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How Education Could Shape the Governor’s Race in California: Funding, Accountability, Charter Schools

The 74 Million – David Cantor

“One lens into California’s sprawling size is its education system. Six million children under the age of 18 attend public schools — including 600,000 in charter schools — while nearly 3 million students are enrolled in the state’s storied higher education system, which is still struggling to recover from decades of underfunding. The largest teachers union has 325,000 members.”(more)

5 States in Crisis: Budget Battles, Court Challenges, Political Bickering Leave Schools Millions Short

The 74 Million – Carolyn Phenicie

“Chicago Schools are laying off 1,000 staff members. In Kansas, schools closed their doors early. And the situation in Oklahoma schools is truly grim. In Oklahoma City Schools, leaders first cut 208 teaching positions, then 92 members of the administrative staff. Fine arts budgets will be cut in half for the upcoming school year, and there will be no money for new library materials. Oklahoma’s Newcastle Public Schools will start charging $100 per student for extracurricular activities — and that’s after district officials have already eliminated most field trips, increased class sizes, delayed a major textbook purchase and moved to a four-day school week. Celebrity talk show host Ellen DeGeneres helped one elementary school librarian in the state’s Union Public School District pay for a summer reading program. Leaders in Tulsa are filling budget holes with a community fundraiser, forebodingly called “SOS” — Save our Schools.”(more)

Unicef: 75m children in desperate need of education support

BBC – Staff Writer

“Some 75 million school-age children in crisis areas around the world are in desperate need of educational support, according to a new report by Unicef. One in four children aged 3-18 – 462 million – live in countries affected by humanitarian crises, the report says. In Syria, five years of civil war have left 6,000 schools out of use, while in Eastern Ukraine the conflict damaged or destroyed one in five schools. Refugees are five times more likely to be out of school, the report says. During times of conflict, girls are two-and-a-half times more likely to be out of school than their male peers, it adds. The report comes ahead of the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul on 23 and 24 May.
A new emergency education fund, called Education Cannot Wait, will be launched at the summit.”(more)

Here’s how to leverage federal funds for STEM education

E-School News – Laura Devaney

“The U.S. Department of Education issued guidance to school districts and educational leaders on funding STEM education opportunities. The U.S. Department of Education has issued guidance around leveraging federal funds for STEM education in an attempt to close the equity and opportunity gaps that persist for historically underserved students. A letter directed to states, school districts and schools offers examples of how federal funds can serve to support the development, implementation and expansion of STEM education and learning experiences to improve student achievement.”(more)

A Rising Call to Promote STEM Education and Cut Liberal Arts Funding

The New York Times – Patricia Cohen

“Frustrated by soaring tuition costs, crushing student loan debt and a lack of skilled workers, particularly in science and technology, more and more states have adopted the idea of rewarding public colleges and universities for churning out students educated in fields seen as important to the economy…at least 15 states offer some type of bonus or premium for certain high ­demand degrees…What has incensed many educators is not so much the emphasis on work force development but the disdain for the humanities…“A lot of the feedback we get from employers is not only about the necessity of technical skills, but the soft skills as well — the ability to think creatively, to work in groups, things that you traditionally get in the liberal arts,” said Russ Deaton, the interim executive director of Tennessee’s Higher Education Commission. “It’s not as simple as STEM is valued and worthy of incentives and everything else is not.””(more)

Spending in nation’s schools falls again, with wide variation across states

The Washington Post – Emma Brown

“The nation’s per-pupil spending on K-12 public schools dropped in 2013 for the third year in a row, reversing more than a decade of funding increases, according to federal data released Wednesday. Spending continued to vary widely across the country, from a low of $6,432 per student in Utah to a high of $20,530 per student in the District of Columbia. The biggest spenders were largely clustered in the Northeast, while the lowest were in the West and Southeast…The new federal data were released on the heels of a report by the nonprofit Center on Budget and Policy Priorities showing that state governments in at least 31 states are contributing less to public education than they did in 2008, before the recession. “Our country’s future depends crucially on the quality of its schools, yet rather than raising K-12 funding to support proven reforms such as hiring and retaining excellent teachers, reducing class sizes, and expanding access to high-quality early education, many states have headed in the opposite direction,” the nonprofit’s report said. “These cuts weaken schools’ capacity to develop the intelligence and creativity of the next generation of workers and entrepreneurs.””(more)