Think Twice Weekly Report

AUGUST 19, 2023 - AUGUST 25, 2023

The Think Twice Weekly Report compiles public education-related policy reports, research and articles of interest to policymakers, educators and stakeholders. This list is not exhaustive but is meant to highlight recent reports that may be used to support or undermine the work of our subscribers in supporting public schools. We encourage you to take a moment to scan these reports and determine if they may be used by policy makers to assist or erode your mission.

Policy Reports

School Finance and Funding

Source: Commonwealth Foundation
Date: 8/22/2023
Pa. Back to School Public Education Trends

As students head back to school, there are many claims of teacher shortages and funding shortfalls. In reality, public school spending is at a record high, and Pennsylvania ranks among the highest-spending states nationwide. The enacted state budget increased funding for public schools by almost $690 million, on top of 2022's record-high $1.58 billion funding increase. Meanwhile, enrollment in public schools has dropped, but the number of teachers and other school employees has increased. While certain local districts face teacher shortages, this has been exacerbated by shrinking districts hiring and retaining staff. This disparity could be resolved if funding followed the child. Further, pension reform could alleviate hiring challenges. While the average Pennsylvania teacher earns nearly $75,000, school districts spend more than $20,000 per teacher to pay off pension liabilities. That is, had Pennsylvania converted to a defined contribution retirement system, public schools could provide $95,000 in average teacher salaries at current spending levels.

School Segregation

Source: Bellwether
Date: 8/24/2023
When Good Parents Go to Jail: The Criminalization of Address Sharing in Public Education

When Good Parents Go to Jail: The Criminalization of Address Sharing in Public Education argues that restrictive attendance-zone policies lock families out of opportunities and recommends policymakers, prosecutors, and district leaders rethink address-based school assignments and their enforcement. But even the most equitable approach to school assignments wouldn't address the concentration of our nation's highest-performing, most desirable schools in the wealthiest places - the reason so many parents would even consider skirting the law to attend a school outside their neighborhood. The underlying problem starts with housing segregation. Even as our nation has become more racially diverse, our communities have not. Most people live in racially and economically segregated neighborhoods, leaving families who are both low-income and Black or Hispanic the most isolated of all. This segregation - the product of decades of exclusionary zoning and other discriminatory practices and policies such as redlining - has created wide disparities in access to place-based opportunities, including thriving schools, well-paying jobs, quality health care, healthy foods, and well-maintained parks and recreation sites.

Teacher Recruitment

Source: Learning Policy Institute
Date: 8/16/2023
The Federal Role in Ending Teacher Shortages

Although some factors that contribute to the shortages-such as teacher salaries-are determined at the state or local levels, there are a few powerful actions that the federal government could take to build a nationwide strategy for teacher recruitment, preparation, support, and retention. A new LPI report, The Federal Role in Ending Teacher Shortages, has identified seven keys areas the federal government should focus on to strengthen the education profession and address the root causes of teacher shortages.

Teacher Salaries

Source: Amerian Institute for Research
Date: May 2023
Raising the Bar on Teacher Pay

This brief, from AIR and the Teacher Salary Project, presents national research on current teacher salaries, summarizing recent commitments to increase teacher pay made by state governors and outlining state-by-state data and guidance for considering teacher salary increases.

Reports Reviewed

GLC seeks to ensure that policy briefs impacting education reform are based on sound, credible academic research. Below are reviews conducted with GLC support.

Think Again: Do Charter Schools Drain Resources From Traditional Public Schools?

Source: Thomas B. Fordham Institute
Reviewed by: Huriya Jabbar, University of Texas at Austin

The report references most of the relevant literature and fairly assesses the evidence. However, it makes claims and policy recommendations that are untested empirically and unwarranted based on the research. For example, it concludes that districts' higher expenditures in a charter environment are due to policies protecting traditional public schools from revenue fluctuations caused by charter competition. In doing so, it fails to consider other possible explanations, such as charters strategically enrolling relatively few students who are particularly costly to educate.

What We're Reading

Research and articles that we want to highlight for subscribers as potential resources:

PROOF POINTS: A research update on social-emotional learning in schools

By: Jill Barshay, The Hechinger REport

The latest July 2023 updated meta-analysis doesn't really settle the debate over whether the evidence for SEL is strong or guide schools to which SEL interventions are most effective.


By: Dorothy Benz, Learning For Justice

Student-run Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) clubs are a federally protected space for young people to survive and thrive in the increasingly hostile anti-LGBTQ+ climate in schools and across the country.

Couch, car or curb: Defining which young person is 'homeless' affects aid state by state

By: Robbie Sequeira, Stateline

A patchwork of definitions complicates efforts to help youth without permanent homes. Several states this year tried to clarify the situation and to provide more aid to homeless youth - especially to teenagers fending for themselves.

They integrated Little Rock's schools - now they're slamming restrictions on AP African American Studies

By: Bracey Harris, NBC News

Several members of the Little Rock Nine pushed back on the Arkansas Department of Education's treatment of the Advanced Placement course.

Carol Burris: How Teachers Should Teach PragerU Videos

By: Diane Ravitch

Carol Burris, a veteran teacher and principal, gives advice for teachers compelled to use PragerU videos.