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funding – edu|FOCUS
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funding Tag

2016-2017: Education Advocacy Priorities in Texas

Last week we took a look at the education-related issues that the Texas legislature is likely to touch upon in the upcoming session, and noted that the vast majority of legislation eventually passed in session has been discussed and/ or debated in the interim. That makes advocacy extremely important, both in bringing issues to light and shaping the discussion around the issues at hand. Recently in Texas, local nonprofits have begun to partner together to advocate more effectively. Some of the major players in the DFW area are the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, which provides funding to numerous organizations across the city, Early Matters Dallas, a coalition focused on early childhood education that partners with its sister organization in Houston, the Dallas Regional Chamber, which represents local businesses in advocating for, in particular, talent attraction, and many other local nonprofits which have their own advocacy priorities. All nonprofits and education-focused organizations can benefit, or suffer, from legislation passed by the state, and many either advocate individually or partner with other organizations in order to share their opinions with legislators. Notable advocacy priorities for the upcoming legislative session in Texas include: *Pre-k funding and quality      Early Matters Dallas and Early Matters Houston partner together to advocate in Austin; together, they represent 1/4 of the students in Texas. Maintaining the current level of pre-K funding, and ideally increasing it, is a huge priority for many education advocates across the state. In the last session, pre-K funding was a one-time fund, rather than built into the budget, so advocates expect to have to fight to maintain that level of funding this session. Quality of pre-K is also a priority-- 80 percent of eligible four year olds attend pre-K, but only 55 percent are kindergarten ready. *Increasing college readiness      College readiness is often measured by the ACT/ SAT scores needed to get into college. Education advocates are concerned that too many students are getting to college without the skills they need to be successful in their classes and eventually graduate. Increasing college readiness (by improving high school education, providing SAT prep and wraparound services at the college level) is a huge topic of discussion at the moment. *Child health and wellness      Increasing funding for children’s and family services is another area that advocates are focused on. The Texas Home Visiting Program, for example, provides important coaching services to families in their own homes, and could expand to serve more families with increased funding. By joining together, many of these organizations are able to make their voices heard by those who have the power to influence these important issues, often through the state budget approval process. In the next legislative session, each organization will be watching to see how their efforts to improve education in Texas will be impacted. The biggest issue on the table is pre-K, but many other issues beyond those mentioned here will impact local nonprofits— and more importantly, local students....

Another Charter Management Company nightmare

The link below points to an investigation by @WFLA 8 in Florida around Newpoint Education Partners, who is accused of creating bogus loans using taxpayer dollars. The issues in Florida are an indicator of a larger issue in our country where the average charter management company puts profits first, ahead of students or even taxpayers. The issues around a lack of general accountability, transparency, and efficiency are hallmarks of charter school management organizations, which are for-profit entities determined to turn public education in a system of haves and have-nots. @WFLA's investigation actually resulted in several school districts distancing themselves from Newpoint but only after losses to the community's public schools. Read the investigation and see the video by WFLA's Mark Douglas by clicking here. When you check out the article, the one thing I think will stand out to you, that stood out to me, was the fact that the San Jose school board paid Newpoint a staggering $500,000 per year the last 3 years as an "annual fee. An annual fee...

Education should be our #1 topic in 2016

As we go into a new year new challenges will come to the forefront for our evolving American society and education should be our #1 topic in 2016. There will be a Presidential election, amongst others, and the country will enter into yet another year of toxic testing, corporate-led educational reforms, and declining school quality due to continued budget cutbacks and charter school lobbying. I for one, am hoping beyond all hope that education is at the forefront in 2016...

The Charter School Debate

Charter schools were in their infancy during the bulk of my grade school career, so I basically only had the choice of public or private (there weren't any magnet schools in the nearby area) when it came to my education.  My parents chose to keep my siblings and me in public school, even though the school district as a whole was/is not the best.  My elementary and middle schools were fantastic, mainly because they were located in the most suburban parts of the district (as opposed to the borough), and were the smallest, enrollment-wise, out of all the other elementary and middle schools.  There was only one high school, however, where all the students of the area - upper-middle, middle, and lower-class, came together and drove statistics crazy from all the variation.  That being said, I think the education I received was quality enough to get me to the next stage of my life in college. I was considered a “smart” kid, so I went to a proportionately challenging university that happened to be a private school.  But there were other students in my classes who went to public and state schools and were just as, if not more, challenged by their curriculum.  So if we’re measuring outcomes, I have friends who graduated from both private and public universities who vary in their job satisfaction/success rates, therefore making the whole private versus public institution debate a bit meaningless in my circle.  Not to mention the fact that there were kids who weren’t great students who didn’t go to college and went straight into working, or went the trade route, and consider themselves successful/satisfied with their life choices as well. So going back to grade school, I also know of people who went to private schools in the area that received an education that wasn’t so different from my own public one, in that their test scores and overall education levels weren’t outrageously better or worse than our results.  But that’s in the suburbs.  There are many schools in the nearby Philadelphia area that were/are much worse financially, statistically, and morally, where students aren’t so fortunate to have a stable environment conducive to learning.  And the sad fact is most of those schools are public, located in the poorest parts of the city, and populated by minorities.  So naturally, parents who cared would have wanted to send their children to a well-funded private school if they had the financial resources and availability of such institutions nearby. That leads us to the present day, where charter schools are gaining popularity with families who want that private school experience for their children, but are “stuck” in a place where their only option is an under-performing public school.  I completely understand the appeal of charter schools, and agree that they sound like a good idea in theory (and sometimes in practice, too).  But like most business dealings and investments, the more money and effort put in, the better the results that come out, and education is unfortunately another business deal in this...

The trickle down effect of school turnover

For educators and parents alike, there can sometimes seem a great divide between what happens in an actual school building and what’s going on behind the scenes at a leadership level. School boards, superintendents- even working within a school it’s easy to forget that these levels are operating out there independently. In Dallas these worlds crash together more often than not, as for the past three years the city has had a superintendent who is very hands on and often the source of change....


Can Everyone Get Equal Opportunities?

In light of recent events I’m going to take a minute to talk about something most of us avoid on a regular basis: race. More specifically, racial bias and inequality. It’s naïve, and frankly, foolish to think that racism no longer exists in this world, let alone this country. Everyone may not experience it all the time and in the same ways, but there are countless others who do. Even small things like a woman clutching her purse a little tighter when walking past a black man, or assuming that the Hispanic-looking girl in your class speaks fluent Spanish, or assuming that the white person in line at Starbucks has no idea what it’s like living on minimum wage all fall under the umbrella of racism. No one is saying that those people will automatically think violently against anyone else, but they are trained to think a certain way about certain people without any personal experiences to reference. The problem comes when those who are faced with adversity have no idea how to deal with it, and being called out for racist thinking automatically leads to the wrong kind of over-defensive backpedaling. If the recent protests and riots against police brutality in America have taught us anything, it’s that racial tensions are still high as ever, people of minority races (but predominantly black) feel misrepresented and unfairly persecuted, and that media coverage is still one of the biggest manipulative, driving forces in how people react and form opinions on the situation. It’s also important to note that while there are riots happening as a result of the anger felt toward being a misrepresented minority, there are also peaceful protests and dialogues happening at the same time. Both groups are hoping for the same goal of fairness and equality, it’s just the means of getting there that differ. And it’s the media coverage that we see on the news that shapes our perceptions on how things are really happening outside of our own little worlds. I believe this works the same way for the education reform movement. I think it’s safe to assume that all people want the same goal when it comes to education for our children: that all students have an opportunity to learn everything they can from educators who are passionate about teaching in a place that caters to the individual needs of each student regardless of who they are or where they come from. But it’s the constant back and forth between politicians, educators, and businessmen that stops this from becoming a reality. There doesn't seem to be a disconnection in communication when it comes to expressing the ultimate goal for education, just in the practice of making things happen as they should. In an article written by NEA president Lily Eskelsen Garcia, she expresses a desire for an “Opportunity Dashboard” that draws attention to different districts’ access to things like advanced coursework, qualified teachers, and specialized support, in order for better accountability for poor academic performance. In other words, instead of the...

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