Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Surprising and Less Surprising: Public Education by CEP

Some surprising and less surprising edufacts from a much needed all-in-one publication from the Center for Education Policy. One might be tempted to interpret this post as a report card on what I know and what I believe about public education as much as anything else. But my categories, crude as they may be, also reflect my interpretation of the general pulse of education policymakers (not necessarily what policymakers know, since policymakers deal with these realities all the time, but more a measure of what surprises them today, not what surprised them ten years ago or more, e.g. that between 66-70 percent of students graduate high school, or less-qualified teachers collect in high poverty districts).

Less surprising:
  • 4 of 10 public school students are children of color
  • African American and Latino students are much more likely than white students to attend high-poverty schools
  • key education policies are generally determined at the state and local level rather than the federal level
  • over 90% of funding for public education comes from state and local sources
  • huge disparities in education funding exist between high-spending
    and low-spending states and school districts
  • U.S. students perform relatively well in reading literacy compared students in other highly industrialized countries
  • too many students, especially students of color, do not finish high school (many estimates show 66% completion rate)
  • 47% of public school teachers have advanced degrees
  • high schools with high concentrations of low-income or minority students have mor "out-of-field" or less experienced teachers than high schools in low-poverty or low-minority-enrollment schools
Somewhat surprising:
  • 17% of public school students attend schools their parents chose for them
  • 2.2% of students are home-schooled
  • About 14% of public school students receive special education services
  • in 2003-04, three-fourths of these students with disabilities were educated in regular classrooms with other children for a significant part of the school day
  • about one third of students are educated in school systems with less than 600 students
  • the top 2% of largest school districts enroll one third of the nation's students
  • adjusted for inflation, per pupil funding has increased considerably over the past three decades
  • over 60% of education spending, on average, goes toward instruction
  • 38 Total number of states sued since 1989 in educational adequacy lawsuits challenging their school finance systems
  • older students don't perform as well when asked to apply what they have learned in math and science as compared to many industrialized countries
  • 58% of public school teachers have more than 10 years of experience
  • 46% of new teachers leave teaching during the first five years of their career
Very surprising:
  • about 8% of education spending goes toward administration
  • 75% Percentage of school finance lawsuits won by plaintiffs since 1989
  • U.S. students do relatively well in math and science at the lower
    grades compared with students in other countries
  • nine out of 10 teachers are white, and almost 8 out of
    10 are female
  • high rates of teachers changing schools and leaving the profession
    altogether are the main reasons for teacher shortages


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