn in the key area of K-12 education. As the United States struggles with mounting deficits and debt, Americans would be well served to look north if they want to raise student performance while saving money. Canadians would be equally well served to understand their own success and expand it.
Little known to most Canadians is how well the country’s students perform on international tests, particularly when compared to the United States. The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) is an internationally standardized test administered by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Every three years PISA tests 15-year-olds in reading; mathematical and scientific literacy; and general competencies — that is, how well students apply the knowledge and skills they have learned at school to real-life problems.
Brent Staples, via a kind reader’s email:
A friend who teaches at a well-known eastern university told me recently that plagiarism was turning him into a cop. He begins the semester collecting evidence, in the form of an in-class essay that gives him a sense of how well students think and write. He looks back at the samples later when students turn in papers that feature their own, less-than-perfect prose alongside expertly written passages lifted verbatim from the Web.
“I have to assume that in every class, someone will do it,” he said. “It doesn’t stop them if you say, ‘This is plagiarism. I won’t accept it.’ I have to tell them that it is a failing offense and could lead me to file a complaint with the university, which could lead to them being put on probation or being asked to leave.”
Not everyone who gets caught knows enough about what they did to be remorseful. Recently, for example, a student who plagiarized a sizable chunk of a paper essentially told my friend to keep his shirt on, that what he’d done was no big deal. Beyond that, the student said, he would be ashamed to go home to the family with an F.