Friends & Colleagues -
While the local education news scene is relatively quiet, things at the national level are loud and promise to be even more raucous as the Federal education budget weaves its way through Congress.
And while we slow the local news cycle a bit, I ask that you please continue to send this email/post to a couple of your colleagues and encourage them to sign-up for updates or to message me directly so I may add them to the subscriber list. Think of anyone you know who is interested in education and might find these updates helpful. All are welcome! Here's this week's roundup:
- [LOCAL: NEWS] Due in large part to projected enrollment being down to its lowest levels in 15 years, APS predicts flat revenue for next year. Last week, the board approved the district's $1.3 billion budget though still expects a $13-24 million budget shortfall, which will be made up for primarily from reserve funds and cuts to central office staff. If the APS student enrollment decline of the past 6 years continues, and with a perpetually languishing state economy, we must continue to ask how we can better spend that $15,659 per student? Where do we need to modernize and improve district spending and governance to ensure all students get the education they deserve?
- [LOCAL:NEWS] Real Clear Education recently published a telling profile of The Land of Enchantment. Education Rising in New Mexico documents the ups and downs of our attempts to improve public education and the many complications and missteps we've encountered along the way. We also read of encouraging progress being made in places such as Gallup-McKinley county which currently has zero "F" graded schools and has seen 509 more students become proficient in math and English-Language Arts over the past school year. For all the doom and gloom around New Mexico, it's important to remember that with high expectations and a focus on student learning neither poverty nor one's zip code is destiny.
Whether you are a wholehearted supporter of the changes of the last six years, or have a skeptical eye towards the reforms we've seen, one thing we surely need to agree on in the article is this from Secretary Skandera: "It should not matter what zip code you live in for how prepared you are for life. People say maybe it’s not possible to have high expectations for all kids [and] there are tough circumstances – poverty, English as a second language – but we have the same expectations no matter the beginnings. We are going to make diplomas meaningful. We are going to make sure [students] are successful in life."
- [NATIONAL: PROFILE] As I mentioned in a recent post, BASIS is a 20-year-old network of 27 public charter, private and international schools spanning five states in the U.S. They also run four of the top five schools in the country according to U.S. News and World Report's 2017 rankings, with those four schools in neighboring Arizona. This lengthy profile from The 74 Million provides insight into what makes the network tick and how BASIS combines high expectations, deeply knowledgeable teachers, international standards and test-based mastery to ensure all their students, regardless of zip code, graduate high school ready for college and career.
- [NATIONAL: SURVEY] Letting our students speak for themselves is a foundational value for public education, and here's what they have to say: Nearly three-quarters of first-generation college students view education as the best pathway out poverty, according to a new survey by Students for Education Reform and Mercury. These students are a diverse group, with 62% receiving free or reduced-price lunches and 37% living in a home where a language other than English was spoken. Of those surveyed, 74% agree that families should be able to choose the best school for their child. More than half believe their educational experience would have been better with school choice, and 44% would have attended another school if it had been an option. But only 32% reported that their district offered school choice.