Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: State Cuts to Higher Education Threaten Access and Equity


The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities just released its annual update on state funding for higher education. In 45 states, state funding per-student in public four-year and two-year colleges and universities remains below what it was before the Great Recession a decade ago. The only exceptions are California, Hawaii, North Dakota, and Wyoming. Thirty-one states cut higher education funding in the past year.

Here is the report’s overall conclusion: “A decade since the Great Recession hit, state spending on public colleges and universities remains well below historical levels. Overall state funding for public two-and four-year colleges in the school year ending in 2018 was more than $7 billion below its 2008 level, after adjusting for inflation. In the most difficult years after the recession, colleges responded to significant funding cuts by increasing tuition, reducing faculty, limiting course offerings, and in some cases closing campuses.  Funding has rebounded slightly since…

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Stunning New Book Contextualizes Tragedy of 2013 School Closures in Chicago’s Hyper-Segregated History

New Orleans. Detroit. Chicago. Just to name three.
Sometimes the excuse is a hurricane. Other times it’s a series of storms coming in fits and starts. And then it takes time, like a slow and steady
erosion as in, drip, drip, drip.


Eve Ewing’s new book, Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago’s South Side, explores the blindness, deafness, and heartlessness of technocratic, “portfolio school reform”* as it played out in 50 school closings in Chicago at the end of the school year in 2013. After months of hearings, the Chicago Public Schools didn’t even send formal letters to the teachers, parents and students in the schools finally chosen for closure.  People learned which schools had finally been shut down when the list was announced on television.

Eve Ewing, a professor in the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration and a former teacher in one of the closed schools, brings her training as a sociologist to explore this question: “But why do people care about these failing schools?” (p. 13)  In four separate chapters, Ewing examines the question from different perspectives: (1) the meaning for the…

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DeVos Doles Out $399 Million to Charter Schools and Charter Organizations

Diane Ravitch's blog

Politico reports the latest federal handouts for charter schools and charter advocacy organizations, as well as to state agencies.

There is no sector of American education less in need of federal funding than charter schools. They have the support of the nation’s largest philanthropies—think Bill Gates, the Walton family, Eli Broad, Michael Bloomberg, Reed Hastings, etc.—as well as abundant gifts from the financial industry and individual billionaires.

Among the federal grants was $2.4 million to the California Charter Schools Association, the richest lobby in the state, which fights any legislative efforts to establish accountability and prohibit conflicts of interest and self-dealing.

Betsy DeVos has put the Trump administration strongly behind charter schools. The Trump administration puts no money into establishing ethical standards or financial oversight for charters. They pretend to want a “free market,” but free markets are not subsidized by the federal government. In a free market, businesses make…

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How School Choice in Michigan Accelerates Student Mobility, Stresses Educators, and Undermines Education


Yesterday this blog examined how two school choice policies in Michigan—the rapid expansion of charter school choice and cross-district open enrollment that allows students to leave their school district and enroll in a nearby school district—are together undermining the fiscal viability of Michigan’s public school districts. Here, thanks to a collaboration between Chalkbeat, Bridge Magazine, and the Detroit Free Press is the story of how these very same policies are undermining teaching and learning in the Detroit Public Schools.

Reporters Erin Einhorn and Chastity Pratt Dawsey describe how cross-district and charter school choice are accelerating student churn as children change schools again and again.  In Detroit, the subject of the article, student mobility is also exacerbated by homelessness and foreclosure and other challenges posed by extreme poverty across the school population. But there is an additional factor: Detroit is part of a network of so-called “portfolio school districts”

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How Can School Choice Destroy the Public Schools in Your Community?


In his column last week for the Education Opportunity Network, Jeff Bryant examines a scary question: Can school choice create the conditions that entirely shut down a community’s public school system?  Bryant reports on Michigan where school choice laws permitting inter-district open enrollment and unregulated expansion of charter schools conspire with the state’s school finance system to undermine the stability of the state’s public school districts.

“In Michigan, the intense competition for students is taking bigger bites out of student enrollments in some of the state’s largest districts.  In Flint, where there are 14,325 public-school students living in the district, 39 percent attend charters and 32 percent are enrolled in another district—meaning the district loses 71 percent of its students.  In Pontiac, with 10,985 public-school students living in the district, 36 percent attend charters and 29 percent travel to other districts, leaving local schools with only 35 percent of the…

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What to Do to Support Students Who Are Chronically Absent from School?


Two new reports—from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) and from Attendance Works—explore chronic student absenteeism and its consequences for student achievement and graduation.  Under the Every Student Succeeds Act, states must begin reporting data about students’ chronic absence in their accountability reports.  Attendance Works even posts an online interactive map from the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution where a person can find chronic absence data about one’s own school district.

Chronic absenteeism is defined as students missing not just days but also weeks of school.  Attendance Works defines chronic absenteeism as, “missing 10 percent of school—the equivalent of two days every month or 18 days over a 180-day school year.”  While all school districts record students’ absences from school, until recent years most have not tracked each individual student’s accrued absences over the semester or the school year. Now school districts are required to watch and intervene when…

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Office of Inspector General Again Condemns U.S. Department of Education’s Oversight of Federal Charter School Dollars

Thanks for this post Jan. I wish it wasn’t so, but it seems as though George Carlin was right…”Nobody Seems To Notice, Nobody Seems To Care …” Thanks for noticing. Thanks for caring.


For many good reasons, we are prone to blame Betsy DeVos, our current U.S. Secretary of Education, for weakening regulations in the Department of Education.  She has, for example, eliminated regulations designed to protect student borrowers from predatory for-profit colleges and cut back civil rights enforcement in the public schools.  But a new report from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) once again disparages Arne Duncan, and his lax oversight of federal dollars flowing to charter schools.  The new report documents that when charter schools have closed or been shut down, the Department has failed to ensure that federal dollars flowing to the schools from Title I, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and the federal Charter Schools Program were properly tracked. Further, students’ records from the closed schools were not properly protected.

The report condemns a trend of poor oversight: This is the third major…

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Journalist’s Resource –   Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center:  Talking About Guns

One year ago, a gunman opened fire on a crowd of concertgoers in Las Vegas, killing 58 people and injuring hundreds more. It was the deadliest mass shooting in American history, and it fueled the ongoing debate about gun policy in the United States.

In the weeks leading up to the Nov. 6 midterm elections, we’ll be covering some of the controversial issues that divide the nation. It’s safe to say that guns are divisive.

More than four in 10 U.S. adults live in a gun-owning household, and nearly five in 10 say they grew up with guns in the home, according to 2017 survey data from Pew Research Center. Some 44 percent of Americans say they personally know someone who has been shot, either deliberately or accidentally, according to Pew’s report, “America’s Complex Relationship with Guns.”

Yet many journalists seem to have trouble relating to people who own or use guns. “In my experience of training thousands of journalists over 20 years, I often ask them how many own a gun or have never fired a gun,” Al Tompkins, a senior faculty member at The Poynter Institute who teaches journalists how to cover guns, told Journalist’s Resource’s managing editor in an e-mail this week. “The overwhelming majority of the people I have asked that, by a wide margin, have not held or fired a weapon and they say they do not like guns.”

If you’re covering guns, at the very least, it’s important to get the terminology right. Regardless of the story, a lot of people will notice reporting errors — such as when journalists mistakenly call cartridges “bullets” or incorrectly state that all automatic weapons are banned. That’s why we’ve published a tip sheet for reporting on guns, developed with help from our friends at The Trace and a reporter who covered crime at the Orlando Sentinel for 25 years. We’ve also gathered research to help reporters consider how they cover gun owners.

Finally, our latest research roundup looks at the issue of gun storage from a public health perspective. Among the findings: Approximately 4.6 million children in the U.S. live in homes in which at least one firearm is stored loaded and unlocked.

Below you’ll find more details about and links to those pieces, as well as the opportunity to share them.

Yours in knowledge,

Carmen Nobel, program director of Journalist’s Resource 


Who stores guns safely?

Households with guns have a higher likelihood of gun injury. Research indicates that around 7 percent of children in the United States live in homes with at least one loaded, unlocked firearm, which is more than twice as high as a previous estimate from 2002. Safe storage practices can help to limit unauthorized users’ access to firearms. This roundup features research that puts numbers to firearm storage trends in the U.S.
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7 things you should know about guns

We teamed up with two reporters who know a lot about firearms to create a tip sheet that briefs journalists on basic terminology and warns them about some of the pitfalls of covering gun issues.
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How the media portray gun owners

We’ve gathered research to help journalists consider how they cover a group with whom many may have trouble relating: gun owners and people who use firearms. Research suggests the news media doesn’t present a complete picture of gun-owning Americans and may be silencing perspectives that would show gun ownership in a more favorable light.
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Rick Hess’s Mistake: Failure of Test-and-Punish Is Not Limited to a Few Districts That Have Disappointed

And my own particular pet peeve is the deliberate and intentional misuse of the words “basic, proficient and advanced” — specifically “proficient” which the public is led to believe means at or even “below grade level.” Thieves and liars. Liars and thieves.


Frederick M. Hess, the director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, has always been a corporate education reform kind of guy. That is why Hess’s honest analysis this week of the ultimate fraud of a succession of school district miracles—Washington, D.C.’s test score and graduation rate miracle under Michelle Rhee and those who followed her, Alonzo Crim’s Atlanta in the 1980s, Houston’s Texas Miracle under Rod Paige, Arne Duncan’s Chicago, and Beverly Hall’s Atlanta—is so refreshingly candid.

In all of these cases, as Hess points out, there was “a remarkable dearth of attention paid to ensuring that the metrics (were) actually valid and reliable.”  Second, it was “tempting for civic leaders and national advocates to accept happy success stories at face value—especially when they (were) fronted by a charismatic superintendent.” And finally “reformers and reporters (made) things worse with their lust for ‘celebrity superintendents’ and ‘model systems.’…

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Journalist’s Resource:    Research on today’s news

Local news and civic accountability: 5 questions for Setti Warren

Setti Warren, the former mayor of Newton, Massachusetts, is now the executive director of the Shorenstein Center. We sat down with him to get his thoughts on what happens to a community when there aren’t journalists covering city hall. “We are in danger  ,” he said.

Toxic waste sites and environmental justice: Research roundup

Often, those most at risk of living near toxic waste sites are low income or racial or ethnic minorities. Over the past few decades, researchers have looked into exactly where these sites are located, and the demographics of neighboring communities. Check out the latest scholarship.

7 ways to access academic research for free

Journalists sometimes have trouble finding the research they need because many academic journals keep the published work of scholars and research organizations behind paywalls. This new tip sheet
 outlines seven ways reporters can get access to that knowledge without spending any money.

Reporting on immigration? Choose your sources responsibly

Define American is a nonprofit media and culture organization working to change the narrative about immigration in the United States. Their latest campaign, #SourcesMatter, pushes the news media to reconsider the ways they achieve balance

in stories on immigration. The main message of the campaign: Choose your sources responsibly.