NCLB progress in Alabama

August 8, 2006

An editorial in Alabama’s Montgomery Advertiser commends progress in Alabama schools toward achieving standards under the No Child Left Behind Act.

Alabama public schools made huge strides toward meeting national No Child Left Behind accountability standards, with 1,194 of the state’s 1,364 schools making “Adequate Yearly Progress” toward a goal of having every child in the state and in the nation performing at proficiency levels in reading and math by 2014.

That’s 87.5%.

Newspaper prays for drought in Nevada education funding

August 8, 2006

No sooner did I note the Nevada State School Board’s request for more money, mostly to increase teacher pay, than today’s editorial in the Las Vegas Review-Journal started shooting at the proposal, saying it has no chance to pass.

The editorial board wrote:

That the board would make such an outlandish demand is not surprising. Leading into each legislative session over the past decade, the board has prepared budgets that far exceed the state’s ability to pay. Of the board’s 10 members, six have ties to education, either through teaching positions or retirements from schools and colleges. From their perspective, schools can never have enough money, no matter how much they pull from your pockets.

The earlier story noted that the slide to the current average classroom size took several years. From the appearances of the earlier story, the state has not kept pace with funding needs in education. If the state board’s recommendations are not met one year, and they recommend full funding the next year, the recommendations will begin to look “outlandish.” As the needs continue to be unmet with funding, the need for funding grows — and usually such growth is not linear, but is instead exponential. Ten years of budget failure does not indicate that the current budget proposal is too large by any means. It would be the logical result of a state sliding in education capability. Read the rest of this entry »

Keeping Nevada education green

August 8, 2006

Nevada’s State School Board Saturday voted to ask the legislature for an additional $1.1 billion, mostly for increases in teacher pay, but also to add 2,000 teachers. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported the story in Sunday’s paper:

The Nevada State Board of Education voted Saturday to recommend that the 2007 Legislature increase spending on public education by $1.1 billion over current levels.

The proposal, if approved by lawmakers, would boost Nevada’s education funding by 50 percent and consume more than the $1 billion in additional general fund tax revenue that Gov. Kenny Guinn has said will be available for all state agencies in the upcoming budget.

Guinn estimates that state government will receive $6.9 billion in tax revenue for the 2007-08 and 2008-09 budgets, compared with $5.9 billion in the current two-year budget.

The board, which approved its education spending recommendation in a 9-1 vote, wants to increase teacher salaries 3 percent each year over the next two years. It also voted to reduce the current ratio of 21.4 students per teacher to 19.65. That ratio last was achieved by Nevada public schools in 2001-02.

Reducing the ratio would require public schools to hire about 2,000 additional teachers.

In the current two-year budget, the state spends about $2.2 billion on public education, or $4,600 for each of the 404,000 students. The proposals backed by the state board would increase state spending to $3.3 billion and raise the per-student allocation to $6,244.

(story reported by Ed Vogel of the Review-Journal’s Capital Bureau in Reno)

In Nevada, all but about 10% of local school funding comes from the state government. Nevada is the state among the continental 48 with the highest percentage of land controlled by federal agencies, way over 50%. Most of that land is unpopulated, but the state has experienced explosive growth around Las Vegas and Reno. New schools pop up with amazing frequency around Las Vegas. Budget issues in Nevada education may vary from other states.

The vote on the proposal was 9 in favor, one opposed. The one opponent to the budget recommendation explained her vote in a way that may pop eyes in other states:

Barbara Myers, the only board member to vote against the budget request, said she opposed the plan only because she wanted to reduce the student-teacher ratio even more.

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