While the economy may be showing signs of life, local school districts nationwide continue to struggle mightily. The "new normal" of tougher budget times is here to stay for American K-12 education. So how can local officials cope?
In Fordham's latest policy brief, released today, Mike provides a useful tool for navigating the financial challenges of the current school-funding climate, complete with clear dos and don'ts for anyone involved in or concerned with local education budgets. He argues that quick fixes won't solve the problem, nor will slashing teacher salaries. Instead, creative, thoughtful, and fundamental changes are needed to address our budget crisis without hurting children.
Download "How School Districts Can Stretch the School Dollar" to learn more.
We are obligated to respect the office of President of the United States but nobody needs to agree with what the occupant of that office says. And Barack Obama could not have been more wrong in his mid-day remarks yesterday to the nation's governors on the subject of school teachers.
The President could not have been more wrong in his remarks yesterday to the nation's governors on the subject of school teachers.
Photo by jamesomalley.
In perhaps his most vivid example yet of election-year pandering to the teacher unions that comprise a non-trivial part of the Democratic Party's "base," he rattled on at considerable length about the need to "get more teachers into our classrooms."
MORE teachers. Not better teachers. Not teachers that add greater value to their students and make their schools more effective. Not teachers who know their subject matter. Not more pay and greater professional opportunities for outstanding teachers. Just plain MORE TEACHERS, supported with more money from federal and state budgets.
Don't ask whether that's the best possible use of scarce education dollars in a time of reduced revenue and perilous debt. Just spend more on more teachers.
Almost everybody who has paid any attention to education policy or finance by now knows that the student:teacher ratio in U.S. schools went from
When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, hundreds of public schools were put out of commission and their staff placed on leave. Many charters schools expanded to absorb the displaced students, and these charter schools hired teachers from traditional schools to meet the enrollment demand. A glitch, fixed by state legislation, was to allow the displaced teachers to remain in the state teacher pension plan since some of the charter schools did not participate in the state plan. In 2010 this temporary law expired. Many of these transplanted teachers remain employed in charter schools and wished to continue to participate in the state teacher plan. Legislation was passed to allow these transplanted teachers to remain permanently in the state retirement plan, if—and this is a very big if—the Treasury Department approved.
Are charter schools sufficiently “governmental” that they can participate in state and local pension plans?
The Treasury Department held off ruling on the Louisiana case while it worked on regulations that would provide new guidance on what it meant for a plan to be a "governmental plan." In November, the Treasury Department issued proposed regulations on the subject, and the news is not good for charter school teachers in Louisiana, or anywhere, since these new rules would affect charter schools in all states.
The legal issues are complex, and in a forthcoming study, two of us (Buck and Thukral) will attempt to sort them out. However, the nub of the matter centers on whether charter school teachers are considered government employees. In particular, are charter schools sufficiently “governmental” that they can participate in
Writers on the Gadfly Daily blogs analyzed issues from around the country this week, discussing everything from the lessons that the Louisiana Recovery School District has to offer to the tough talk coming from New York State.
School choice was a big theme, with Fordham announcing the new editor of the Choice Words blog, Adam Emerson, who explained the importance of “subsidiarity” in education. On Flypaper, Mike argued that charter schools should approach district collaboration with caution and from a position of strength, while Terry noted that Ohio has prime examples of getting charter-district relationships wrong on the Ohio Gadfly Daily blog.
Stretching the School Dollar explained the flaws in a recent school funding court decision and why paycheck protection needs to be a policy priority, while on the Common Core Watch blog Kathleen argued that having a plan for CCSS implementation is a start—but just a start.
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About the Editor
Michael J. Petrilli
Executive Vice President
Mike Petrilli is one of the nation's foremost education analysts. As executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, he oversees the organization's research projects and publications and contributes to the Flypaper blog and weekly Education Gadfly newsletter.
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