April 17th, 2012
01:45 PM ET

Today's Reading List

Here's what the editors of Schools of Thought are reading today:

Al.com: Atlanta newspaper's report on school cheating left out key details, USA professor says
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution conducted a nationwide study on cheating on America's high-stakes tests. Mobile, Alabama's school district, which was mentioned in the report for statistically improbable test scores, says the AJC's data doesn't tell the whole story.

Wired: Flipping the Classroom Requires More Than Video
In a flipped classroom, students watch online video lectures at home, then work on "homework" in class. The article points out that the content still needs to be relevant to a student in order to facilitate learning.

Larry Cuban: Connecting School Reform to Online Instruction in K-12 Classrooms: The Next New Thing
Studies show that achievement through online learning isn't where it needs to be. Larry Cuban says, "If you want to understand what happens to technological innovations when they are adopted and end up in classrooms, know what occurred to major school reforms that succeeded and failed."

SunSentinel: Students asked to sign honesty pledge before FCAT
Last year, Florida school officials invalidated thousands of students' scores on the state's standardized test, the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. The students' answer sheets were flagged when they were too similar to other students' answers. Students are being asked to take an honesty pledge before taking this year's FCATs.

KansasCity.com: Schools take on hunger, even after school
About 10% of Kansas City, Missouri's elementary students are receiving a third daily meal in their after school programs. School officials fear that the district's cafeterias are providing the only source of nutrients for some lower-income students.

Five minute primer: School funding
Teachers participate in an education budget cut rally and protest at Pershing Square on May 13, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.
April 17th, 2012
06:46 AM ET

Five minute primer: School funding

by Donna Krache, CNN

(CNN) Buses, salaries, building maintenance…the costs add up. It should come as no surprise that a free public education is hardly free. An estimated $1.15 trillion will be spent in public elementary and secondary schools this academic year to educate almost 50 million students throughout the U.S. Where does the money come from?  Here are some major sources of funding for public school districts and some challenges to that funding.

The federal government

In the U.S., education is primarily a state and local responsibility.  It varies, but about 10.8% of a state’s education budget is being funded by the federal government this year, according to the U.S. Department of Education. That department contributes to states via federal program grants like the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the “stimulus” of 2009), and Title I, which provides financial assistance to schools with a high percentage of students from low-income families.  There are also competitive grants, such as those available under the Obama administration’s Race to the Top program, that revolve around adoption of standards and assessments, teacher evaluation, and turning around low-achieving schools.  The amount of money awarded to states varies based on the states’ willingness to adopt and implement the federal requirements.  Other departments, including the Department of Agriculture, which administers the federal school lunch program, contribute education funding to states as well.

While some state administrators welcome federal help for elementary and secondary schools, critics cite the Department of Education’s requirements as their “strings attached” and view this as an intrusion of the federal government into state control over education.

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Filed under: Five minute primer • Policy • Practice