Federal K-12 Funding

Overview

Federal K-12 Funding

The No Child Left Behind Act may have given the federal government a big say over K-12 policy – but Congress and the administration remain minority investors when it comes to education funding. A relatively small slice of overall financing for K-12 schools - just about 10 percent - comes from Washington, D.C. Schools across the country depend much more on state and district dollars. The federal share can range from more than 15 percent – in states including South Dakota and Louisiana – to less than 5 percent, in Connecticut and New Jersey.

The No Child Left Behind Act may have given the federal government a big say over K-12 policy – but Congress and the administration remain minority investors when it comes to education funding. A relatively small slice of overall financing for K-12 schools – just about 10 percent – comes from Washington, D.C. Schools across the country depend much more on state and district dollars. The federal share can range from more than 15 percent – in states including South Dakota and Louisiana – to less than 5 percent, in Connecticut and New Jersey.

The federal government focuses most of its attention – and dollars – on poor children and those with disabilities, through two key programs that go out to districts by formula. Districts get $14.5 billion annually to help educate low-income children through the Title I program, which gets its name from the first part – or “title” – of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. States receive $11.6 billion in special education grants, through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA, enacted in 1975.

Title I dollars flow from the U.S. Department of Education to states, based on a complicated formula that primarily takes into account census poverty data, as well as the cost of education in each state. State education agencies – typically the Title I director or a state finance official – set aside a small percentage of the money for administration and school improvement. The money flows to districts, which distribute it to schools based mostly on the number of children in poverty they serve.  Schools can use the money for instructional programs for low-income kids, including hiring teachers, coaches or paraprofessionals to work with those students. If more than 40 percent of a school’s population is made up of kids in poverty, the school can use the money for programs that benefit all students.

Special education money is structured similarly. The money flows from the federal government to the state education agency. It is distributed to districts by either the state special education director or an education finance official. Schools use the money for the instructional needs of special education kids, such as hiring staff or buying educational equipment.

Title I and special education aren’t the only sources of federal funding that go out to districts. Schools also rely on the $1 billion Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education program – the biggest federal program for high schools – which helps districts offer vocational programs. The federal government also directs roughly $2.5 billion to the Improving Teacher Quality state grant program, which goes out to states by a formula. Schools use that money to reduce class size or provide professional development, or for more innovative programs, such as offering mentors to novice teachers. For more, see President Obama’s most recent budget request. And there are a myriad of smaller, more targeted programs in the U.S. Department of Education tailored to specific goals such as turning around low-performing schools, or improving outcomes for English-language learners.

The U.S. Department of Education also finances competitive grant programs – which have been a particular passion for the Obama administration. A tension exists between the administration and advocates for school districts – represented by groups like the American Association of School Administrators and the National School Boards Association – over whether any increased funding should be targeted to competitive grant programs that help districts and states push education reform, or to formula funds, which help nearly every district with basic operations.

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At the same time, it seeks a historic $1.4 billlon federal investment in school choice, including new money for private school vouchers and charter schools, as well as directing $1 billion to follow students to the school of their choice. 

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Member Stories

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Here's what we're reading by EWA members this week

For the San Antonio Express-News, Alia Malik speaks with families who still feel threatened by the shifting enforcement of immigration laws even after the San Antonio Independent School District Board of Trustees approved a resolution to protect their identities.


 

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In a recent interview, Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., the chairman of the House appropriations subcommittee that oversees the U.S. Department of Education budget, said that while he has certain ideas about how federal spending on schools might shape up in the near future, he’ll want to get a lot of input first from President Donald Trump’s administration. And he highlighted the importance of federal spending on students with disabilities. 

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With Historic Tiebreaker From Pence, Devos Confirmed As Education Secretary

The Senate confirmed Betsy DeVos as education secretary Tuesday by the narrowest of margins, with Vice President Pence casting a historic tiebreaking vote after senators deadlocked over her fitness for the job.

DeVos now takes the helm of the Education Department with questions about whether and how the polarizing fight over her confirmation will affect her power to advance the Trump administration’s agenda.

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Under New Leadership, FCC Quashes Report on E-rate Program’s Success

The Federal Communications Commission on Friday rescinded its own report documenting the success of the E-rate program, a multi-billion dollar FCC-led initiative that has helped tens of thousands of schools and libraries obtain high-speed internet access.

The report will have “no legal or other effect or meaning going forward,” according to the commission’s order.

The move prompted sharp criticism from education and open-government groups.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

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Here’s Why Betsy DeVos Will Likely Be Confirmed, Despite Pushback

Betsy DeVos, President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the U.S. Department of Education, is at the center of a social media maelstrom and has stirred more opposition than any other candidate for secretary in the department’s more than three decade history. However, DeVos only needs Republican support to be confirmed. And the GOP controlls the U.S. Senate 52 to 48. That means, if all the Democrats vote against DeVos as expected, three senators would need to flip to defeat her.

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How Jeff Sessions Helped Kill Equitable School Funding in Alabama

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Just How Much Money Has Donald Trump’s Secretary Of Education Choice Given To Republicans?

Since Donald Trump picked Michigan fundraiser and school voucher advocate Betsy DeVos as his secretary of Education, Democrats and other political observers have examined her generous political contributions and any conflicts they might pose.

On Tuesday, at DeVos’ confirmation hearing, Sen. Bernie Sanders raised the issue again, but DeVos, who is married to the billionaire heir to the Amway fortune, said she didn’t know how much her family had contributed to the Republican Party.

Sanders (I-Vt.) wasn’t deterred.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

For Trump Pick DeVos, Confirmation Hearing Is a Bear

Tuesday’s confirmation hearing for billionaire school advocate Betsy DeVos — President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for U.S. secretary of education — was a doozy.

DeVos sought to present herself as ready to oversee the federal agency, but some of her remarks suggested a lack of familiarity with the federal laws governing the nation’s schools.

In her opening statement before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, DeVos said:

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Democrats Press Betsy DeVos on Privatization, ESSA, and LGBT Rights

Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump’s pick to lead the U.S. Department of Education, sought to use her confirmation hearing to beat back the notion that she would undermine public education as head of the department, as Democrats pressed her on everything from her views on the civil rights of gay and lesbian students, to states’ responsibilities for students in special education, and guns in schools. 

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Education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos voiced strong support for public school alternatives at her confirmation hearing Tuesday, telling senators that “parents no longer believe that a one-size-fits-all model of learning fits the needs of every child.”

DeVos told the Senate Health, Education and Pensions Committe that she would be “a strong advocate for great public schools” if confirmed, but added that “if a school is troubled, or unsafe, or not a good fit for a child … we should support a parent’s right to enroll their child in a high-quality alternative.”

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The hearing quickly became a heated and partisan debate that reflected the nation’s political divide on how best to spend public money in education.

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When President Obama took office in January 2009, the country was on edge, the economy in free-fall. The federal education law, known as No Child Left Behind, was also in need of an update after earning the ire of teachers, parents and politicians alike. In short, there was much to do.

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Havasu Canyon is home to turquoise waterfalls, billowing cottonwood trees, and red sandstone cliffs that attract thousands of tourists each year. It’s also home to the Havasupai people, a federally recognized Native American tribe allegedly subject to education conditions so dreadful it’s as if many of the reservation’s children don’t attend school at all.

EWA Radio

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EWA Radio

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What Will Be Obama’s Lasting Education Legacy?

President Obama and his former education secretary Arne Duncan exercised more power and influence over education policy than many predecessors. The administration placed a focus on testing, trying it to federal funding. In higher education, he emphasized the importance of college and reducing student debt. Alison Stewart talks to Education Week’s Alyson Klein and Inside Higher Ed’s Scott Jaschik.

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Tricky Balance in Shifting From ESSA Blueprint to K-12 Reality

One year ago, President Barack Obama and longtime education leaders in Congress burst through years of deadlock to pass the Every Student Succeeds Act, the first update to the nation’s main K-12 law in over a decade.

Now the law remains a work in progress, as states, districts, and a shifting cast of federal officials work furiously to prepare for its full rollout this fall.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

What’s Next for the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics?
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Alejandra Ceja has been the executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics since 2013 — a position she’ll give up at noon on Jan. 19, the day before the presidential inauguration. I recently sat down with her at the U.S. Department of Education to talk about the state of Latino education, the Initiative’s first 25 years, and what we can expect from the Initiative under the next administration. 

Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length. 

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How A California Tribe Is Trying To Revitalize Itself, From Cradle To College

It began with everyone in the Corning-Paskenta Tribal Community doing their parts.

There were home visits to new parents, a deep look at how to boost early-reading skills,and programs to help middle-schoolers avoid substance abuse and violence.

There were four years of surveys and research on what worked and what didn’t. And there were dozens of meetings that reached out to many groups normally left out of policy discussions, such as teen parents and migrant workers.

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‘School Choice’ Or ‘Privatization’? A Guide To Loaded Education Lingo In The Trump Era

Some people — including President-elect Donald Trump — believe that to improve U.S. education, the nation should stop spending so many tax dollars on public schools and instead invest in alternatives, including charter schools and taxpayer-funded vouchers for private and religious schools.

They say they are part of a movement for school choice, for empowering all parents, regardless of income, to select the best learning experience for their children.

Member Stories

December 2 – December 8
Here's what we're reading by EWA members

Boys are less likely than girls to take advantage of college-prep services in California. Larry Gordon of EdSource reports on the how and why.

The school district in Ohio’s capital created a counseling response team to aid students at campuses beset by tragedy. A team of roughly 20 personnel responded to 17 incidents last year, write Bill Bush and Shannon Gilchrist for The Columbus Dispatch.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

How Will Education Fare Under President Trump?

The long, strange election cycle came to an end Tuesday with the election of Donald Trump as the next president. And while his campaign platform was scarce on education policy details, there’s no question his administration will have a significant impact, from early childhood to K-12 and higher education

Key Coverage

Divided America: In Recovery, Many Poor Schools Left Behind

Consider Waukegan and Stevenson, two Illinois school districts separated by 20 miles — and an enormous financial gulf.

Stevenson, mostly white, is flush with resources. The high school has five different spaces for theater performances, two gyms, an Olympic-size pool and an espresso bar.

Meanwhile Waukegan, with its mostly minority student body, is struggling. At one school, the band is forced to practice in a hallway, and as many as 28 students share a single computer.

Multimedia

Pre-K-12 Education in the 2016 Race
The U.S. Elections & Education: Part 1

Pre-K-12 Education in the 2016 Race

Experts and advocates assess how early childhood and K-12 education issues are factoring into the presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. They offer analysis of the candidates’ campaign positions and explore the complex politics of education policy. They also discuss other key elections around the nation with big stakes for education.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Back-to-School: You Need Stories, We’ve Got Ideas

Back-to-School: You Need Stories, We’ve Got Ideas

The boys (and girls) are back in town. For class, that is.

See how forced that lede was? Back-to-school reporting can take on a similar tinge of predictability, with journalists wondering how an occasion as locked in as the changing of the seasons can be written about with the freshness of spring.

Recently some of the beat’s heavy hitters dished with EWA’s Emily Richmond about ways newsrooms can take advantage of the first week of school to tell important stories and cover overlooked issues.

EWA Radio

Revisiting “Savage Inequalities” of School Funding
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HarperPerennial

For more than two decades, “Savage Inequalities” — a close look at school funding disparities nationwide — has been required reading at many colleges and universities. And with a growing number of states facing legal challenges to how they fund their local schools, author Jonathan Kozol’s work has fresh relevance. Education journalists Lauren Camera (US News & World Report) and Christine Sampson (East Hampton Star) talk with EWA public editor Emily Richmond about how Kozol’s book has influenced their own reporting.

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As Convention Dust Settles, Where Do Clinton and Trump Stand on Education?

Balloons drop over the crowd in Philadelphia following Hillary Clinton's acceptance of the Democratic Party's nomination for president. (Andrew Ujifusa/Education Week)

When compared to Donald Trump’s single education policy-related sentence in his acceptance speech at the Republican convention, Hillary Clinton’s remarks on the subject Thursday night were certainly more extensive, as she sought to emphasize a track record of making schools, teachers, families, and students her political — and personal — priorities.

Seminar

Election 2016: New President, New Education Agenda
Washington, D.C. • November 14, 2016

The election of Republican Donald Trump is sure to reshape federal policy for education in significant ways, from prekindergarten to college, especially coupled with the GOP’s retaining control of Congress.

Although Trump spent relatively little time on education in his campaign, he did highlight the issue from time to time, from his sharp criticism of the Common Core and high student debt loads to proposing a plan to significantly expand school choice. And Congress has a long to-do list, including reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

Seminar

The U.S. Elections & Education: Part 1
Washington, D.C. • August 30, 2016

Now that the White House race has narrowed to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, how is education playing out as an issue in the campaign? Will it prove an important fault line between the Democratic and Republican candidates? Will Trump offer any details to contrast with Clinton’s extensive set of proposals from early childhood to higher education? What are the potential implications for schools and colleges depending on who wins the White House? Also, what other races this fall should be on the radar of journalists, whether elections for Congress, state legislatures, or governor?

Multimedia

By the Book: Dale Russakoff, The Prize
Video Resources from the 69th EWA National Seminar

By the Book: Dale Russakoff, The Prize

When Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced his $100 million pledge to transform the downtrodden schools of Newark, New Jersey, then-mayor Cory Booker and Governor Chris Christie were beside him, vowing to help make Newark “a symbol of educational excellence for the whole nation.” Dale Russakoff’s book tells the story of what happened next.

  • Dale Russakoff, author
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Webinar

On Target? Following Federal K-12 Aid for Poor Students

On Target? Following Federal K-12 Aid for Poor Students

As part of its effort to help close the achievement gap for disadvantaged students, the U.S. government spends more than $14 billion annually through the Title I program. But a sizable share of those billions go to affluent school systems. Why do some high-poverty districts receive less federal Title I aid than those that serve a far smaller proportion of low-income students? This week, U.S. News & World Report released an exclusive investigation on the federal funding stream.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Trump’s Education Agenda, in 52 Seconds

Trump’s Education Agenda, in 52 Seconds

With Donald Trump now seen as the presumptive Republican nominee for president, after his strong victory in the Indiana primary, attention surely will grow to what he would actually do if elected.

If you want to know where Trump stands on education, you might think the first place to go would be his campaign website.

EWA Radio

Iowa Is First: The Presidential Candidates – and Their Education Plans
EWA Radio: Episode 57

(Flickr/Phil Roeder)

Iowa prides itself on holding the first caucuses of the presidential election year. EWA public editor Emily Richmond talks with statewide education reporter Mackenzie Ryan of the Des Moines Register about what it’s like to be at the epicenter of the presidential race insanity, her coverage of Republican hopeful Marco Rubio, and the big concerns for Iowa voters when it comes to public schools. 

EWA Radio

The Higher Ed Beat: Are You Ready for 2016?
EWA Radio: Episode 54

Scott Jaschik, editor and co-founder of Inside Higher Ed, shares his thoughts on the coming year with EWA Radio. Among the topics he and public editor Emily Richmond tackle in this episode: Will 2015’s widespread campus protests over racial issues carry over into the New Year? How will community college factor into state funding formulas for higher education? Why are younger U.S. military veterans an ever-growing market for universities? And what should reporters watch out for when reporting on the intersection of politics and education policy? 

EWA Radio

Happy New Year: What Education Reporters Need To Know
EWA Radio: Episode 53

Pixabay/Stefan Schweihofer

With school back in session and a new federal education law on the books, K-12 reporter Motoko Rich of the New York Times shares her predictions for the hot topics on the education beat in 2016, as well as some of her favorite stories of the past year produced by other journalists. She also offers some smart tips for reporters looking to localize national issues for their own audiences.

Webinar

Exclusive Access: Education Week’s ‘Quality Counts’ 2016

Exclusive Access: Education Week’s ‘Quality Counts’ 2016

EWA journalist members received an early opportunity to review Education Week’s newest Quality Counts report, which includes a special focus on school accountability.

As part of its annual Quality Counts report, Education Week grades states on a wide range of indicators, including the Chance-for-Success Index, K-12 Achievement Index, and school finance.

Key Coverage

How Washington Created Some of the Worst Schools in America

Flash forward 46 more years. The network of schools for Native American children run by an obscure agency of the Interior Department remains arguably the worst school system in the United States, a disgrace the government has known about for eight decades and never successfully reformed. Earlier this fall, POLITICO asked President Obama’s secretary of education, Arne Duncan, about perhaps the federal government’s longest-running problem: “It’s just the epitome of broken,” he said. “Just utterly bankrupt.” The epitome of broken looks like Crystal Boarding School.

Report

State Capacity to Support School Turnaround
Institute of Education Sciences National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance

More than 80 percent of states made turning around low-performing schools a high priority, but at least 50 percent found it very difficult to turn around low-performing schools. 38 states (76 percent) reported significant gaps in expertise for supporting school turnaround in 2012, and that number increased to 40 (80 percent) in 2013.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Higher Ed. Gets Brief Spotlight During Democratic Debate

Twitter/@NBCNightlyNews

It took nearly two hours, but education — more specifically college affordability and some differences in how to address it — came to the fore in the first Democratic presidential debate after CNN co-moderator Dana Bush asked both Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about their plans.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Mixed Reviews for Stricter School Lunch Menus

Students at Washington-Lee High School, part of Arlington Public Schools, are served meals as part of the National School Lunch Program. New federal regulations set stricter standards for nutritional content. (Flickr/U.S. Department of Agriculture)

Long mocked for its inedibility, campus cafeteria food is undergoing a federally mandated transformation, and schools are realizing it’s going to take more than sprinkling kale on pizza to really change the way students eat. 

Seminar

69th EWA National Seminar

The Education Writers Association, the national professional organization for journalists who cover education, is thrilled to announce that its annual conference will take place from Sunday, May 1, through Tuesday, May 3, 2016, in the historic city of Boston.

Co-hosted by Boston University’s College of Communication and School of Education, EWA’s 69th National Seminar will examine a wide array of timely topics in education — from early childhood through career — while expanding and sharpening participants’ skills in reporting and storytelling.

Boston, Massachusetts
Webinar

Is It Bon Voyage For No Child Left Behind?
Webinar on Federal Policy

(Flickr/Patrick)

Education Week reporter Lauren Camera, David DeSchryver, senior vice president of Whiteboard Advisors, and Bethany Little, principal at Education Counsel, break down the future of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act for journalists.

Now that both the Senate and the House of Representatives have passed bills renewing the act, journalists can examine the potential impact of the new provisions. Learn how you can cover these in your state and district and find out questions you should be asking.

Speakers

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Beyond NCLB: New Era in Federal Education Policy?

Screenshot of a tweet by @KristenRencher

Fifty years ago, the federal government enacted the landmark Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s war on poverty. The newest version of the ESEA, the No Child Left Behind Act, became law 13 years ago and has stayed in place ever since. On Thursday, a new version of the federal government’s most far-reaching K-12 education law moved closer to adoption. The U.S. Senate passed the Every Child Achieves Act, one week after the U.S. House of Representatives passed its own version, the Student Success Act.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

NCLB Rewrite Survives Senate Vote

A mock schoolhouse outside the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, D.C. (Flickr/elonjoned)

It’s been a hugely busy week for education reporters on Capitol Hill, as the Senate plowed its way through the Every Child Achieves Act, one of the leading contenders to replace No Child Left Behind as the nation’s framework for funding public schools.

The Senate approved passage of the bill Thursday with 81-17 vote. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Senate to Debate Replacement for No Child Left Behind

The U.S. Senate is scheduled to debate reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the key mechanism for delivering federal funding to the nation's public schools. (Flickr/Wally Gobetz)

After countless false starts and protracted negotiations, a bill to reauthorize the main federal law for K-12 education is slated for consideration by the U.S. Senate this week.

This is the closest the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act has come to reality since the law was last updated in 2002 under President George W. Bush. The law, also known as the No Child Left Behind Act, was slated for renewal in 2007.

Multimedia

Trends in Charter School Finance
2015 EWA National Seminar

Trends in Charter School Finance

Funding for charter schools is a complex and divisive issue. Do charters get an equitable share of public dollars? How do school facilities fit into the equation, as well as private sources of support for the charter sector? What are recent evolutions in policy concerning charter finance and facilities, and what’s on the horizon?

Blog: The Educated Reporter

White House School Arts Program Expands to D.C., New York

Yo-Yo Ma performs at the 2008 World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos. He's one of several dozen artists affiliated with Turnaround Arts. (Source:
By World Economic Forum from Cologny, Switzerland CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

A program that pairs celebrities with struggling schools to develop their arts education is expanding to more large cities, The U.S. Department of Education announced today. 

Known as the Turnaround Arts initiative, the $10-million effort pools public and private funds to teach music, dance and other arts disciplines at schools that are considered among the worst in their respective states.

EWA Radio

Texas School Funding: An Unfair Formula?
EWA Radio: Episode 25

Laura Isensee of Houston Public Media talks with EWA public editor Emily Richmond about her five-part series examining school funding inequities in the Lone Star State.

A former reporter with the Miami Herald, Isensee also discusses making the transition from print to broadcast, how reporters can take advantage of multimedia opportunities, and the challenge of turning “numbers heavy” pieces into stories that listeners can relate to—and want to hear.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

How to Get Dollars to Schools That Need Them

"Covering the Economics of Education," April 20, 2015.

At a speech in December, Janet Yellen, the chair of the Federal Reserve, took the United States to task for the way it funds schools.

“Public education spending is often lower for students in lower-income households than for students in higher-income households,” she told the audience at the Conference on Economic Opportunity and Inequality, in Boston.

Story Lab

Story Lab: Making Federal Data a Gold Mine for Your Reporting

Need a state or national statistic? There’s likely a federal data set for that. From fairly intuitive and interactive widgets to dense spreadsheets — and hundreds of data summaries in between — the U.S. Department of Education’s various research programs are a gold mine for reporters on the hunt for facts and figures.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Arne Duncan: Education Is ‘Great Equalizer’ But Not Yet National Priority

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan fields reporters' questions culled by Motoko Rich of the New York Times at EWA's National Seminar in Chicago, April 21, 2015. (Lloyd Degrane for EWA)

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan subjected himself to what might have been the ultimate edu-press conference in Chicago Tuesday, allowing hundreds of reporters to grill him on testing, No Child Left Behind, college ratings (and yes, White Suburban moms) at the Education Writers Association’s 68th National Seminar. 

Multimedia

RIP NCLB?: A New Role for Uncle Sam
2015 EWA National Seminar

 RIP NCLB?: A New Role for Uncle Sam

Speakers, including U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita, R-IN, offer reporters the lay of the land and discuss how rewriting the No Child Left Behind Act may affect their school districts and states. Some speakers say NCLB is already dead, but they’re still not certain what will take its place, other than policies handed down through the U.S. Department of Education’s waivers from NCLB provisions.

Report

Race to the Top: Education Could Better Support Grantees and Help Them Address Capacity Challenges

The Department of Education’s (Education) Race to the Top (RTT) program encouraged states to reform their K-12 educational systems, but states and districts faced various capacity challenges in implementing the reforms. RTT accelerated education reforms underway and spurred new reforms in all 19 RTT states and in an estimated 81 percent of districts, according to GAO’s surveys of RTT grantees and districts that received RTT funds. At the same time, states and districts noted various challenges to their capacity to successfully support, oversee, and implement these reform efforts. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Congress Moves a (Big) Step Closer to Rewriting No Child Left Behind

A congressional compromise is at hand to rewrite No Child Left Behind, removing many of the more onerous provisions of the federal education law while giving states greater flexibility in accountability.

While the “Every Student Achieves” bipartisan bill announced Tuesday still has significant hurdles to clear before passage, it’s certainly the closest Congress has come to an agreement on revising the education law in nearly a decade.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

The 2015 Education Beat: Common Core, Testing, School Choice

Students at New York University work on a computer programming project. More interactive learning is expected to be a hot topic in the coming year on both the K-12 and higher education beats. (Flickr/Matylda Czarnecka)

There’s a busy year ahead on the schools beat – I talked to reporters, policy analysts and educators to put together a cheat sheet to a few of the stories you can expect to be on the front burner in the coming months: 

Revamping No Child Left Behind

Blog: The Educated Reporter

White House Proposes Tougher Accountability Standards for Teacher Colleges

EWA seminar panel on teacher college accountability, Oct. 21, 2014, Detroit. From left: Stephen Sawchuk, Education Week; Jim Cibulka, CAEP; Segun Eubanks, NEA; Kate Walsh, NCTQ. (NEA Media)

In 2011, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan called it “laughable” that in the prior decade the majority of states had failed to rate even one teaching preparation program as inferior. On Tuesday, the White House released draft accountability regulations that are no joke for the nation’s teacher colleges, and could result in a loss of federal funding if their graduates fail to do well on the job.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Education and the Election: What Happened and What It Means

Source: Flickr/Ginny (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The midterm election results have big implications for education, from Republicans’ success in retaking the U.S. Senate to new governors coming in and a slew of education ballot measures, most of which were defeated.

The widely watched race for California’s schools superintendent came down to the wire, with incumbent Tom Torlakson edging out challenger Marshall Tuck — a former charter schools administrator: 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Are Students Learning Lessons of Midterm Elections?

Today is a day off from school for millions of students as campuses in some districts and states — including Michigan and New York — are converted into polling stations for the midterm elections. To Peter Levine, the director of the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, that’s a missed opportunity to demonstrate democracy in action.

Reporter Guide

Reporter Guide: Campaign Finance

Campaign finance might seem like the exclusive province of political reporters, but there are many good reasons why you should be paying attention – both in races for education positions and in other key races at the local, state, and federal levels with implications for education. You’ll need basic math and it helps to have familiarity with a spreadsheet, but you’ll find that once you’ve mastered the basics, a good campaign finance story can take on the fun of light detective work.

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Federal Funding for Students with Disabilities

In Federal Funding for Students with Disabilities: The Evolution of Federal Special Education Finance in the U.S., New America provides a history of special education financing in the U.S., and highlights the latest shift in the mission of the IDEA funding formula: a change from providing dollars directly based on the number of special education students, to ensuring the federal government provides sufficient resources for those students without encouraging the over-identification of children as requiring special education–mainly by cutting out financial incentives to do so.

Report

Federal Funding for Students with Disabilities
The Evolution of Federal Special Education Finance in the U.S.

In Federal Funding for Students with Disabilities: The Evolution of Federal Special Education Finance in the U.S., New America provides a history of special education financing in the U.S., and highlights the latest shift in the mission of the IDEA funding formula: a change from providing dollars directly based on the number of special education students, to ensuring the federal government provides sufficient resources for those students without encouraging the over-identification of children as requiring special education–mainly by cutting out financial incentives to do so.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Federal Government Gets Tougher on States Receiving Special Education Funds

Source: U.S. Department of Education

The number of states in compliance with federal special education rules dropped from 38 to 15 after implementation of tougher regulations today, according to a U.S. Department of Education report. The findings are part of a renewed push to help special ed students, who comprise roughly 13 percent of all public school kids in the U.S., in the form of new state regulations that take into account the achievement of students with disabilities.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Common Core a Tainted Brand?

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam addresses attendees at the 67th National Seminar.

Tennessee joins a phalanx of other states in ending its relationship with one of the two Common Core-aligned assessment groups.

The state’s top three education leaders sent a letter to Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) announcing that Tennessee will be seeking a new set of tests and leaving the consortium. Education Week has more.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Live From Nashville: EWA’s 67th National Seminar

I’ve often made the case that there’s no reporting beat where the reporters are more collegial – or more committed to their work – than education. EWA’s 67th National Seminar, hosted by Vanderbilt University, helped to prove that point.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Early Childhood Education: Does the Research Justify the Cost?

EWA recently hosted a seminar in New Orleans on early childhood education. We asked some of the journalists who attended  to contribute posts from the sessions. Today’s guest blogger is Alexander Russo of Scholastic’s This Week in Education. You can also find out more about early childhood education on EWA’s Topics page.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

After-School Learning Advocates Hope Research Leads to More Federal Dollars

Learning doesn’t stop when the last bell of the day rings, but for most communities, money to support after-school activities is tight.

The largest federal grant program dedicated to learning outside of class – after school, before school and during summers – is roughly only $1.15 billion for the entire nation, for instance. The AfterSchool Alliance, an advocacy group, notes that of all the money spent on education outside of normal school hours, Uncle Sam only kicks in about a tenth. Parents, meanwhile, contribute three-quarters of the dollars spent in total.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro: Preschool Initiative `a Model for the Nation’

San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro talks to Carolina Astrain of the Victoria Advocate at EWA's Feb. 2014 conference on early childhood education.

A few years ago, San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro – the Democratic Party’s first Hispanic keynote convention speaker – decided his city needed to expand its preschool opportunities for young children. To pay for it, Castro built a coalition of public-private partnerships and bipartisan support and convinced voters in 2012 to approve a new tax that would fund expanded preschool opportunities throughout the city. Known as “Pre-K 4 San Antonio,” the program launched in the fall and is expected to expand in the coming years.  Castro was the keynote speaker at EWA’s recent seminar for journalists on early childhood education, held at Tulane University in New Orleans. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

State of the Union: What Education Analysts Expect to Hear

Official White House photo by Pete Souza

The annual State of the Union address to Congress – and the nation – is President Obama’s opportunity to outline his administration’s goals for the coming months, but it’s also an opportunity to look back at the education priorities outlined in last year’s address – and what progress, if any, has been made on them.

Among the big buzzwords in the 2013 State of the Union: college affordability, universal access to early childhood education, and workforce development.

Organization

The Council of Great City Schools

The Council of Great City Schools works on behalf of the nation’s urban public school districts, providing research and support on issues ranging from the challenges of educating diverse student populations to tracking superintendent hiring, tenure, and benefits.

Organization

The National Association of State Budget Officers

The National Association of State Budget Officers uses research, policy analysis and education to advance state budget practices.

The Council of Chief State School Officers is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization representing state-level education leaders from across the country.

Organization

The Committee for Education Funding

The Committee for Education Funding is a nonpartisan lobbying group representing more than 100 00 organizations including K-12 school districts, colleges and universities, nonprofits, professional associations, research firms, and coalitions of educators, parents, and public employees.

Organization

The American Association of School Administrators

The American Association of School Administrators counts more than 13,000 educational leaders from across the United States and the world in its membership. These members include chief executive officers, superintendents and senior level school administrators along with cabinet members, some professors and others who manage schools and school systems. AASA was founded in 1865. Regarding NCLB, AASA has asserted that “The accountability system should be made up of measures of growth that differentiate levels of success.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

New Polls Show Americans Frustrated With State of Education

New Polls Show Americans Frustrated With State of Education

At 9 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 21, EWA’s Emily Richmond talks with Phi Delta Kappa’s Bill Bushaw about a new Gallup/PDK poll on attitudes toward public education. Watch it here!

The PDK/Gallup poll generated some media buzz, and when viewed alongside two other education polls released this week, reveals a populace that has an ambivalent view on the state of U.S. schools. 

Catch up with news coverage of the polls’ results and responses from stakeholders below:

Webinar

Education at a Glance 2013: EWA/OECD Webinar
55 minutes

How much of the U.S. gross domestic product is spent on education? How does that education spending break down for early childhood education, K-12 education and higher education? How much private spending is dedicated to education, compared to public spending? What is the link between higher education degrees and unemployment rates in the U.S. and other countries?

Report

Fiscal Year 2013 Recap and Fiscal Year 2014 Early Analysis

Making sense of the annual appropriations process and the federal education budget can be a frustrating task for education advocates, state and local policymakers, the media, and the public. With the fiscal year 2013 budget and appropriations process now complete and the 2014 process just beginning, now is an opportune time to assess how federal education programs have been, and are likely to be, affected by these developments.

Key Coverage

Advocates Raise Concerns on Looming ‘Sequester’ Cuts

Education advocates and the Obama administration are anxiously eyeing a series of across-the-board cuts set to hit a broad swath of federal domestic and military spending programs early next year, unless a sharply divided Congress can agree on a long-term plan to put the nation’s fiscal house in order

Report

Under Threat: Sequestration’s Impact on Nondefense Jobs and Services

So far, we’ve heard a great deal about sequestration’s effects on Pentagon spending. But sequestration wouldn’t apply only to defense. It would also have destructive impacts on the whole array of Federal activities that promote and protect the middle class
in this country — everything from education to job training, medical research, child care, worker safety, food safety, national parks, border security and safe air travel.

Multimedia

In the Trenches: Teachers’ Take on Turnarounds

In the Trenches: Teachers’ Take on Turnarounds

Anthony Cody, a longtime teacher and blogger who is now a consultant and expert on teacher leadership, and Lisa Goncalves Lavin, a first grade teacher and member of the Turnaround Teacher Team (T3) at Blackstone Elementary School in Boston, Mass., share their views of how teachers are experiencing turnaround efforts.

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Lessons Learned: What We Know About School Turnarounds

Lessons Learned: What We Know About School Turnarounds

In this excerpt from his presentation at EWA’s March 24 conference in Chicago, Professor Daniel Duke of the University of Virginia reviews the history of recent school turnaround efforts, lessons that can be drawn from successes and setbacks, and issues and concerns that persist as the reform effort moves forward.

Multimedia

Charter Schools’ Role in Turnaround and Transformation

Charter Schools’ Role in Turnaround and Transformation

How does the charter school model factor into efforts to turn around low-achieving campuses? Why haven’t more charter management organizations signed on for school turnarounds? What questions should reporters be asking when faced with conflicting data on charter school performance?

Multimedia

Turnaround Schools: Federal Priorities and Research Findings

Turnaround Schools: Federal Priorities and Research Findings

Deputy Assistant Secretary Jason Snyder of the U.S. Department of Education provides an overview of federal reform efforts and the Obama administration’s goals for the SIG program.

Timothy Knowles, director of the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute, talks about key findings from studies of Chicago’s turnaround initiative.

Recorded at EWA’s March 24, 2012 conference on school turnarounds at the University of Chicago