No Direct Link Between Pupil Spending, Quality
Bigger spending does not equal better education, according to an annual report compiled by the American Legislative Exchange Council.
The report, released last month, contends there is no statistical evidence to prove that higher teacher salaries and more per-pupil expenditures lead to an increase in academic performance.
In addition, the council's fifth annual education report card ranked each state based on more than 100 variables, including pupil-teacher ratios and SAT scores, educational resources, and achievement from 1976 to 1998. At the top were Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Montana, and Nebraska.
The worst performers were Louisiana, the District of Columbia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Alabama, and Georgia.
Among other data, the report notes an increase in minority enrollment nationwide, from 23.9 percent in 1976 to 35.2 percent in 1998, and a increase in the number of charter schools.
"Report Card on American Education," $25, from the American Legislative Exchange Council, 910 17th St. N.W., Washington, DC 20006; (202) 466-3801; fax: (202) 466-3800. The report is also available on the Web at: http://www.alec.org/viewpage.cfm?id+593&xsectionid=5.
Fatherhood: A study by researchers at Child Trends, a Washington-based nonprofit child-research center, suggests that absentee or nonresident fathers may have a profound effect on a child's development.
Findings in the study reflect those in other recent studies that indicate that a child will have a higher rate of academic success, including higher educational goals and better classroom behavior, if a father is involved with the child's education even though he doesn't live with the child.
The study also points out that children of divorced parents are more likely to drop out of high school and have low-wage jobs as adults than children who live with both parents.
In addition, the study suggests that well-educated fathers are more likely to play an active role in their children's educations than fathers who do not have a high school diploma.
"Promoting Responsible Fatherhood," $15, in the December issue of Policy and Practice, from the American Public Human Services Association, Publications Services; (202) 682-0100; or e-mail email@example.com.
Technology: A report prepared for the Texas legislature concludes that technology use has had a significant positive impact on teaching, student achievement, student attitudes, and administration.
The 211-page report by the Texas Education Agency is based on in-depth case studies of how computer networks are used in 11 schools, including the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
The report makes a number of recommendations to the legislature, such as providing each teacher with a laptop computer, allocating more resources for technology-related professional development at the district and building levels, and forming a committee to set guidelines for the creation of accessible and meaningful electronic instructional materials.
"A Report to the 76th Texas Legislature: Report on the Computer Network Study Project," $2.50, from the Texas Education Agency, Publications Distribution, PO Box 13817, Austin, TX 78711-3817; (512) 463-9744. It can be downloaded from the Web for free at: www.tea.state.tx.us/Textbooks/.
--Mary Ann Zehr
Educational Progress: School choice, up-to-date technology, and early-childhood education are just some of the subjects highlighted in a new report that examines efforts to strengthen the quality and performance of the public schools.
The annual report, published by the Denver-based Education Commission of the States, addresses key areas and trends in public education, including accountability, professional development, and a formal partnership between K-12 and postsecondary education.
Among its recommendations, it calls on administrators to close the gap between what are known to be effective ways of raising teaching standards and what is actually implemented at the school and district levels; and on schools to show that spending on the latest technologies is worthwhile and the new equipment is used to its fullest potential.
"The Progress of Education Reform 1998," $12.50, from the Education Commission of the States, Distribution Center, 707 17th St., Suite 2700, Denver, CO 80202-3427; (303) 299-3692. Cite order number SI-98-5.
Pesticide Use: State laws on the use of pesticides in and around school property are too lax and are compromising children's health, concludes a recent study from the National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides.
The report asks the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Education to adopt national standards to protect schoolchildren from pesticides.
The advocacy group studied pesticide laws in all 50 states, looking at such questions as whether buffer zones are required around school property to protect against chemical drifting, and whether students and parents are notified before pesticides are used around the school. According to the study, only 30 states fulfilled one or more of the group's standards; only 16 of those states have laws protecting against the use of indoor pesticides.
"The Schooling of State Pesticide Laws," $5, from the National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides, 701 E St. S.E., Suite 200, Washington, DC 20003; (202) 543-5450.
School Construction: A recent poll shows that an overwhelming proportion of Americans favors more federal spending on school construction.
In the poll, conducted by the Rebuild America Coalition, 82 percent of respondents said they would endorse a plan that would allocate $22 billion over five years to rebuild schools.
Respondents were split when asked about the physical conditions of public school buildings: Thirty-eight percent said they have improved, 28 percent said they have stayed the same, and 29 percent said they have gotten worse.
Seventy percent of the respondents said they would be willing to pay 1 percent more in taxes to modernize schools with basic wiring so that children could have computer access. Sixty-six percent said they would do the same if it meant having safe, modern, and healthy schools, and 49 percent said they would pay more taxes to tear down and replace every coal-fired, pre-World War II public school.
The 18-page report, released last month by the Washington-based group--which lobbies for all kinds of infrastructure projects in the United States--is based on 800 adults' responses to questions about America's infrastructure and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.
"Rebuild America Infrastructure Survey," free, from Gerri Perez, Rebuild America, (202) 347-7254; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Also available on the Web at: http://www.rebuildamerica.org/reports/survey.html.
College Scholarships: An increase in the cost of college tuition and fees, as well as an incentive to challenge high school students, has led to the growing popularity of state-financed merit-based college scholarships, according to a recent report.
The report by the Atlanta-based Southern Regional Education Board, which represents 16 Southern states, shows a growing trend in granting state scholarships to students based on their academic achievements. Students earning a B average in high school qualify for such scholarships, which are not based on financial need.
The report also outlines critics' concerns. For example, opponents of merit-based aid argue that lower-income students will not benefit because those students tend not to perform as well in challenging courses as their more affluent classmates.
"State-Funded Merit Scholarship Programs," $5, from the Southern Regional Education Board, 592 10th St. N.W., Atlanta, GA 30318-5790; (404) 875-9211; fax: (404) 872-1477.
Abuse: Nearly one in 10 high school students will experience physical violence from someone they are dating, and even more will experience verbal or emotional abuse, a recent study by the American Psychological Association concludes.
Ten percent to 25 percent of young women between the ages of 15 and 24 will be the victims of a rape or attempted rape, the report says. In half of those cases, it says, the attacker is someone the person has dated.
The Washington group's report lists the signs of abuse and resources for those who are abused.
"Love Doesn't Have To Hurt Teens," free, from the American Psychological Association, (202) 336-5700; Web site: http://www.apa.org/pi/pii/teen.
Vol. 18, Issue 23, Pages 12-13