Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Education Results, Not Spending Rankings, Count Most

studyingTomorrow marks one of education’s most important  rituals: the annual release of Education Week’s “Quality Counts” report, which grades states on several criteria including spending. If history is any indication, howls about “underfunded” public education are sure to follow. In fact, by my tally at least a dozen states all claimed to be 49th in K-12 funding in 2015 alone, about the same number as 2014, depending on the ranking and the methodology used.

The reality is total public elementary and secondary school spending now amounts to $635 billion. If that kind of spending represented market value, public K-12 education would rank second only to Apple valued at $725 billion and far ahead of ExxonMobil and Microsoft, each with a market value of more than $300 billion.

The trouble is, annual spending rankings tell us virtually nothing about how much value students and taxpayers are receiving for what we’re spending.

Right now, for instance, total per-pupil spending averages more than $12,000 nationwide. Yet alarmingly small numbers of students are doing well in reading and math based on combined proficiency rates from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the Nation’s Report Card.

Less than half (46 percent) of fourth and eighth grade public school students nationwide who are not low-income (those whose family incomes are too high to quality for the federal National School Lunch program) are proficient in NAEP reading and math. Barely one in five low-income public school students (21 percent) is proficient.

Yet these averages conceal huge spending and performance variances. In fact, many states are simply paying more for poor results. This is especially true for low-income students based on combined fourth and eighth grade NAEP math and reading proficiency rates and per-pupil instructional spending, averaging $6,500 nationwide for the 2011-12 school year, the latest spending data available.

At more than twice the national average, New York is the country’s top spender, $13,500 per student, but just 22 percent of low-income students are proficient. Numerous other states do as well or better spending a whole lot less.

Montana and New Hampshire spend $6,300 and $8,900, and each have a 29 percent proficiency rate—the highest nationally for low-income students, tying with Vermont, Massachusetts, and Wyoming, which spend $10,400, $9,600, and $9,500, respectively. Other states spending below the national average and achieving better results than New York include Idaho ($4,000), which performs as well as top-spender contender New Jersey ($10,800), Indiana ($5,600), Kansas ($6,100), Kentucky ($5,400), Ohio ($6,400), Washington ($5,600), and South Dakota ($5,100).

Another six states spend thousands of dollars less than New York and achieve the same proficiency rate: Colorado ($5,000), Florida ($5,200), North Carolina ($5,100), Pennsylvania ($8,000), Texas ($4,900), and Utah ($4,100).

Yet New York is not an isolated case. Alaska and Connecticut each have an 18 percent proficiency rate in spite of spending $9,700 and $10,700. Nearly a dozen states spend less than the national average and perform as well or better than these states: Arizona ($4,000), Arkansas ($5,400), Georgia ($5,700), Iowa ($6,200), Michigan ($6,100), Missouri ($5,700), Oklahoma ($4,300), Oregon ($5,500), Nevada ($4,800), South Carolina ($5,200), and Virginia (just under $6,500).

A striking difference between top-spending states and the vast majority of lower-spending but better performing states is the availability of parental choice programs. Scholarships and education savings account (ESA) programs, such as those in Arizona, Florida, and Nevada, empower parents to choose the education providers, including private schools, they think are best for their children. All providers, in turn, must compete for students and their associated funding, which introduces powerful pressure for them to improve their performance.

Instead of fixating on spending rankings, we should be focusing on results—and emulating the states that get the best achievement for every dollar spent.


Campaigning on campus, group that helps families of IS killers: Charity gave talk at university before students held Christmas appeal asking for donations

A notorious group that funds terrorists’ families has been allowed to campaign for donations at a leading university, the Daily Mail can reveal.

HHUGS supports the family of Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, an Islamic State fighter whose father Adel is a convicted terrorist linked to Osama Bin Laden.

But in November it was permitted to campaign unopposed during a talk at the London School of Oriental and African Studies by Moazzam Begg, director of the CAGE group which described Jihadi John as ‘a beautiful young man’.

In December students at SOAS held a Christmas appeal for donations to HHUGS, calling it a ‘great cause’.

HHUGS – Helping Households Under Great Stress – provides ‘practical support and advice’ to families of those arrested under UK anti-terror laws.

The group has published articles in support of terrorist Munir Farooqi, a former Taliban fighter given four life sentences in 2011 for trying to recruit jihadi fighters. It also once published an article on its website which claimed there was ‘no evidence’ for Bin Laden’s involvement in 9/11.

The group’s supporters include Sheikh Haitham al-Haddad – an imam who has described homosexuality as ‘a criminal act’ and defended the practice of female genital mutilation – and Lauren Booth, the Muslim sister-in-law of Tony Blair.

She was quoted in a HHUGS leaflet as saying: ‘Our brothers are routinely being taken from their homes, households are wrecked and they are held often without charge and when they are charged families are often left alone. HHUGS gives emotional and practical support to those left behind.’

Undercover reporters from the Mail Investigations Unit found HHUGS running a stall at a lecture on November 2 at SOAS about ‘wrongly imprisoned’ Islamists, titled ‘Brothers Behind Bars’. A female member of the group in a niqab was giving out promotional cards, including one about Adel Abdel Bary. Forms requesting donations were also given to students.

HHUGS has covered bills, tuition fees, food vouchers and even driving lessons for the Bary family, who live in a £1million home in Maida Vale, North-West London.

The card handed out at the SOAS event stated: ‘Adel Abdel Bary – Detained without charge since 1999.’

In fact in 2014 Bary, 55, admitted working for Al Qaeda and Egyptian Islamic Jihad after being extradited to the US from Britain. Last February he was sentenced to 25 years in a US jail for conspiring to kill Americans in the 1998 embassy bombings in Africa which left 224 dead.

The card handed to students also did not mention that Bary’s son Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary is a terrorist fighting for IS who has posed on social media with a severed head.

HHUGS paid out £172,259 to ‘those living in financial hardship’ last year. The charity says no money goes to convicted terrorists or those involved in extremism, only to their dependants.

A spokesman for HHUGS said it was an ‘oversight’ that it handed out the leaflet about Bary’s case at the SOAS event. ‘The postcard was produced in 2010 at a time when Mr Bary was detained without charge,’ he said. ‘The postcards should not have been utilised at the stall.’

He added: ‘We can confirm that HHUGS has never provided any support to Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary.’

The Bary family declined to comment. Lauren Booth did not respond to requests for comment. SOAS said: ‘These events were legal and no concerns were raised with us by police.’


Bullying parents: NSW principals among most threatened in Australia

The "safety and welfare of employees is a paramount concern," the NSW Department of Education has said, after a damning report found that NSW principals suffered some of the highest rates of bullying and violence in the country.

The study, released in December, found that parents were the primary source of threats of violence against principals and that NSW principals were five times more likely to be threatened than the general population.

"The trend is extremely worrying in NSW," said Philip Riley​ from the Australian Catholic University. Professor Riley interviewed more than 4000 principals around the country for the Australian Principal Occupation Health, Safety and Wellbeing Survey.

"A lot of the offensive behaviours are increasing in a very big way in NSW. It's right up there, in terms of trends NSW and Tasmania are the two worst states."

Professor Riley said that there were countless examples of parents intimidating principals across the state with parents in large rural towns the worst offenders.

"In one instance a principal was being stalked by a parent because they didn't like how they were treating their children. The principal would be working late at night in the country town and car lights would flash across the window and then follow them home."

In another instance a principal was slammed against a wall by a senior lawyer demanding a refund for a school trip his child could not attend due to illness.

In Western Australia last year, three principals were hospitalised due to being bashed by members of the school community .

"The overriding thing is there is a sense of entitlement that parents have that they know how to run a school and they know what they should be done for their child," said Professor Riley 

Now in its fifth year, the longitudinal study found that principals are up to twice as likely to suffer from burnout, depression and sleeplessness than the general population.

Professor Riley said that the cross sector analysis showed little improvement in the experience of principals between government, independent and Catholic schools.

"The common rhetoric is that everything is better in private schools but that is just not true in terms of health and wellbeing, and that has to translate to students," he said.

On average, female principals experienced 10 per cent more violence and bullying in the workplace.

Only 50 per cent of principals reported feeling supported from colleagues inside the school, while only one in 10 felt they were being supported by their employers.

The President of the NSW Secondary Principals association, Lila Mularczyk​ said the findings on parental bullying were not a surprise.

"It can be difficult and awkward for parents as they want to do the best for their child and sometimes they may respond in a volatile way," she said.

She said she had experienced abuse first hand.

"There have been instances when I have received verbal and physical intimidation from adults in the community. That has lessened over the years as I developed trust and relationships."

A spokesman for the NSW Department of Education said that the department continues to work closely with its principals to review and develop new resources to support health and wellbeing.

Professor Riley said that he hoped to extend the survey to teachers next year, describing the bullying culture as "endemic".

"The survey has just uncovered something that is entrenched and been there for a long time," he said.


No comments: