School Finance

Yesterday was the first day of public testimony on Governor Kasich’s budget proposal before the Ohio House Finance Primary and Secondary Education Committee. Terry submitted testimony on behalf of the Fordham Institute, as did Students First and others.  Following is a good recap from Gongwer News Service:

Terry Ryan, vice-president for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, offered support for the budget, saying the funding offered through the formula would outpace that of almost every other comparable state in FY 14. He also offered suggestions for use in the budget or as the subjects of future legislation.

Firstly, he said all dollars should follow students to the schools they actually attend, but funding is still stuck in categorical programs and flows to the district but not necessarily the building attended.

Mr. Ryan also called for annual academic return on investment reporting for all public schools, both districts and charters. "Just as some districts are more productive than others so are some schools and these should be acknowledged and better understood," he said.

More mandates related to regulations, laws and contract should be eliminated if they force funds to be spent in certain ways in all schools regardless of student characteristics. He said the flexibilities of the Cleveland Plan should be expanded to all districts.

Like the administration, Mr. Ryan said the state should move away from hold harmless provisions and guarantees "that provide funding to districts for phantom students."...

Categories: 

Terry Ryan offered written testimony to the Ohio House Finance Primary and Secondary Education subcommittee today. Testifying in support of Governor Kasich’s Achievement Everywhere school reform plan, Terry outlined four reasons that the Buckeye State should support the Kasich plan (testimony can be downloaded here): Governor Kasich’s plan

  1. Calls for new investments in public schools. In fact, it seeks an increase in K-12 funding of nearly 10 percent over two years. This is generous in tough fiscal times.
  2. Recognizes the need for getting at, and reporting on, Academic Return on Investment (ROI).
  3. Promotes innovations and innovators through its Straight-A fund.
  4. Removes some of the shackles off educators. Specifically, under the proposed “Free to Advance” provisions some regulations will be lifted so districts and schools can make more effective use of state dollars.

In addition, Terry also offered five recommendations to improve the Kasich education plan:

  1. Get all dollars to follow kids to the schools they actually attend.
  2. Require annual Academic ROI reporting for all public school buildings in the state – district and charters. Just as some districts are more productive than others, so are some schools and these should be acknowledged and better understood.
  3. Further eliminate mandates – regulations, laws, contracts – that force funds to be spent in particular ways across all schools regardless of student characteristics.
  4. Rapidly move away from “hold harmless” provisions and guarantees that provide funding to districts for phantom students. An obvious downside to such policies is that they
  5. ...
Categories: 

That the arcane issue of teacher pensions has turned into an emotional battleground can be evinced by recent headlines:

“Don’t demonize teachers because of pension system’s faults” (October 21, 2012, Los Angeles Times)
“Pension reform could hit oldest retired teachers the hardest” (February 3, 2013, Chicago Tribune)
“Cuomo Pension Plan Sparks Fight With New York Unions” (March 14, 2012, Huffington Post)
Retirement
New teachers should have the opportunity to select their own pension plan.
Photo by kenteegardin

In an era of budgetary belt tightening, state and local policymakers are finally awakening to the impact of teacher-pension costs on their bottom lines. Recent reports demonstrate that such pension systems across the United States are burdened by at least $390 billion in unfunded liabilities. Yet most states and municipalities have been taking the road of least resistance, tinkering around the edges rather than tackling comprehensive (but painful) pension reform.

Many have suggested that one solution to the pension crisis is to offer teachers the option of a 401(k)-style plan (also known as a “defined contribution” or DC plan) in lieu of a traditional pension (known as a “defined benefit” or DB plan). There is merit in that approach, but would this alternative appeal to teachers? Would certain types of teachers—new, veteran, more educated,...

Categories: 

This latest installment in CRPE’s “Making Ends Meet” policy-brief series laudably infuses a dram of reason into the class-size whirlpool. The brief counters the common and mistaken belief—spurred on by knee-jerk sensationalism and politicking—that class sizes are “skyrocketing”; rather, according to the report’s estimates, class sizes in 2011–12 were actually slightly smaller than they were in 1999–2000. This misconception aside, the authors then set out to determine if the benefits of small class sizes (more individual attention per student) outweigh the costs (both monetary and the cost of saddling students with lower-performing teachers in order to keep class sizes small). The authors demonstrate that increasing the nation’s average class size by just two students could free up $15.7 billion—enough to raise average teacher salary by $5,000 per teacher, provide a laptop for every student, or lengthen the school day in the poorest quintile of schools. Tony Bennett, heads up. (Tom Torklason and leaders of other states with class-size mandates, you too.)

SOURCE: Marguerite Roza and Monica Ouijdani, The Opportunity Cost of Smaller Classes: A State-By-State Spending Analysis (Seattle, WA: Center for Reinventing Public Education, December 2012)....

Categories: 

When then-Governor Ted Strickland issued his Evidence-Based Model (EBM) of school funding reform in 2009 we engaged Professor Paul Hill to provide an analysis of the proposals. We couldn’t think of anyone better to do the work than Professor Hill. His credentials are impeccable. He is founder and recently retired director of the University of Washington’s Center on Reinventing Public Education, and a former Senior Fellow at Brookings and RAND. Further, Professor Hill has roots in Ohio as a graduate of Ohio State University. He also has family in Dayton.
 
Professor Hill’s analysis of Strickland’s plan was largely informed by the research project he led, Facing the Future: Financing Productive Schools. That six-year effort, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was the most comprehensive study of its kind ever conducted. It concluded that America’s public-school finance systems are burdened by rules and narrow policies that hold local officials accountable for compliance but not for results. Facing the Future was the work of more than 40 economists, lawyers, financial specialists, and education policy makers. It included more than 30 separate studies, including in-depth looks at Ohio, North Carolina, Texas, and Washington.
 
Based on findings and recommendations from Facing the Future we asked Professor Hill to develop a “crosswalk” between the key findings of that seminal report and the policy recommendations in the Strickland’s Plan. Professor Hill’s analysis of Governor Strickland’s EBM was not kind. It stated bluntly, “Though Governor Ted...

Categories: 

How does Governor Kasich’s school funding plan stack up, according to one of the nation’s foremost experts in school finance and reform?  Find out in our latest publication, Steps in the Right Direction: Assessing “Ohio Achievement Everywhere” – the Kasich Plan.

In 2009, Fordham's Ohio team engaged Professor Paul Hill to to provide an analysis of then-Governor Strickland's school funding plan. We couldn’t think of anyone better to do the work than Hill—he is founder and recently retired director of the University of Washington’s Center on Reinventing Public Education, and a former Senior Fellow at Brookings and RAND. He was also the lead researcher on Facing the Future: Financing Productive Schools, a six-year effort, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which concluded that America’s public-school finance systems are burdened by rules and narrow policies that hold local officials accountable for compliance but not for results.
 
Fast forward to 2013, and another Ohio governor is proposing a school funding reform plan. We once again asked Professor Hill if he would provide a review of the governor’s plan. As the title notes, Professor Hill observes that Governor Kasich’s reform plan will advance Ohio and it schools, but it could be better and bolder. Download the short report to learn more about Professor Hill’s take on Kasich’s school funding plan....

Charity Hallman
When Teachers Choose Pension Plans: The Florida Story

Talk of pension reform for K–12 public school teachers is known to spark an array of emotion, ranging from boredom to rage. It's understandable—the issues with traditional pension plans are complex and personal. Yet, it's critical that policy makers, taxpayers, and especially teachers join the conversation.

The Thomas B. Fordham Institute recently released a case study on Florida's teacher pension reform that adds to a growing body of evidence that it is possible to reform teacher pensions and that teachers do in fact want portable retirement plan options. These are important findings that help to debunk the popular myth that all teachers prefer traditional, defined benefit, retirement plans.

The final retirement benefit paid to an employee under a defined benefit plan is a fixed amount determined through a formula that includes years of service, final average salary, and a salary multiplier. In defined benefit plans, employees' benefits are not affected by investment gains or losses. In order for a teacher to receive the full benefit these plans provide, however, they must continue to work as a teacher, typically within the same state, from 25 to 35 years. Otherwise, the teacher incurs significant losses from their retirement wealth. For example, a teacher who splits a lifelong career between two pension plans...

Categories: 

Lima, Ohio, recently named the nation’s ninth saddest city, received some cheer earlier this week when Governor John Kasich strode into town for his annual state of the state address. Among the myriad of topics the governor touched upon was K-12 education reform, and the residents of Lima—and many more across the Buckeye State—should be heartened by the education reforms he proposes.

Among the boldest and most exciting reforms the governor proposes, is his overhaul of the state’s school funding formula. The funding proposal the governor has laid forth levels the playing field for all Ohio students. It ensures that youngsters who attend a public school system with less local wealth—measured by property value and income—receive more state aid. For example, according to the governor’s preliminary FY 2014 estimates, the property and income-rich Upper Arlington schools near Columbus would receive no state aid for its regular students. (It would receive aid for its special education, economically disadvantaged, gifted, and English language learner students.) The state assumes, correctly, that Upper Arlington’s local residents can and will raise sufficient revenue to educate their children. This is sensible public finance—furnishing limited state funds to Upper Arlington is like giving Donald Trump social security. They simply don’t need it.

Meanwhile, the governor’s proposal provides generous state aid to students who reside in poorer, hard-scrabble communities such as Lima. Lima doesn’t have five-bedroom homes that generate large amounts of school tax revenue, and additionally, its residents don't have surplus income lying around...

Categories: 

GadflyIn a futile effort to counter the influence of test-preparation companies, New York City’s education department changed part of the test it administers to four-year-olds to determine whether or not they are gifted and talented. For parents who cannot afford to send their child to one of the city’s myriad private schools, a coveted and scarce seat in a public school gifted program is the best start they could give to their children. While many lament the unjust advantage that students with access to test-prep programs obtain, the true tragedy is the dearth of suitable options for all of the gifted children. For more, listen to this week’s Gadfly Show.

Eliciting a keen sense of deja vu, this year's AP Report to the Nation—College Board's tracking of AP course-taking patterns and exam pass rates—offers the same three takeaways as last year's report: Participation rates in the AP are fast on the rise (up 2 percentage points since last year and 14 since last decade). So are AP exam passing rates: up 1.5 percentage points since 2011 and 7 points since 2002. Still, minority involvement flounders, with less than a third of "qualified" Latinos and African American (as decided by PSAT scores) enrolling in an AP course. Expect further unpacking of what these numbers may mean for Common Core implementation, college-remediation courses, and more next week.

The congressionally mandated Equity and...

Categories: 

In an era of budgetary belt tightening, state and local policy makers are finally awakening to the impact of teacher pension costs on their bottom lines. Recent reports demonstrate that such pension programs across the United States are burdened by almost $390 billion in unfunded liabilities. Yet, most states and municipalities have been taking the road of least resistance, tinkering around the edges rather than tackling systemic (but painful) pension reform.

Is the solution to the pension crisis to offer teachers the option of a 401(k)-style plan (also known as a "defined contribution" or DC plan) instead of a traditional pension plan? Would this alternative appeal to teachers?

When Teachers Choose Pension Plans: The Florida Story sets out to answer these questions.

Pages