Think Twice Weekly Report

MAY 4, 2024 - MAY 10, 2024

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 Choice and Vouchers; School Finance and Funding

Source: North Carolina Justice Center
Date: 5/3/2024
How Voucher Programs Undermine the Education Landscape in North Carolina

In 2023, North Carolina lawmakers went all-in on vouchers. Via changes incorporated in the 2023 budget bill, North Carolina became the tenth state with a universal voucher program, one in which all private school students are eligible for state-funded subsidies regardless of their family income. The budget also triples the program's funding. What was once a small, limited program spending just $10.8 million per year has ballooned. By the 2032-2033 school year, the program is slated to spend $551 million per year. These changes will have profound impacts on the education landscape in North Carolina for years to come. So how did we get here? And what will the impacts be on North Carolina's students? This paper seeks to provide those answers.

School Choice and Vouchers; School Finance and Funding

Source: EdWorkingPaper
Date: April 2024
The Effect of Taxpayer-Funded Education Savings Accounts on Private School Tuition: Evidence from Iowa

This report analyzes a novel longitudinal dataset for all private schools in Iowa and Nebraska, neighboring states that adopted ESAs in the same legislative session, with Iowa's implementation beginning first. By leveraging state and grade-level variation in eligibility, the authors provide new causal evidence that ESAs led Iowa private schools to increase tuition. If a goal of ESAs is to extend private school access to new families, the substantial tuition increases they produce may limit access.

School Finance and Funding

Source: Bellwether
Date: 5/8/2024
Splitting the Bill: Special Education Briefs

"To support policymakers, advocates, and other education leaders, Bellwether has published three briefs examining federal funding for special education that may be most helpful when read in the following order:
1. How Do School Finance Systems Support Students With Disabilities?
2. What are the Major Policy and Funding Components of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)?
3. What are the Core Funding Components of the "Grants to States" Funding (IDEA Part B, Section 611) in IDEA?
These briefs are part of our larger Splitting the Bill series that explains the nuts and bolts of state education finance. While the other briefs in the series focus on state education finance policy, our special education funding briefs highlight the prominent role of federal policy and funding in shaping how states and public school systems provide services for special education students."

Legal Issues

Source: AEI and WILL
Date: 5/7/2024
Schools and the Law: First Amendment US Supreme Court Decisions That School Board Members Should Know

"Key Points

- Public school board members should be familiar with landmark Supreme Court decisions that could shape how they resolve conflicts and set school district policies.

- Students generally enjoy more First Amendment rights than teachers do. Settings and circumstances dictate when and where teachers are at liberty to indulge in free expression, but when it comes to the classroom, school boards set the curriculum, and teachers must follow it.

- Legal disputes arising from topics like racial discrimination and parental rights will test school districts' authority to regulate speech until the Supreme Court weighs in to clarify the limits of free speech in public schools on these topics."

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.

Review of The Reality of Switchers

Source: EdChoice
Reviewed by: Joshua Cowen, Michigan State University

A new report from the voucher-advocacy group EdChoice takes issue with the overwhelming evidence establishing that most users of vouchers under recent expansions of these policies have never attended public schools.

In his review of The Reality of Switchers, Michigan State University professor Joshua Cowen highlights the lack of credible research literature and the absence of an accepted methodology used by EdChoice to arrive at its conclusions.

What We're Reading

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

Inside a rural Iowa school district's fight to save public education

By: Zach Spindler-Krage, Iowa Central Dispatch

"You can disguise it whatever way you want," Mick said. "But you cannot underfund your public education year after year after year in regards to the cost of public education, versus the amount of money you're willing to put into it, and then act as if it's a surprise that schools are in trouble."

Using Artificial Intelligence Tools in K-12 Classrooms

By: Melissa Kay Diliberti, Heather L. Schwartz, Sy Doan, Anna Shapiro, Lydia R. Rainey, Robin J. Lake, RAND

As of fall 2023, 18 percent of K-12 teachers reported using AI for teaching and another 15 percent have tried AI at least once.

LGBTQ students wonder what's next as conservative states seek to block new Title IX rules

By: Erica Meltzer and Kalyn Belsha, Chalkbeat

Within two days of new Title IX rules being published Monday, top officials in 15 states announced they were suing to block the new rules from going into effect. In four separate lawsuits, Republican officials alleged the new rules endangered free speech and represented an attack on the very group Title IX was designed to protect: women.

Study finds segregation increasing in large districts - and school choice is a factor

By: Erica Meltzer, Chalkbeat

Over the last three decades, school segregation has been increasing - and it has increased the most within the large school districts that enroll many of the nation's students of color. Schools have become more segregated in these communities even as neighborhoods have become more racially mixed and as economic inequality between racial groups has declined. Two main factors are driving the increase: the end of most court oversight that required school districts to create integrated schools, and policies that favor school choice and parental preference.

Arizona's 'universal' education savings account program has become a handout to the wealthy

By: Jamie Klinenberg, Jon Valant, and Nicolas Zerbino, Brookings

In Arizona, more advantaged communities are securing a highly disproportionate share of the funds from the state's Empowerment Scholarship Account program. Families in the poorest communities are the least likely to obtain ESA funds.