2 Biggest K-12 Education Wins of 2015

2015 was a good year for K-12 education, and we had some great wins. Let’s look back at a couple of these accomplishments:

Social programs keep child poverty rates from doubling. More children are living in poverty conditions in the U.S. than official numbers present, according to a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The Measuring Access to Opportunity in the United States Report uses the Supplemental Poverty Measure, a standard first implemented by the U.S. Census in 2011 that measures the impact of important social programs like SNAP and the Earned Income Tax Credit on true poverty rates. It also accounts for rising costs and other changes that affect a family’s budget. Unlike the federal “poverty level” standard, the SPM takes geographical costs of living into account.

According to SPM measurements, without social assistance programs, the child poverty rate would almost double from its current 18 percent to 33 percent. Not surprisingly, children of color are more likely to live in poverty than their white peers. The report found that both Latino and African-American children have a 29 percent SPM rate, while white children sit at just 10 percent nationally.

A few other findings from the report:

• California has the highest child poverty rate, using the SPM, followed by Arizona and Nevada.
• States with some of the largest child populations, like Florida, New York, and Texas, have among the highest child poverty rates using the SPM. Poverty rates among southeastern states are also higher than the national average.
• The lowest rates are in the upper Midwest and northern New England.

So what do these findings mean for the children in our K-12 schools? Correlating a child’s poverty rate to success in life (and in school), The Annie E. Casey Foundation suggests the following steps:

• More support of quality early-childhood education opportunities.
• Expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit so families can keep more of their earnings.
• More access to programs like SNAP and child care and housing subsidies.
• Better job training and childcare support for parents.

You can read the full report here.

I’ve long believed that educational assistance is the biggest step towards breaking the cycle of poverty for all children, especially minorities. When we look at our future generations, the key to eradicating poverty lies in the opportunities we provide kids in our K-12 schools and the assistance we give their families to raise their quality of life.

K-12 education news coverage on the rise. Mainstream media drive conversations, so analyzing what is being covered in the news gives a general indication of public perception on issues.

A new report from leading education reform policy strategist Andrew R. Campanella, titled “Leading the News – 25 Years of Education Coverage,” reveals how news media has presented K-12 education stories over the past quarter-century. So what does education news coverage look like?

In short, coverage of K-12 education in the news media is on the rise — up 7.7 percent in 2014 over the average of the 25-year span.

Not surprisingly, local news outlets provide the most education news coverage. In fact, local news outlets commit 6.82 percent of their air time to covering K-12 education or schools. That’s nearly three times higher than the national news coverage average of just 2.3 percent. What’s more is that local education news coverage appears to be on the rise.

From 2010 to 2014, the top education news story topic by far was sports, garnering 13.6 percent. At a distant second was special events (5.1 percent), followed by education funding (5 percent) and academic subjects (4.65 percent). As far as groups of people, students get the most mentions at 62 percent, followed by administrators (42.7 percent), teachers (28.3 percent), and parents (23.5 percent).

Coverage of educational policy is on the decline though — down 36 percent in 2014 over the 25-year average. Within the education policy category, funding and school choice were the most-covered topics. These two topics garnered 2.5 times more coverage than all other educational policy reporting combined (which includes 10 other specific issues).

Looking ahead, the report forecasts that coverage of school choice, school safety, and state education standards will continue to rise while teacher issues, funding, federal programs, and class sizes will continue to decline.

This is just a snapshot of all the report entails. You can read the rest of it by clicking here.

I can’t say I’m very surprised that local outlets provide the most coverage on K-12 education, but I was surprised to see that funding and federal programs are seeing less air time. I’d be interested to see an update of this report in another 5 years to find out if the trends in K-12 educational coverage continue on the same path.

What were the biggest wins for P-20 education in 2015? What did I miss?

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