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Wednesday, May 2, 2018

New L.A. schools chief Beutner pledges to learn and to take action

New L.A. schools chief Beutner pledges to learn and to take action:

New L.A. schools chief Beutner pledges to learn and to take action
New L.A. schools Supt. Austin Beutner proved on Wednesday that he's a quick learner despite lacking a background in education. Like a stream of public officials before him, he appeared at an important event — his first speech and news conference — in front of a group of students, who served as a photogenic backdrop.
His message — that he would put students first — was nothing original but he pledged to push cooperatively but unflinchingly to improve the district's academic performance and stabilize its finances.
Details to come.
Beutner, a former investment banker who made a fortune on Wall Street, offered no specifics on how he would deal with the district's gravest academic and fiscal challenges or its stalled negotiations with the teachers union.
Union representatives on Wednesday came out battling, saying his selection was a sign that L.A. Unified's leadership is steering the nation's second-largest school system in the wrong direction.
The Board of Education selected Beutner by a 5-2 vote on Tuesday, passing over interim Supt. Vivian Ekchian, who has spent her career in the L.A. Unified School District, rising from teacher to senior management.
"To state the obvious, I'm an unconventional choice, unconventional by lots of measures," Beutner, a former deputy mayor and L.A. Times publisher, said in prepared remarks at Belmont High School. "But the district is at a crossroads. We face some tough issues. But I believe we can move forward together and address these issues to unlock the enormous  Continue reading: New L.A. schools chief Beutner pledges to learn and to take action:

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Cathie Black

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Cathie Black, the new chancellor of New York City schools calls herself a born saleswoman

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BROOKINGS: Charter school growth puts fiscal pressure on traditional public schools

Charter school growth puts fiscal pressure on traditional public schools:

Charter school growth puts fiscal pressure on traditional public schools

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Policy debates about the net effects of charter schools on students and on the delivery of K-12 education are ongoing and remain highly contentious. 

In a recent paper, we contribute to the policy discussion by drawing attention to the fiscal externalities of charter schools, a finance topic that deserves more attention in the overall discussion. Fiscal externalities are the additional burden that charter schools place on the budgets of traditional school districts, and we find evidence that they are consequential in North Carolina.

Although such burdens may manifest themselves in higher local tax burdens, the more likely outcome is reduced spending per pupil on educational services–and hence lower educational quality–for students who remain in the district’s traditional public schools. The presence of charter schools typically means that some of the funding that would otherwise have been available to the local school district is diverted to the charter schools. For example, assume that the funding arrangements are such that if 10 percent of a district’s students shift to a charter school, the district loses 10 percent of its revenue. The main problem is that the district cannot simply reduce its costs by 10 percent because some of its costs are fixed, especially in the short run. As a result, unless the district is able to offset the lost revenue with higher local tax revenue, it must cut its spending on variable inputs, such as teachers, by more than 10 percent.


In drawing attention to these fiscal externalities, we follow the lead of scholars Robert Bifulco and Randall Reback, who measured the adverse fiscal impacts of charter schools in two New York districts, Albany and Buffalo. They correctly point out that estimated magnitudes depend on state and local funding arrangements, and require explicit assumptions about how readily local districts can modify their spending patterns in response to revenue losses, as well about the proportion of charter students who otherwise would have attended private schools.
Our study goes beyond theirs in several ways, including applying the analysis to one medium-sized urban district and five non-urban districts in North Carolina. Attending to effects in these smaller districts is useful given the spread of charter schools beyond the large urban districts where charters have been most common.
In North Carolina, the state is the sole authorizer of charter schools and its authorizing legislation specifies that charter schools are to be funded at the same per-pupil rate as the public schools in the district where the students live. Funding for these purposes includes state funding which accounts for about 65 percent of statewide funding, and local supplemental funding which differs by district based largely on the wealth of the local county.
We collected financial data on school spending from six districts around the state to conduct the analysis. We selected Durham, N.C., (a county district with a traditional public school enrollment of 33,000 students) as our urban district because of: its relatively large share of charter school students (15 percent); its high local funding; and the explicit concerns of district policymakers that charters are adversely affecting the district’s ability to serve its students, many of whom are economically disadvantaged. We selected five illustrative non-urban districts based on their growing shares of charter school enrollments, and our success in obtaining the detailed local expenditure data needed for the analysis.


Estimating fiscal burdens in an art, not a science. Central to the analysis is categorizing local district expenditures into one of two categories. Variable costs–such as spending on teachers–represent those that can be cut back relatively easily with a change in the number of students. Conversely, fixed costs – such as those on administration and facilities–represent long-term funding commitments and are much harder to adjust in the short run.
For the simplest models, we assume that the district can reduce its variable spending on line with the loss of students and that fixed costs cannot be adjusted at all. In fact, however, the district will not be able to adjust its variable spending in this way if the students who shift to charter schools are spread across schools and grades. Hence, we also calculate short-run fiscal burdens that assume some stickiness in variable spending. For some of our estimates, we also vary the treatment of fixed costs by assuming that even in the relatively short run, the introduction of charter schools may allow a Continue Reading: Charter school growth puts fiscal pressure on traditional public schools: