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RESOURCE INEQUITIES IN U.S. PUBLIC K-12 EDUCATION BY LOGAN R. BARTHOLOMEW A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Social Sciences New College of Florida in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts Under the Sponsorship of Dr. Richard Coe, Professor Department of Economics Sarasota, Florida, USA February 2013
Bartholomew ii TABLE OF CONTENTS List of Tables__________________________________________ iii Abstract_________________________________________________ iv Introduction______________________________________________ 1 Chapter 1: Monetary Resources_____________________________ 5 Ancillary Data: Variation in Education Spending Between States___________________________________________________ 26 Chapter 2: Labor & Other Resources_______________________ 30 Chapter 3: Policy Changes________________________________ 47 Conclusion_______________________________________________ 62 Works Cited______________________________________________ 65
Bartholomew iii List of Tables Table 1: 2009-10 Per-pupil K-12 Education Spending, Average 2010 ACT Composite Score, and Percentage of High School Graduates taking 2010 ACT (by State)_____________________26 Table 2: Per-Student Spending by District Poverty Rate, Selected States__________________________________________29 Table 3: PISA Ranking of Various Countries with Instructional Hours per Year_____________________________60
Bartholomew iv RESOURCE INEQUITIES IN U.S. PUBLIC K-12 EDUCATION Logan Bartholomew New College of Florida, 2013 ABSTRACT The purpose of this paper is to explain the historical precedent of resource inequities in United States public K12 education, and to offer solutions to remedy these imbalances. The historical use of property taxes to fund local education is explained, along with attempts through both the legislative and judicial branches of government to remedy inequities inherent to that system of taxation. Other, non-monetary areas of resource needs are also explored, with specific emphasis on teachers due to their role as the most important factor in a pupils education. The papers core finding is that resources, monetary and otherwise, should be provided to schools based on local needs. The paper further finds that teacher expectations, evaluations, and compensation need to be re-thought based on emerging evidence so as to attract the best-quality personnel. Finally, the paper argues for a slate of other
Bartholomew v reforms, including the lengthening of the school year and a closer review of school-choice programs. ____________________________________ Dr. Richard D. Coe Professor of Economics
Bartholomew 1 Introduction A quality education has the power to transform societies in a single generation, provide children with the protection they need from the hazards of poverty, labor exploitation and disease, and given them the knowledge, skills, and confidence to reach their full potential. Audrey Hepburn Education is one of the most fundamental functions of government. By educating the youth in their jurisdiction, governments make an investment in human capital that yields a more productive, innovative workforce, and thus furthers society as a whole. Since before the signing of its Constitution, the United States has provided for the education of children throughout the land. Unfortunately, the level of these provisions has varied greatly over time, and endures to the present day. By failing to invest the requisite resources in its educational system, and by further failing to do so in an equitable manner, the Federal and State governments do a great disservice to numerous students, and ultimately to the nation as a whole. The goal of this paper is to explore the nature of these resource-provision failures, the efforts made to rectify them, and to offer potential solutions to solve them. In addition to exploring the funding differences
Bartholomew 2 that exist, this paper will also discuss some of the less tangible inequities seen in school systems (namely, inequities found in the human and physical capital required to operate effective, high-quality schools). This paper will then turn to offer a number of policy concepts that might aid lawmakers in ameliorating problems identified in the first two chapters. Equity In this policy realm, equity is a slippery word, but also a goal. To the lay person, equity in education can simply mean that the state provides the same opportunity to all, and/or a numerically equivalent amount of funding for each child. However, this definition fails to include many of the other ingredients in a quality education. This paper advances a definition of equity in education that reflects a meeting of the needs of students, as opposed to one of specific quantitative values. State policymakers have made great strides over the last 200 years or so in closing the simple numerical funding inequities between schools and school districts, but these models fail to account for the reality that the needs of schools and students are highly variable there is no single basket of resources that is perfect for all schools, nor a specific dollar-per-head amount that assures an
Bartholomew 3 effective education. Certainly, all schools require a safe physical structure, teachers, and assorted supplies such as textbooks and computers, but the exact amount and type of these resources should be determined by those professionals in the most direct contact with the student-consumers, as opposed to rationed from citizen legislatures and/or bureaucratic institutions whose members are unlikely to be well-informed about the day-to-day operation of a classroom or school. An example of this differences in how equity is defined and achieved follows: Consider two schools of similar student population, Washington High and Jefferson High, both in Exampletown. Washington serves the more affluent suburbs of Exampletown, while Jefferson serves the urban inner-city area. The state government funds each school equally on a per-student basis, and also provides each school with equivalent funds for transportation, textbooks, and computers. This arrangement would be considered equitable under most definitions. However, Washington High has a very large attendance boundary, and has transportation costs that routinely outstrip the available budget. Meanwhile, Jeffersons computers are woefully out of date and crash frequently, whereas Washingtons Parent-Teacher Association just had a
Bartholomew 4 successful fund-raiser to provide new laptops for every teacher and LCD projectors in every classroom. The teachers at Jefferson High are also inexperienced on the whole and regularly leave to take positions at other schools, sometimes leaving classes without a qualified teacher. Washington Highs, by contrast, all have at least 10 years of experience, and almost all of the turnover in the teaching corps there is due to retirement. The student outcomes realized by the students of these two schools are also very different. Jefferson Highs graduates occasionally find their way to the local community college; many are employed in the service industry. Washington High, by contrast, produces a plethora of graduates who attend four-year universities; it is rare for the valedictorian and salutatorian to attend a non-Ivy League institution. While these two example schools are on the extreme ends of the spectrum, they demonstrate how todays version of resource equality in education needs to evolve from one of equal supply to one of equal demand fulfillment.
Bartholomew 5 Chapter 1 Monetary Resources To understand the problems with funding inequities in todays schools, a review of the history is extremely useful. Many of the fiscal imbalances we see today have roots in yesterdays methodologies. Subsequent attempts to reform the manner in which the public supports education have demonstrated positive progress, but there is work yet to be done. Colonial Era to the Early 1900s The first schools of the American colonies were primarily located in the Northeast. As in England, educating children was considered a private rather than a public matter, and was largely private and religious (Odden and Picus, 2008, p. 7). Some growth was seen during the post-Revolution era, including the passage of the Land Ordinance of 1785 which reserved land in the Northwest Territories for education, plus the establishment of public schools throughout all of the states. It was not until just before the Civil War that compulsory attendance laws began coming into effect, and only afterwards did they truly take root: Only four states enacted prior to 1870, thirteen states passed laws during
Bartholomew 6 the 1870s, ten during the 1880's [sic], six during the 1890s, and all but two southern states had passed laws between 1900 and 1918 (Richardson, 1980, p. 157). Massachusetts was the first compulsory school attendance law in 1852, followed by New York a year later and spreading to finally include all of the states, finishing with Louisiana in 1916 and Mississippi in 1918 (Richardson, 1980). During the period, schools were generally fit to the community in which they were located. Now mandated by the states, local communities were generally required to fund their schools with local property taxes (Odden and Picus, 2008). Hence, there was logically quite a bit of variation in the amount of education provided to pupils. This was especially true with regard to the length of the instructional year, which ranged from just six months in some rural areas (in part to account for the need of a childs labor on the family farm) to 49 weeks annually in some urban districts (Johnson & Spradlin, 2007). After the Civil War and up to World War I, much debate was had through the United States regarding the amount of time students should be required to spend in school, with the eventual acceptance of the 180-day school year we know today (Johnson & Spradlin, 2007).
Bartholomew 7 The 1900s: Part One The 1900s saw a rapid change of pace in the U.S. education system, including major changes to educational methodology, an increased role of the judicial system, and tectonic shifts in funding sources. Initially, states began to offer local school system flat grants on a per-student basis. This state money was doled out to local school districts regardless of their fiscal need, and with few or no requirements attached to them. This system, used rarely today (one example is how North Carolina provides additional funding for its disabled students; see Section 7.1 of SB 202, NC General Assembly 2009), provides additional dollars for education, but does so while reinforcing the inequities of district tax bases it does not resolve the horizontal inequities. As a generalized example, I present Alpha County and Bravo County. Alpha County has more valuable land than Bravo County, but they have the same property tax (millage) rate for education. Alpha County raises $150 per student in local property taxes, while Bravo County can only raise $100 per pupil. Regardless, the State of Zetas flat grant system gives both counties an additional $200 per pupil, leaving Beta Countys schools with $50 less per pupil $300 versus Alpha Countys $350.
Bartholomew 8 Around the 1920s, states began to realize the disservice being done, especially those with smaller tax bases (Odden and Picus, 2008). Thus, new systems for school funding at a higher level of government was required. The attempt at equalization, still in use today by some 40 states in one way or another, is known as the foundation system (Odden and Picus, 2008). Using this method of funding, state governments ensure that all school districts under it have a minimum level of per-student funding by mandating a minimum local tax rate, and then adding state funds should the minimum not be reached by the local tax effort (Odden and Picus, 2008). One of the great benefits of this sort of funding system is that it ensures that each school district receives a minimum amount of funds per child deemed to be adequate, with little regard to a school districts tax base. It also requires that both state and local governments are partners in getting the children under their collective jurisdictions educated (Odden and Picus, 2008). Again using the generalized examples of Alpha and Bravo counties, the State of Zeta passes a law stating that each district is entitled to receive funding at $325 per student, while requiring the tax rate that Alpha and Bravo already impose. Thus, Bravo County would receive an
Bartholomew 9 additional $25 per pupil from the state government, bringing their totals up to the mandated-minimum $325 per pupil but still less than Alpha Countys $350 per head. However, this system of school finance is not without its drawbacks. One primary consideration, especially from a standpoint of horizontal equity, is local option taxes. When implemented by a local school district, an additional levy is imposed in order to raise additional funds for education outside of a states normal foundation funding formula (Odden and Picus, 2008). Furthermore, districts that are endowed with large per-pupil tax bases can garner more than the state-mandated minimum funding level, even at the minimum tax rate required by law (as with Alpha County). Instead of returning these excess funds to the state to fund poorer districts (a so-called recapture, as Wyoming does), most states allow the local district to retain these funds, thus leading to horizontal inequity in per-pupil funding across a state despite the systems best intentions (Odden and Picus, 2008). The other feature of foundation systems that has proven to be problematic is the actual dollar amount of per-pupil funding required by a states law (Odden and Picus, 2008). Ordinarily, this is a set dollar amount ensconced in statute, and not the result of any calculation
Bartholomew 10 or algorithm (e.g.,, indexing for inflation). Thus, as costs rise over time, education budgets cannot keep up without the intervention of the state legislature. Alternatively, the school district must turn back to its tax base for more funding, yielding higher taxes. There is also uncertainty as to how adequate funding can be measured and implemented in a timely manner. Towards the Present The story of school finance now uneventfully passes both World Wars to arrive in the 1950s. While not entirely within the scope of this examination, the post-World War II G.I. Bill (officially, the Servicemans Readjustment Act of 1944, Public Law 78-346) opened up the reasonable possibility of higher education to former members of the armed services. Its preferential home loan program also sparked the rise of the suburban exodus, thus changing the landscape of the nation and, by extension, U.S. education. The 1950s are also the home of one of the most wellknown decisions ever handed down by the United States Supreme Court. Oliver Brown et. al. v. Board of Education of Topeka et. al.1 invalidated the previous standard of permitting separate but equal public facilities for people of different racial backgrounds, with a focus on 1 347 U.S. 483, 1954
Bartholomew 11 those provided for public education. Brown also serves as the Supreme Courts first rejection of the notion that equal funding yielded equal results. However, racial integration of public schools did not forcibly happen until the Supreme Courts ruling in Alexander v. Holmes County Board of Education2, some 15 years following Brown. Busing was the solution of choice for implementation of these decisions, as permitted in Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education3, adding additional cost to many school district budgets. These cases were the dawn of school finance reform via the judiciary. Odden and Picus (2008) describe two main waves of school-finance litigation. The first focuses on the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and how it applies to school finance. In 1973s San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez4, the U.S. Supreme Court heard the argument at the Federal level that inequities in Texas foundation system of per-pupil funding (specifically, inequity based on differing property tax bases) was a violation of ones right the equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment; i.e., that wealth is a suspect class (Sutton, 2008, p.1964). Rodriguez alleged, 2 396 U.S. 1218, 1969 3 402 U.S. 1, 1972 4 411 U.S. 1
Bartholomew 12 and the State of Texas acknowledged at the beginning of their opening argument before the Court, that the system used to fund public education by Texas was flawed, but the State argued (and the Courts majority agreed) that since the State was not denying outright the service of an education (and in fact guaranteed it in the state Constitution), no violation of the Fourteenth Amendment was occurring (Sutton, 2008). The Court also held that education was not sufficiently proven to be textually evident under the U.S. Constitution as a fundamental right (it is the responsibility of state governments to provide for education), and thus not subject to a strict scrutiny test. The second wave of court cases described by Odden and Picus (2008), by contrast, relied upon the constitutions of each individual state, and specifically their education clauses combined with the doctrine of equal protection as spelled out in some state constitutions and/or the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. These challenges to state funding systems tended to be more successful, including Californias Serrano v. Priest5 and New Jerseys Abbot v. Burke6. As Serrano and Abbott are two 55 Cal.3d 584, 1971; 18 Cal.3d 728, 1976; 20 Cal.3d 25, 1977 6 100 N.J. 269, 495 A.2d 376, 1985, et. seq.
Bartholomew 13 of the finer specimens of state-level litigation, they will be individually reviewed: Serrano v. Priest, filed in Los Angeles County by concerned parents, asserts that the system used by California to fund its schools (which was a foundation system) materially affected students in the same manner alleged in the Supreme Courts Rodriguez case; namely, that property-poor districts (such as the one the plaintiffs lived in) had to be taxed at a higher rate in order to receive the same or lesser quality education as did other districts with a richer tax base7. The California Supreme Court agreed with the plaintiffs arguments that the disparity in funding needed to be resolved, as the foundation system relied on by California, while reducing the disparity between wealth and poor school taxing districts, still was not able to completely resolve the major funding inequities, and that taxing poorer districts at higher rates violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. As the California Court states, We have determined that this funding scheme invidiously discriminates against the poor because it makes the quality 7 5 Cal.3d 590591
Bartholomew 14 of a child's education a function of the wealth of his parents and neighbors.8. As Serrano was decided before the U.S. Supreme Courts ruling in Rodriguez, the case returned before the California Supreme Court in 1976 for further proceedings. In the case, called Serrano II, the State asked that the case be reconsidered in light of Rodriguez. However, the California Supreme Court found that its partial reliance on equal-rights guarantees in the California Constitution in Serrano I was sufficient to continue enforcement of the previous decision, despite the Rodriguez decision clarifying the reach of the U.S. Constitutions Equal Protection clause. Serrano II also found that the California Legislatures response to Serrano I was insufficient, and that the lower courts ruling that the State bring Californias per-pupil funding levels to within $100 per student was correct9. Later voter-approved changes to Californias Constitution, such as Proposition 13 of 1978 (severely limiting the rate of property taxation, the revenue source on which Californias schools relied)) and 1988s Proposition 98 (requiring particular percentages of Californias general revenue budget be spent on education) 8 5 Cal.3d 584 9 18 Cal.3d 748750
Bartholomew 15 have since generally made moot the question of whether the Serrano rulings would have been effective, but the cases are still an early demonstration of how state constitutional provisions became the preferred method for enacting change in this policy area. New Jerseys Abbot cases, in comparison to Californias Serrano, are perhaps the more famous examples of school finance reform via the court systems of the several States. In some 21 cases heard by the New Jersey courts from 1981 through the present day, Abbot v. Burke continues to shape that states financing of education. Abbott was actually sparked by another series of cases, Robinson v. Cahill I-VII (69 N.J. 133, 1975, et. seq.) which used a clause in the New Jersey Constitution which mandated that a thorough and efficient system of free public schools be operated and funded by the State [Greif, 2004; New Jersey State Constitution, Section IV(1)]. Between the time of Robinson VII and Abbott I, the New Jersey Legislature passed a law to attempt to remedy the issues raised: the Public School Education Act of 197510 (Greif, 2004). The 1975 Act implemented a guaranteed tax base (GTB) system (explained below), ensuring that all 10 Available at http://law.njstatelib.org/law_files/njlh/lh1975/L1975c212.pdf
Bartholomew 16 districts have access to a tax base of 134% of the state average (with some significant caveats, such as basing aid on the previous years district budget, and continuing to distribute monies to districts that exceeded the GTB level). It was the inequities in this law that led to the rise of the subsequent Abbott decisions. Abbott II was the first effective decision by the New Jersey Court, as Abbott I could better be described as a more procedural decision (remanding the case to an administrative law judge with the state Department of Education in order to build a more comprehensive record of the facts involved) (Education Law Center, 2011). However, the Department rejected the administrative law judges finding that property value disparities resulted in the state constitutions requirement of thorough and efficient... schools to not be met. Thus, the New Jersey Supreme Court heard Abbott II, and entered judgment in favor of Abbott (the students). Specifically, the Court found that the poorest school districts in the State of New Jersey were not being adequately funded by the combination of state and local revenues, and that even more powerful corrective action had to be taken in order to ensure that the poorer schools were meeting the burden of preparing their charges to be productive members of society.
Bartholomew 17 The Abbott II decision discusses at length what the expert testimony obtained through the proceedings of Abbott I found, with special regard paid to just how different the course offerings and even the physical infrastructure of richer and poorer were. The Court also wove in the concept throughout the latter two-thirds of its decision that the poorer school districts in its jurisdiction tended to harbor the students with the most educational needs, thus mandating that even more resources needed to be dedicated to their schooling to bring them to a level similar to that of their cohorts in wealthier school districts. Despite the obvious need for more resources described by the New Jersey Justices, the decision noted that more funding did not automatically yield better student outcomes. In many ways, the decision handed down by the New Jersey Supreme Court recognized the inability for even credentialed experts to determine the proper level of per-pupil funding for any school district, least of all those with the neediest students. Thus is demonstrated one of the major issues with funding education: assigning a dollar amount to something as fluid as teaching children. Repair Efforts As we have seen, states have made strides in closing the funding gaps between schools. However, there has been
Bartholomew 18 great difficulty with provisioning of adequate funds, which vary between districts, schools, and even children themselves. Attempts have been made to resolve this policy challenge, a few of which I now detail: As noted above, between the decision in Serrano II and New Jerseys Abbott cases, another more progressive means of school financing developed: the guaranteed tax base, or GTB, system (also known as a reward-for-effort system) (Augenblick, Myers and Anderson, 1997). As the name suggests, this system aims to resolve the tax base inequities of a foundation system by having the state government ensure that local districts have an amount of imaginary property thats deeded, so to speak, to ensure a local district meets a defined minimum amount of property value at their established tax rate (Odden and Picus, 2008). Thus, districts that have less valuable lands to tax earn more state aid by taxing the imaginary property while land-rich districts are given less or no state monies at all if their tax base meets the minimum value requirements of state law (Odden and Picus, 2008). There is, however, a corresponding rise to the GTB level when a locality raises their tax rate to increase their budget (Odden and Picus, 2008). Put another way, states give aid
Bartholomew 19 to education in inverse amount to the value of land wealth had by a district (Reilly, 1982). Returning once more to the example of property-rich Alpha County and lesser-endowed Bravo County, the State of Zeta has set up a new GTB system. Alpha County has lands valued well above the state minimum, while Bravo County is some $10,000 of land value below the minimum set by new funding formula. Thus, while Alpha County continues to tax their property at the normal rate established by the foundation system, the state gives Bravo County schools additional money under its GTB formula based on the $10,000 gap to the minimum value and Bravos property tax rate. If Bravo County were to raise their tax rates, there would be a corresponding rise in state aid offered under the state GTB formula, while a similar rise in Alpha Countys rates would not alter their levels of state aid. Another batch of funding for many school districts originates from Washington, D.C. The Federal government has had at least a small role in education since 1838, when a small office for the collection of education statistics was created (Stallings, 2002). Federal involvement in education was then shifted through numerous bureaucracies until October of 1976, when President Jimmy Carter signed into law a bill creating the Cabinet-level U.S. Department
Bartholomew 20 of Education (Stallings, 2002). Since that time, the ED11 has been the primary agency responsible for implementing and enforcing Federal education laws and policies nationwide. A first step towards closing the fiscal adequacy gap came somewhat early on. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)12 provided for the first major funding for education from the federal government. Title I of the Act, simply known as Title One in the parlance of school administrators, provided for additional funding from the national government through the states directed towards low-income students. As numerous studies have shown, student achievement tends to fall as the level of poverty rises (a negative correlation); President Lyndon Johnson pushed for passage of this Act to help ameliorate these income-related achievement gaps. Since then, the ESEA has been significantly modified through numerous reauthorizations but at its base still provides Federal funding to low-income schools and their students. A major modification to federal education policy came in January 2002 in the form of President George W. Bushs 11 As opposed to the DOE, which is the acronym for the Department of Energy 12 Public Law 8910, 1965
Bartholomew 21 No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB)13. The NCLB requires states to establish and meet high standards for student achievement, and further requires the states to measure a schools adherence to the educational standards set (ordinarily through standardized testing). Students attending schools which fail to perform to the state standards (i.e. fail to meet the Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP, standard) for two consecutive years are given the option to attend a school in the same district that has been making AYP. Should a school continue to perform unsatisfactorily, the school may be required to spend some of its funding on tutors for students, and may be subject to reorganization or takeover by the states Department of Education. Opponents of the NCLB Act argue that the requirements of the new law do not lead to a better education for students, and in fact may lead to them receiving a lesser one. Guisbond and Neill (2004) contend that NCLB places too much emphasis on standardized testing, which does not measure more qualitative factors such as social skills or citizenship. They also argue that the law in effect punishes schools for having low test scores, thus forcing the oft-mentioned phenomenon of teaching to the test 13 Public Law 107110
Bartholomew 22 (i.e. limiting classroom instruction to only what is measured by a states standardized exam) (Guisbond and Neill, 2004). No Child Left Behind also requires all students in the United States to be performing at grade level in reading and math by the 2013-14 school year, a goal widely considered to be unattainable (Guisbond and Neill, 2004). There are also concerns with the new law being an unfunded mandate. Although the federal government has provided additional monies to schools via Title I expenditures ($8.2 billion in 2002 to $11.6 billion in 2004), the consensus appears to be that these additional monies are insufficient to cover the cost of implementation (Imazeki and Reschovsky, 2004; Mathis, 2005; Caffrey, 2010). Furthermore, these costs are being absorbed by the states, despite a fairly ambiguous provision in the NCLB Act suggesting that Washington has to pay for the costs of complying with the new requirements (Caffrey, 2010). In sum, No Child Left Behind is widely regarded as a law with good intentions, but poor implementation. Returning to the state level, Odden and Picus (2008) also direct attention to a case from the Commonwealth of
Bartholomew 23 Kentucky: Rose v. Council for Better Education14 This case also began as one of fiscal inequity, but evolved into one of educational adequacy. Section 183 of the Kentucky Constitution states The General Assembly shall, by appropriate legislation, provide for an efficient system of common schools throughout the State. From this section, the Kentucky Court interpreted the word efficient to mean that schools in that state must also be effective. The Kentucky Supreme Court explicitly spelled out that a childs education must accomplish seven goals: (i) sufficient oral and written communication skills to enable students to function in a complex and rapidly changing civilization; (ii) sufficient knowledge of economic, social, and political systems to enable the student to make informed choices; (iii) sufficient understanding of governmental processes to enable the student to understand the issues that affect his or her community, state, and nation; (iv) sufficient selfknowledge and knowledge of his or her mental and physical wellness; (v) sufficient grounding in the arts to enable each student to appreciate his or her cultural and historical heritage; (vi) sufficient training or preparation for advanced training in either academic or vocational fields so as to enable each child to choose and pursue life work intelligently; and (vii) sufficient levels of academic or vocational skills to enable public school students to compete favorably with their counterparts in surrounding states, in academics or in the job market. [line breaks added] The Court then goes on to describe its interpretation of what an efficient system of schools would look like: ) The establishment, maintenance and funding of common schools in Kentucky is the sole responsibility of the General Assembly. 2) Common schools shall be free to all. 3) Common schools shall be available to all Kentucky children. 14 790 S.W.2d 186, 1989; normally shortened to Rose v. Council
Bartholomew 24 4) Common schools shall be substantially uniform throughout the state. 5) Common schools shall provide equal educational opportunities to all Kentucky children, regardless of place of residence or economic circumstances. 6) Common schools shall be monitored by the General Assembly to assure that they are operated with no waste, no duplication, no mismanagement, and with no political influence. 7) The premise for the existence of common schools is that all children in Kentucky have a constitutional right to an adequate education. 8) The General Assembly shall provide funding which is sufficient to provide each child in Kentucky an adequate education. 9) An adequate education is one which has as its goal the development of the seven capacities recited previously. Two of the items in the latter list should be highlighted. The fourth and fifth items suggest that, at least under Kentuckys law, all schools should offer roughly the same opportunities for students to learn, regardless of the area in which they live or the tax base of their school district. The Kentucky General Assembly, in response to this decision, came back with one of the most equitable systems of education finance seen to this point using a GTB system (Odden and Picus, 2008). Not only did the state legislature provide for generally equal per-pupil funding across the state, but individual schools and school districts received more discretion in how to spend the monies allocated to them (Odden and Picus, 2008). Since the Kentucky Supreme Court handed down its decision in 1989, the Commonwealths General Assembly has added free preschool programs for at-risk children (Ch. 157.3175,
Bartholomew 25 Kentucky Revised Statutes), differential funding perstudent based on a number of factors such as disabilities, transportation costs, and low-income students (Ch. 157.360, KRS), plus implementation of a standards-based statewide examination (Odden and Picus, 2008). Despite these reforms, Kentucky has only fared slightly better on various measures of educational outcomes, such as the ACT (Hoyt, n.d.). Clearly, dollars and cents are not the sole area in which reform is needed.
Bartholomew 26 Ancillary Data: Variation in Education Spending Between States As noted above, education is the responsibility of the states, not the federal government. While this paper is more concerned with variations in resource allocations between sub-units of state education systems (i.e. school districts/counties and individual schools), it is to be noted that states expend varying amounts per-pupil on education. Table 1 presents state-by-state per-pupil spending levels from the 2009-10 school year, along with the average 2010 ACT score and the percentage of high school graduates taking the ACT in 2010: Table 1: 2009-10 Per-pupil K-12 Education Spending, Average 2010 ACT Composite Score, and Percentage of High School Graduates taking 2010 ACT (by State) State Dollars Per-Pupil ACT Avg. % of H.S. grads taking ACT U.S. 10,600 21 47 AL 8,881 20.3 78 AK 15,783 21.1 28 AZ 7,848 20 28 AR 9,143 20.3 81 CA 9,375 22.2 22 CO 8,853 20.6 100 CT 14,906 23.7 24 DE 12,383 23 13 D.C. 18,667 19.8 29 FL 8,741 19.5 65 GA 9,394 20.7 44 HI 11,754 21.6 22 ID 7,106 21.8 60
Bartholomew 27 IL 11,634 20.7 100 IN 9,611 22.3 26 IA 9,763 22.2 60 KS 9,715 22 75 K Y 8,948 19.4 100 LA 10,638 20.1 98 ME 12,259 23.2 10 MD 13,738 22.3 18 MA 13,590 24 21 MI 10,644 19.7 100 MN 10,685 22.9 70 MS 8,119 18.8 96 MO 9,634 21.6 69 MT 10,497 22 58 NE 10,734 22.1 73 NV 8,483 21.5 30 NJ 12,383 23.7 17 NJ 16,841 23.2 17 NM 9,384 20.1 66 NY 18,618 23.3 27 NC 8,409 21.9 16 ND 10,991 21.5 81 OH 11,030 21.8 66 OK 7,896 20.7 73 OR 9,624 21.5 34 PA 12,995 21.9 17 RI 13,699 22.8 11 SC 9,143 20 52 SD 8,858 21.8 79 TN 8,065 19.6 100 TX 8,746 20.8 33 UT 6,064 21.8 71 VT 15,274 23.2 26 VA 10,597 22.3 22 WA 9,452 23 19 WV 11,527 20.7 64 WI 11,364 22.1 69 WY 15,169 20 100 Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 201215 and ACT, 2010 15 Downloaded from http://www.census.gov/govs/school/
Bartholomew 28 As we can see, the states have chosen to expend anywhere from the $6,000-7,000 range to upwards of $15,000 (with Washington, D.C. spending some $18,000+ per child). As for the ACT data, there is some positive correlation between per-pupil spending and the average ACT score, but there is some selection bias with regard to the test-takers. Six states require that all students take the ACT (thus likely lowering their average score), while in other areas ACT is taken primarily by college-bound students. Those desiring an equitable level of spending could make the argument for federalizing the K-12 education system (perhaps via Congress invoking the Interstate Commerce Clause). However, dissolving local control of schools would serve to make the process of policy evolution and response much slower due to the other burdens shouldered by the national government (and especially considering the partisan gridlock presently occurring). Leaving schools in local and state control can make the systems more responsive to the unique needs of each state and its economy, and accountable to its citizens. Furthermore, instituting federal control of education would likely require passage of an amendment to the Constitution overriding the Tenth Amendment in this area along with
Bartholomew 29 decades of stare decisis, which is an arduous process itself. Horizontal Inequities Within States Chapter 1 explained that money is expended unequally within states due to a number of factors (namely, property tax bases). Below is a sampling of data from the Education Law Center showing per-student expenditure in relation to a districts poverty rate: Table 2: Per-Student Spending by District Poverty Rate, Selected States State Overall Mean 0% Poverty 10% Poverty 20% Poverty 30% Poverty High/Low UT $6,586 $5,700 $6,539 $7,503 $8,608 151% NJ $17,115 $13,464 $15,060 $16,845 $18,841 140% KY $8,585 $8,531 $8,627 $8,724 $8,823 103% CA $9,774 $8,879 $8,974 $9,069 $9,166 103% NH $12,351 $13,113 $11,304 $9,745 $8,401 64% Source: Education /Law Center, 2010 As one can see, funding variations between areas continue to persist despite ongoing efforts to close these gaps.
Bartholomew 30 Chapter 2 Labor & Other Resources Despite substantial increases in public expenditure on education, there is significant debate over the effects16 of these dollars. This chapter reviews the trends of public expenditures on education, focusing on the majority portion of those costs: labor. A few pages will also be dedicated to school choice reforms, the physical capital of schools, and measuring the returns on education spending. Trends in Labor Expenditures and Quality The next question of a taxpayer might be Where is all of this money going? The answer is: primarily, to pay the salaries of those working in the schools, especially teacher salaries (Odden & Picus, 2008). Based in large part on figures from the U.S. Department of Educations Digest of Education Statistics 2010, there are some trends regarding this incredibly large piece of the school-finance pie: The ratio of students to teachers has fallen from 25:1 in 1960 to 15:1 in 2008, with a corresponding rise in 16 Achievement will generally be linked to scores on standardized tests, despite their flaws (described in Chapter 3)
Bartholomew 31 the number of teachers from a little less than 1.5 million to over 3 million during the same period During the 1959-60 school year, teachers were paid on average $36,491; by the 2007-08 school year, the average was $53,537 (all in 2008-09 dollars). Teachers holding a masters or specialists degree have been steadily on the rise, from 23.1% of teachers in 1961 to 60.4% of educators in 2006 Along with the lowering of the pupil-teacher ratio has been a significant rise in the number of overall staff members (including teachers) per student. In Fall 2008, there were 7.8 staff members per student compared to 9.2 in Fall 1990. (p. 126) The above statistics suggest that our nations schools have lowered student-teacher ratios paired with a rise in the number of educators, and that teachers have become increasingly better-trained. Despite being better-trained and their average real wage growing over time, Hanushek and Rivkin (1997) demonstrate that from 1940 to 1990 teacher salaries have lost significant ground to other college-educated persons in the workforce. For males, teachers earned more in salary than 52.5% of the non-teacher college-educated workforce in 1940 (i.e. male teachers earned in the 52nd
Bartholomew 32 percentile of college-educated male employees), a statistic which fell to only 36.5% in 1990. For females, the same statistics are 68.7% in 1940 versus 45.3% in 1990. Put more simply, educators have fallen from the second-highest quartile of college-educated salaries to the third-highest over the course of 50 years. This comparative reduction in salary makes teaching a less illustrious profession to enter, and will likely lead to a lower quality of educator. While it has been established above that teachers increasingly have higher levels of education than a simple bachelors degree, there is no correlating rise in student achievement despite having better-trained teachers. Ballou (1996) adds to this conundrum by pointing out that hiring of teachers is not necessarily connected to their academic prowess during training, and further notes that those educators who were high-performing or attended more selective schools tended to exit the profession of education at a higher rate. Guarino, et. al. (2006) further observe that most teacher turnover occurs at low-income, high-minority, and/or lowperforming schools and school districts. Teachers also play a major role in student achievement. Over a period of three school years in the late 1990s, three researchers analyzed the academic
Bartholomew 33 performance in mathematics on standardized tests of ninthgrade students in Chicago public schools, and found that teacher quality was one of the main factors in improving a given pupils performance (Aaronson, Barrow, and Sander, 2007). This research found that students with effective instructors could have, on average, scores that were 22% better than their peers with a lower-quality teacher. Furthermore, the three authors assessed the impacts of some discrete factors such as teacher experience and an instructors level of education (factors that ordinarily considered to have an effect on the quality of a teacher), and found only a loose correlation. One important correlation of note is that between a teachers years of experience and the socioeconomic level of a school. As discussed in Jepsen and Rivkin (2009), Californias class size-reduction program had an effect of pairing more inexperienced teachers with schools of lower desirability (e.g.,, those with high levels of minority and low-income students). Furthermore, non-certified educators were far more likely to be placed in low-income schools compared to schools serving those with higher incomes, thus moving better-qualified teachers from where they are likely to be needed most (Jepsen and Rivkin, 2009).
Bartholomew 34 Thus, we are left with an important series of questions: What makes for a high-quality teacher? How do we measure these variables? How do we then entice these high-quality educators to enter and remain in teaching? Numerous scholars have reviewed and attempted to answer the first two questions, to little avail. Only recently has research funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation begun to answer the second question (which will hopefully lead to answering the first question in due time). During a three school-year study period from 20092012 in seven school districts across the country, researchers for the Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) project gathered copious amounts of data. As part of the study, the researchers videoand audiorecorded and scored lessons using a number of different scales, surveyed students for feedback about their teacher, and measured student achievement using both state-mandated and more cognitively-challenging tests (Measures of Effective Teaching Project, 2013). The MET Project found that it was, in fact, possible to measure the effectiveness of a teacher. They found that a blended approach was necessary to obtain an accurate measurement, using a combination of standardized test scores, multiple observational evaluations, and feedback
Bartholomew 35 surveys from students. With regard to observations specifically, the research found that multiple, short evaluations (~15 minutes each) increased the reliability of measurement. Furthermore, scoring models for teacher effectiveness that placed less than 50% (but more than 33%) of the weight on standardized testing were found to be the most reliable. The work of the MET Project will continue: they are now in the process of creating a video library for use in professional development, and have made their database available for further research in the area. Hopefully, additional findings will be made in this area to more readily identify effective educators, and to improve the tradecraft of existing ones (Measures of Effective Teaching Project, 2013). On the front of training new teachers, there is a new approach pioneered by the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) known as the Fitness to Teach policy (FTT). The current (2012) incarnation of the policy defines six major areas in which teacher candidates in that schools program must meet expectations: Criminal History essentially, teachers must meet Texas state law requiring that they not have criminal convictions
Bartholomew 36 Academic Requirements a teacher candidate has to satisfactorily complete their coursework in a number of different areas Personal and Professional Requirements teacher candidates have to comply with educational privacy laws, have to show requisite interpersonal skills, and meet dress and hygiene Cultural and Social Attitudes and Behavior teachers must be respectful and have an open mind to beliefs other than their own, and must be able to work at an appropriate level with students Physical Skills a teacher candidate has to be physically capable of working in a classroom, with or without Americans with Disabilities Act accommodations Emotional Disposition a teacher has to be able to manage their stress, use sound judgment, and think analytically about both their work and new concepts presented to them (University of Texas at San Antonio, 2012) Not only does this policy lay out many of the basic requirements of being a teacher, it also demands that teachers accept constructive criticism and consider alternatives with an analytical mindset. In an article written by a Dean of UTSAs teacher program, all of the
Bartholomew 37 stakeholders in the policy (university faculty, mentor teachers, student teachers, and principals) expressed satisfaction with the Fitness to Teach Policy as a mechanism to not only have a standardized set of criteria, but also for providing regular reviews and creation of action plans to improve teacher candidates in areas in which they may be deficient (Desjean-Perrotta, 2006). If the foundations of UTSAs FTT policy were applied to active teachers (and possibly adjusted to reflect the findings of the MET Project), a fairly stable and more objective basis for evaluating an educators effectiveness in the classroom could be provided. As to the third question of enticement and retainment, one potential solution is forgiving a teachers student loan debt if they choose to practice in high-need subject areas and schools. The U.S. Department of Educations Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program entices educators who teach for five consecutive years at a Title I school with forgiveness of loans they incurred during their college education (Federal Student Aid, n.d.). However, by requiring that new teachers become part of the faculty at low-income schools, this well-meaning forgiveness program pairs inexperienced teachers with students who would likely benefit from having a more experienced instructor educating
Bartholomew 38 them. As we saw in the California case presented by Jepsen and Rivkin (2009), experienced teachers already selfdistribute themselves to schools with better working conditions and students; this program has a consequence of exacerbating that trend. Another approach to teacher retention that is being examined in many jurisdictions is performance or merit pay systems. By using this salary formula, policymakers attempt to more closely associate the value of a teachers work to the observable educational gains of their students. Hanushek (2007) provides a reasonably succinct description of the current state of affairs in both teacher recruitment and retention. He reiterates that we have not yet had much success in identifying the characteristics of good teachers (although this research is advancing), nor have we been able to implement a policy solution for retaining educators. The latter problem is quantified by Hanushek as one-third of new teachers leaving education by the end of their fifth year, with the highest exit rates again found in the schools with the lowest socioeconomic levels. The evidence also points to the above-noted relationship between inexperienced teachers and poorer schools (Hanushek, 2005).
Bartholomew 39 Despite complaints of incomplete data, Hanushek argues for teacher base salaries to come more into line with similarly-educated professionals (such as accountants) to both increase retention and to help elevate the teaching profession socially. He also finds that rewarding teachers for better performance of their students both at the individual classroom level and the school level would likely lead to better outcomes (Hanushek, 2005). Although the body of literature so far on performancepay incentives is somewhat small, it is growing. Podgursky and Springer (2007) found that most studies on the subject offered a positive correlation between student achievement and use of teacher pay incentives based on the same. Leigh (2012) likewise finds similar results, although two recent studies give pause. One, done in New York City, found that bonuses of up to 4% had negative but statistically insignificant effects, while another study done in Nashville, Tennessee schools offering an average bonus of 22% had positive yet also insignificant results on student achievement (Leigh, 2012). The Question of School Choice One of the more popular reform options is school vouchers. Under this system, parents are given control of an amount of funding by the government to expend on a
Bartholomew 40 private education for their child(ren) (Gruber, 2009). Such a system is touted by policymakers as a means by which to allow students to escape the failing public school system, while providing parents increased choice so as to improve their utility (Gruber, 2009). On a more macro level, Gruber and others17 suggest that vouchers increase pressure on the public-provision system to perform as compared to their private competitors. While such programs do not address the problem of public-school resource equity, they could be seen as providing a more equal opportunity to disadvantaged students. Vouchers have been tried in recent years in a few localities, namely Milwaukee, Chicago, and Florida (Gruber, 2009). In the case of Milwaukee, Rouse (1998) found that reading scores on the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills given to both the choice students and those attending traditional public schools showed roughly equivalent learning gains, while math scores were slightly better for those who attended a private school on voucher. However, more recent (2011) analyses by Cowenm, et. al. suggest that the results are more related to factors other than the vouchers. Other studies conducted in Cleveland, New York City, Washington, D.C., and Dayton, Ohio showed similar results: some gains, 17 see Gruber, 2009, p. 299
Bartholomew 41 but decidedly not the cure-all desired by policy makers (Carnoy, 2001). Another option offered by many localities is charter schools. Operating without many of the administrative hallmarks of traditional public schools, charter schools are generally paid for by the local school district but operated privately. Studies from across the nation show that charter schools have had anywhere from no effect on those that attend (Sass, 2004) to great learning gains over their public school peers (Abdulkadiroglu, Angrist, Dynarsk, Kane, & Patha, 2009). On a large scale, Hoxbys 2004 paper that included 99 percent of elementary school charter students found that charter schools provided a modest gain on average to their pupils. Both Sass (2004) and Hoxby (2004) found a positive correlation between the amount of time that a given charter school had been operating and the test scores of its charges. For Sasss study of Florida, it was also noted that charter schools focusing on special education students fared far poorer than their counterparts in public schools, although this may be explained by the fact that these types of charters focus on lessons not measured by standardized tests (pp. 20-21). Sass also noted an association between the
Bartholomew 42 opening of a charter school and a rise in test scores in both math and reading at nearby traditional public schools. Overall, private schooling paid for with vouchers seem to lend only minimal or no aid over traditional public schools, while charter schools show some promise. However, there are some significant concerns that must be considered when incorporating charter schools; namely, that they can take years to mature into institutions that provide a better education than what they are replacing. A Few Words on Physical Infrastructure New Jerseys Abbott II case describes some of the disparity in physical capital between poorer schools and richer schools in that state. For example, one betterendowed district in that state was able to offer one computer for every eight of its students, while a poorer one was only able to provide one computer per every 58 students. The Court describes some courses being taught in converted closets and boiler rooms, while more affluent schools districts have no such problems. Similar disparity was also noted by the New Jersey Supreme Court in areas such as science, foreign languages, the arts, and even vocational programs. These sorts of differences in physical capital only serve to enhance the inequities in the school system, and
Bartholomew 43 can discourage both teachers and students from realizing their full potential. Students cannot be reasonably expected to reach their full potential if theyre being educated in an environment that is inherently unsafe or in dire need of repair. Further, schools that do not offer sufficient courses aside from those teaching literacy and math skills will likely stifle and alienate their pupils. Stemming in part from the fiscal inequities, this physical capital disparity reinforces less-fortunate students worldviews, and stunts their intellectual growth. How to measure achievement? As described previously, the goal of education is multi-faceted. As a result of this, the manner in which the benefits of education are measured is also incredibly complex. On one hand, education is meant to impart knowledge and skills into the workforce during their formative years, ideally improving the quality of human capital and, by extension, enhancing a pupils later taxable income. On the other hand, academic achievement measured through tools such a standardized tests and comparisons to other countries attempt to directly measure a students knowledge and skills, and is used as a standardized medium to compare the achievement of both individual pupils and groups of students. However, measures
Bartholomew 44 of academic achievement do not always correlate to workforce productivity. In reviewing the United States system of K-12 education, it is difficult if not impossible to state with any decisiveness if the system is effective, efficient, or even accomplishing its goals. There are, however, some firm data points: Public school enrollment has risen from slightly more than 36 million in the 1959-60 school year to 49.3 million in the 2007-08 school year (Snyder and Dillow, 2011) Average per-pupil public expenditures on K-12 education, adjusted for inflation, has increased over 350% in the period 1961-2009 (Snyder and Dillow, 2011) The salaries of teachers have risen from $36,491 in 1959-60 to $54,819 in 2009-10, using constant 2008-09 dollars. During the same period, the student-teacher ratio in U.S. public schools has fallen from 25.8 in 1960 to 15.3 in 2008 (Snyder and Dillow, 2011) Achievement in reading and math, as measured by the U.S. Department of Educations National Assessment of Educational Progress, has been essentially stagnant since the early 1970s (Rampey, et. al., 2009)
Bartholomew 45 Those with more years of education go on to earn higher salaries. For example, adjusted to 2009 dollars, a male employee with a high school diploma earned a median of $42,180 in 1991 and $39,480 in 2009, while a male employee with a professional degree earned a median of $116,560 in 1991 and $123,420 in 2009 (Snyder and Dillow, 2011) Considering some of the above statistics, taxpayers are spending more (and more per student) on K-12 education despite little to no growth in academic achievement as demonstrated on a standardized test. Meanwhile, the returns on education demonstrated by ones salary level have increased, and the gaps between those levels have grown. Thus we are left with a mixed assessment of what is being achieved through the educational system: one the one hand, standardized test scores have been tepid at best, while on the other, those with more education are earning more than their less-educated counterparts. All the while, increasing amounts of taxpayer dollars are being allocated to a system that cannot be decisively be described as efficient or even successful, while being more accurately described as stagnant (as with test scores) or even failing
Bartholomew 46 (when considering the median salary of one who has just a high school diploma).
Bartholomew 47 Chapter 3 Policy Changes The last two chapters have presented a somewhat bleak picture of Americas public schools. The following are my suggestions of how to ameliorate some of the largest impediments to world-class achievement of our nations students: Change in Attitude While this first change is not necessarily a concrete policy proposal, it provides a grounding that could greatly benefit other reforms. The culture of public education needs an adjustment to better reflect a more dynamic, creative, and interesting environment for its young charges a collective state of mind that encourages innovation and values critical thinking. This changes needs to occur both in everyday classroom instruction and in the methods used for both initial training and ongoing professional development of educators. Recent reforms, such as NCLB, appear to have their bases in the business world. To the detriment of these policies, students are treated more as the end-products of their education, not as consumers of it education is not a model for mass-production, but instead one for
Bartholomew 48 customization. Though many students may share similar traits, every child is different. The public education system and the decision-makers who control the system must realize this fact, and work accordingly. For educational decision-makers, from classroom teachers up to the highest levels of government, a change in culture needs to follow this question: Is this action in the best interests of the students? Too often, it seems that change occurs not for the benefit of the students, but for the ease of the adults (for example, more reliance on multiple-choice tests and less emphasis of written-word answers). This must no longer be the case. Parents and families also have an important role outside the classroom that is all too often neglected. One impediment to reform, often spouted by teachers unions in response to proposals to tie pay to test scores, is that the classroom teacher cannot be responsible for what happens outside the classroom, and the effects of those externalities on a childs academic performance. The argument has some merit from both the qualitative and quantitative realms. While some of the root social causes (e.g., poverty) are beyond the scope of this thesis, this goal remains: Parents should feel a societal duty to support the educational endeavors of their children, and
Bartholomew 49 preferably from an early age. The state can further this goal with continued use of many existing policies (e.g., literacy initiatives, Head Start-type programs), and attempting others that may not have been previously considered (e.g. tax incentives for the purchase of books and school supplies). In many ways, I would hope that the perception of the public education system would become more akin to the respect shown to members of the military. We value, both socially and with tax dollars, a powerful military made up of the best personnel; why do we not also similarly value a strong corps of educators with the best minds? We equip our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines with excellent training and tools that are at the pinnacle of their field, yet we offer our educators variable-quality training and scattershot states of infrastructure ranging from solid to woefully or hazardously lacking. Ideally, our nation will achieve a system of public education that is revered both domestically and abroad, and consistently produces the finest minds in the known world. Fiscal Adjustments for Equity As shown in Chapter 1 and the Ancillary Data, there is difficulty at the local level with distribution of monies on a need-based, yet equitable, basis. Significant strides
Bartholomew 50 have been made (such as the GTB system), but further changes are needed to fully realize equality. A foremost concern is to stop using funding levels as punishment for low performance. For example, NCLB requires that schools expend funding on specific services (e.g. after-school tutors) if they fail to meet AYP, even if those services are not needed and/or go unused by the student population. Concurrently, giving high-achieving schools funding rewards (as in Florida18) only serves to reinforce the disparities between schools. Making rich schools richer and poor schools poorer is not a rational model for improving all schools. A model is needed that ensures each individual school receives the resources appropriate to its own deficiencies and needs, exclusive from the needs of other school centers. As described in the Abbott decisions, simple realdollar parity will not suffice. Fiscal equity based on the taxable property value of an area (e.g., the GTB system) is a great step forward, but ignores the expenditure side of the school finance equation as a consideration. Ideally, the focus should be shifted towards the identifying and prioritizing of needs at the school, classroom, and individual level. Mandates from 18 See Fla. Stat. .36, Florida School Recognition Program
Bartholomew 51 state capitals and the Federal government might be right for some schools, but only serve to hinder the efforts of others again, education is not and never will be a onesize-fits-all proposition. Thus, I propose a model combining the dollars follow the child mantra of school-choice advocates and the model exemplified by Kentucky where funding choices are at the school level, as opposed to the district or state level. State and local governments must both set funding for their education systems at a high level and allow the professionals (teachers and local school administrators) to make informed decisions on what needs to be funded. The school districts and state education departments can then make tangible resource procurements more accurately, and assimilate common needs to achieve bulk-order savings. This model can also be applied to personnel and noninstructional materials. Again, the goal is to achieve equitable distribution of resources based on identifiable and articulated needs, so as to further all students and not primarily those who are lucky enough to live in a prosperous school district. If anything, this system would point towards a more progressive funding model based on poverty and other risk
Bartholomew 52 factors the less well-off a school and its students are, the more resources it receives to combat underachievement. Changes to Teacher Incentives Great students demand great teachers. However, the recruitment and retention of instructors that have the skills necessary to produce excellent graduates requires that teacher compensation be reviewed with a keen eye. On the recruitment front, further investigation is needed to better identify what characteristics make for excellent educators. Once a more concrete answer to What makes a great teacher? is found, recruitment efforts can be better targeted upon those who have those traits. Justice Potter Stewarts I know it when I see it standard shouldnt be applied to those who are entrusted with the education of our youth. Chapter 2 demonstrated that teachers are one of the lowest-paid professions requiring a college degree to enter, and it continues to lag behind. This fact creates a major hurdle for those trying to find and keep our best teachers in the classroom. Teachers should be paid at a level that better reflects their value to society. While an across-the-board increase to base pay is certainly a necessity, rewarding the best educators through bonuses or a merit system of pay is hotly debated. On
Bartholomew 53 one hand, such a system would reward and incentivize the best teachers and could drive more average teachers to perform at a higher level. On the flip side, many questions remain over how to formulate such a system, which would likely rely in part on scores achieved by students through standardized testing. Further questions arise when considering what, if any, additional compensation is granted to non-classroom personnel or those who teach in non-tested areas. Based on these arguments, the findings of the MET Project, and some positively-correlated data, a better teacher-pay system might look something like this: Increased overall base pay, aligned with other college-educated professions in the local area Additional compensation for proven teachers working with disadvantaged student populations (e.g., Title I schools, high percentage of special needs and/or nonEnglish speakers) A merit-pay scheme, equally-weighted upon and using the following criteria: Random and unbiased in-class evaluations (described below) Student achievement as measured by standardized testing
Bartholomew 54 Parental and student evaluations The goal of any merit-pay system is to reward those employees who excel at their job, preferably on discrete measurable characteristics (e.g., sales). Unfortunately, measuring the effectiveness of a teacher is nearly impossible due to the human element inherent in the field of education, and that the results of ones education are borne out over decades. This proposed system is based in major part on the findings of the MET Project. In order for this proposal to work, however, there are some crucial details that need to be fulfilled. First, clear expectations for teacher conduct need to be set and communicated adequately, both at the training level (as with UTSAs Fitness to Teach policy) and to those already in the profession. These standards will ideally be based on solid, long-term research (provisions for which are made below). Second, as per the MET Projects recommendation, evaluations should be unannounced, and multiple observations done for each teacher. In-class evaluations should be done by trained personnel, and externally audited and moderated by the standard-setting authority19. The results of each 19 This is similar to the model used for International Baccalaureate (IB) internal assessments. Students complete an assessment, it is
Bartholomew 55 evaluation should then be discussed with the teacher, so that they can address and develop their skills in the area(s) identified as needing improvement. A common concern regarding any sort of test-based merit pay is how to effectively reward those educators who dont teach a tested subject and other non-instructional staff who might also contribute to student success. Examples of these potentially-key resources include the music teacher who helps certain students unlock the mysteries of math class, or the guidance counselor who provides pivotal advice and support to the struggling pupil. Ideally, personnel falling into this category would be rewarded similarly to their coworkers in tested subjects, but at a slightly lower rate. Another major hurdle to consider is due process. Teachers may be concerned (and sometimes rightly so) about the effects of office politics negatively affecting their evaluations. The system needs to ensure that poor educators are removed from the classroom swiftly, while protecting the good teachers who have something go wrong. This is in part where the external auditing comes in, but graded by the trained teacher according to the rubric, and the IB central office randomly audits the student's work and the teachers grade to ensure compliance. Note also that this system will likely require some sort of investment in recording equipment for creation of a reviewable record.
Bartholomew 56 teachers should be able to request an audit if there is a concern. It may also be desirable for additional incentives to be offered to teachers who choose to work in underprivileged schools, which have historically experienced problems with attaining desired levels of achievement. Ideally, teachers who have proven their work to be superior at less at-risk schools would be offered an incentivized position teaching at a more needy school, thus leading to a more positive and need-equitable allocation of instructional resources. Curriculum Changes In addition to great teachers, an update to the curriculum is called for. While what students are taught has evolved and changed over time, some further adjustments would likely prove beneficial. While it is true that computers and technology are increasingly making appearances in classrooms, it seems likely that their use will only increase as time goes on. Thus, it is imperative that students emerge from their educational experience with the requisite technical skills to be competitive in the workforce. So far as subject-specific alterations to the curriculum, progress is already being made by the states.
Bartholomew 57 The Common Core State Standards Initiative (Common Core), joined thus far by 45 states, is still in development but shows promise. Standards are created through a collaborative process of teachers, content experts, and other education professionals, and are followed by a public comment period. In addition to how they are developed, Common Core will likely have the added benefit of making a students change of schools more seamless, even across state borders. Common Core is also limited to the development of standards, not how those standards should be taught hopefully diminishing the complaint that the current system requires teaching to the test. There must also be recognition in policy of the fact that education cannot always be measured quantitatively. The field of education has a large dose of the human element that is difficult for policymakers to account for. Schools provide both knowledge and a common center of youth development, including social and civic development. A School Calendar for the 21st Century One pressing change that needs to be made is to the school calendar. The extended summer break arising from the century-old compromise between rural and urban school calendars is no longer appropriate, and only serves to offer some of the most needy students a full three months
Bartholomew 58 for their knowledge base to atrophy (Johnson & Spradlin, 2007; Cooper, 2003). A multitude of options exist to rectify the problem, including simply adding days to the school year and/or the division & shifting of vacations on the calendar, but only a small number of localities have thus far implemented an alternative calendar (Johnson & Spradlin, 2007). Schools, for the most part, currently sit idle for four months per year during winter and summer breaks. Two basic methods exist for changing this: single-track and multi-track (Johnson & Spradlin, 2007). Under a singletrack year-round calendar, all students attend school at the same time as they do under both the traditional and add more days plans, but with a set ratio of contiguous school days to contiguous vacation days (Johnson & Spradlin, 2007). By contrast, a multi-track system results in students being divided into groups which receive equivalent school/vacation day ratios, but take them at offsetting times (Johnson & Spradlin, 2007). This system creates separate schools-within-a-school, similar in many regards to differing work shifts20. The multi-track plan has also been used to reduce the need for construction of 20 This system can be compared to the system employed on transoceanic flights, which often fly with three or more pilots to comply with crewrest regulations and to minimize fatigue.
Bartholomew 59 new schools in rapidly-expanding school districts, due to the fact that up to 25% of the student population does not attend school at any given time, thus reducing the need for classroom space by an equivalent amount (Johnson & Spradlin, 2007). Currently, it can be asserted using the work of Cooper (2003) that taxpayers are actually getting only about 160 days of education per student despite paying for 180 due to the educational losses suffered by students over the long summer break. By implementing changes to the school schedule that remove this three-month hiatus, policymakers will diminish or eliminate the summer learning loss phenomenon, and possibly add the equivalent of a year to a students education (13 years from kindergarten to 12th grade, multiplied by one month). Adding additional school days will impose more cost on the taxpayer than simply adjusting how the school year is distributed during the calendar year21. Silva (2007) provides the reader with OECD data showing the United States offering only 799 hours of instructional hours annually, compared to top-rated Finlands 861 and secondranked Koreas whopping 1,079 (see Table 2, below). 21 In Minnesota, the cost of adding 25 days (175 days to 200) was estimated at $750 million, while a Massachusetts proposal required a 20% perstudent expenditure increase of $1,300 (Silva, 2007, p. 8)
Bartholomew 60 Patall, Cooper, and Allen, in their 2010 meta-analysis of some 15 substantive studies on extending the school day, suggest some benefit to a students education, especially for at-risk students. Table 3: PISA Ranking of Various Countries with Instructional Hours per Year PISA Math Ranking (of 29) Country Instructional Hours per Year 1 Finland 861 2 Korea 1079 3 Netherlands 911 4 Japan 926 24 United States 799 25 Portugal 889 26 Italy 884 27 Greece 806 28 Turkey 825 Reproduced from Silva (2007), p. 5; based on data from OECD All of this being said, extraordinary care must be taken in implementing these policies. One question that must be considered is how efficiently the new time will be used: will there be more quality academic learning time leading to actual absorption of knowledge, or are we running the risk of adding instructional time without the benefit of transferring knowledge to pupils? (Silva, 2007, pp. 2-4) Part of ensuring that knowledge is transferred
Bartholomew 61 effectively, regardless of the amount of instructional time, includes having effective and engaging teachers, something schools with lower-income students struggle to do (Silva, 2007; Jepsen and Rivkin, 2009). Educational R&D Many of the reforms proposed above are well-grounded in academic research, but significantly more work needs to be done. Some of the most important questions posed in this paper have yet to be answered, among them What qualities denote an excellent teacher? and Is there a better way to more accurately measure the success of our students? These questions, and many others, require resources that are only available at the higher levels of government. Thus, my final proposal is to bolster the researching and development of educational practices through the U.S. Department of Education. The Deputy Secretary of Education currently has an office that is established for this purpose: the Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII). Ideally, Congress would provide direction and funding for the OII to become both a clearinghouse for educational data22, a repository for best practices discovered by 22 Provided, of course, that the requisite data is collected at the local level and shared with OII. The funding of data collection and/or
Bartholomew 62 educators nationwide, and a source of funding for investigators seeking to unlock the mysteries of education. By attaching the implementation of sound research principles to funding while also providing unparalleled access to a vast majority of the nations classrooms, it is possible to streamline and dramatically improve the quality of research in the field of education. Much like R&D budgets in the private sector, the expenditure on these efforts would likely have a high multiplier effect that can then be further amplified by the multiplier effect of public education. The work of philanthropic organizations (such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) and various academic research institutions is useful, but pairing their efforts with Federal-level resources would likely catapult the progress of their investigatory efforts to previouslyunknown heights. The recommendations made in Chapter 3 draw from a broad range of educational sub-fields in an attempt to provide a more robust and effective public education system. compelling states and localities to forward relevant data is a necessary consideration.
Bartholomew 63 Conclusion This paper has described many of the disparities found in the K-12 education system of the United States. The history of fiscal inequities has been detailed, and attempts to close those differences have been explained and explored. The importance of non-monetary resources, especially labor units (i.e. teachers) has been highlighted, and the effects on achievement noted. The final chapter drew out several suggestions for correcting the problems revealed in the first two chapters. In sum, the United States has schools that vary greatly in quality. The variation is due in major part to the amount of resources that each school and school district can rally from local, state, and federal sources. Massive stride have been made towards supplying resources to education equally within states. The problem is the governments and taxpayers are not fulfilling resource demands from the public schools. The goal should be 100% of resource demands met, not absolute equality of supplies or funding given. Well-established economic principle tells us that education yields incredible long-term benefit, both for the individual and the economy. Like roads and utility lines,
Bartholomew 64 education is a part of a nations infrastructure, although its not nearly as obvious or tangible. Much as the United States many public works projects of the past century are now decaying and being modernized; so too must the nations educational systems and facilities. Political figures regularly make statements decrying the loss of innovative forces in the U.S. economy, or bemoaning the brain drain of young minds departing for other lands. A wise first step to ending these problems is the placement of additional resources, fiscal and otherwise, into public education, nourishing the young minds that will eventually perpetuate and reinvigorate the United States. These are not the first words about public education, nor will they be the last. By its nature, the craft of education and the public policy surrounding it is perpetually evolving. It is hoped that the ideas presented in this paper provokes discourse, action, and further ideas to achieve a better tomorrow.
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