Tuesday, February 02, 2016

"Valuing Public Education: a 50-State Report Card"

This new report, from the Network for Public Education, is sobering.  Overall, Washington state gets a "D" and no state earned more than a "C." 

(Public disclosure; I belong to this network but had no input to this report.)

This report really is a good counterbalance to other groups' report cards that cheer on unchecked charter growth or more testing.

From their website:
It’s the first in-depth, nonpartisan report card to grade states according to whether their current policies and laws make public schools vibrant and strong or undermine them. It stands in stark contrast to report cards released from conservative political organizations like The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and Students First that wrongly rank states based on their willingness to privatize public education and weaken the status of the teaching profession.

Our report card is different. Our grades reflect the values that we believe in—stability in the teaching force, a rejection of high stakes testing, small class sizes, integrated schools, pre-school education, a recognition that poverty matters and of course a sound rejection of charters, vouchers and other forms of privatization.

You may not always agree with our grades—some you may think are too high and others too low. But we hope you will agree with the goals they represent. The point after all is to ignite the kind of public debate we have all been longing for, and to spread a message about what we must do to truly improve our public schools.

You can find our report card and interactive map here. ​ Share it with friends and policymakers. By week’s end, we will also post individual state report cards on the site for you to check out.
Three states — Alabama,Montana and Nebraska — each earn an “A” for their rejection of both high stakes testing and privatization. No state, however, received high grades across the board.

For example, although Alabama scored high in resistance to high stakes testing and privatization, its schools are underfunded and far too many students live in poverty or near poverty in the state.


Anonymous said...

I'm not sure I have words to express the shock at learning that "a recognition that poverty matters" translates on page 16 of the report into "it is only fair that states also be judged by the percentage of their students who are poor".

And this judgement category is called "Chance for Success".

Did no one writing this report consider how it would sound to tell children living in states with high levels of poverty "you get an F on your Chance for Success"?


Anonymous said...


I don't think this implies that students are at fault. It tells me that teachers and schools are expected to assist with the disadvantages of being poor, and the reality is that they have few tools or funds to help them. Replacing a legislative responsibility to fund enough space, enough teachers, with privatization and charters doesn't address this issue at all.


Jet City mom said...

Graduation rates for children with disabilities in Washington is 54.6%, for children whose families are low income, 65.%.
Has Seattle/Washington applied recently for safety net monies to assist those students with IEP's?

Anonymous said...

Westside wrote " the reality is that they have few tools or funds to help them".

The School Finance grade covers, in addition to per pupil expenditures adjusted for poverty (and some other factors), Equitable Funding Across State which means "whether a state's funding system recognizes the additional resources required for students in settings of concentrated student poverty."

The report seems to be saying that even if your state is giving additional resources to address the "disadvantages of being poor", if your state as a whole has high poverty levels, you have no "Chance for Success".


Lynn said...

I am quite shocked you are assuming that children living in states with high levels of poverty will be reading this report. They are not the intended audience and we can not make progress by avoiding discussion of facts that make us uncomfortable.

Do you acknowledge that a child living in poverty is statistically less likely to be academically successful? Is a state with higher poverty levels then likely to have more failing students?

It's not no chance for success, it's a lower chance for success. No matter how much money we pour into schools for poor children, if they continue to experience poverty outside of school, their chances of academic success are lower than those of other students. States that do not provide support and opportunities for families are failing children.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I would agree with Lynn's interpretation.

Anonymous said...

Lynn wrote "I am quite shocked you are assuming that children living in states with high levels of poverty will be reading this report. They are not the intended audience"

I am not "assuming" children would read it. I don't think many 5 year olds would be interested. But why wouldn't a 15 year old be part of the intended audience? Or is it just 15 year olds in states with high levels of poverty that are not part of the intended audience? I'm certainly not trying to avoid discussing facts that should make us uncomfortable. I am very puzzled why it is called "Chance for Success" instead of something like "Economic Well-being".

Lynn also wrote "States that do not provide support and opportunities for families are failing children." When I looked at page 16 of this report which said "States can provide job training programs and employment opportunities to help families prosper. They set minimum wage laws." I thought supports and opportunities for families might be measured. But in the appendix for Chance of Success, state policies which might decrease poverty are not considered; it's the levels of poverty that are graded.