Low-rated public schools in Louisiana are much more likely than highly rated ones to have teachers who are uncertified or are teaching outside their area of expertise, according to a survey released last week by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. The Advocate’s Will Sentell reports that the numbers confirm what many education observers have long suspected: that the best teachers tend to stay away from the places where they’re needed the most.
“Teachers gravitate to the environment that they think is the most conducive to them,” said Gary Jones, president of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and a longtime educator. “A-rated schools are great places to work,” Jones added. “And it is difficult to get people to work in poverty-stricken schools and those with free and reduced lunches.” The survey carries special relevance since 2018 public school letter grades are set to be released by the state Department of Education on Nov. 8.
New Orleans invests in child care
The future success of New Orleans depends on its ability to educate future generations. And that education, research clearly shows, must begin as early as possible. This year, for the first time, the city invested money in early care and education, allocating $750,000 to provide services for 50 children spread among six child care centers. That’s a great start. But as the Nola.com/The Times-Picayune editorial board notes, it’s not nearly enough:
There are 571 children on the waiting list for the new program, which is managed by the New Orleans Early Childhood Network. Only 23 percent of lower-income children from birth to 4 in the city have access to early care and education, advocates say. And, according to EnrollNOLA, every publicly funded program in New Orleans serving children 3 and under has a waiting list. As Mayor LaToya Cantrell puts together the budget for the next fiscal year, early education advocates are asking for the city to double its investment. A working group appointed by the Orleans Parish School Board wants the board to match the city’s allocation. That $3 million would start to make a serious dent in the program’s waiting list. It also would show that New Orleans is committed to making high-quality child care and education a priority.
Pricing out the poor (cont …)
Reaction continues to pour in to a recent report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities that found Louisiana has cut state support for higher education farther than any other state – and filled the gap by raising tuition on students. Columnist James Gill, writing in The Advocate, looks at the broad disparity in funding between the merit-based TOPS program and the need-based Go Grants scholarships.
The CBPP’s concern in Louisiana must be for those students who do not have the grades or test scores required for TOPS. The state does allocate money to subsidize poor kids who would otherwise not be able to attend college — what are known as Go Grants are reserved for Pell Grant recipients — but the program, according to the Louisiana Budget Project, is “chronically underfunded.” While the $28.4 million appropriated for the coming year is the highest ever, it has risen only $2.4 million since 2008. That amount was inadequate even before state cutbacks forced tuition to rise. Tuition at Louisiana schools is equal to 19.4 percent of the median family income. For whites it is 15.6 percent, for blacks 31.7 percent and for Hispanics 22.6 percent. Clearly, a lot of kids are being shut out because their parents are too hard up.
The Advocate adds some context in its lede Sunday editorial:
State aid is vital, and not just the popular tuition waiver programs like TOPS in Louisiana and HOPE scholarships in Georgia. In 2017, the CBPP report said, “tuition revenue exceeded state and local funding for higher education in 28 states. And in 15 states, tuition revenue constituted at least 60 percent of higher education revenue used for instructional purposes.” This shift should give more impetus to the call for a greater state role in supporting institutions. For one example, gaining a top research professor is not just a matter of raising faculty salaries but equipping a laboratory or other costs. Tuition is not the answer to those issues. After a decade of budget cuts, state aid for LSU is now about the same as it was in 1991, President F. King Alexander said recently. Many other campuses can point to the same dolorous trends. That’s not good for the state’s future.
Administering ‘Medicare for All’
Many Democratic candidates in the midterm elections are touting “Medicare for All” as the answer to America’s health-care problems. Those who support allowing anyone to enroll in the popular entitlement program note that it would come with significant savings in overhead costs, which are higher in America than anywhere else in the world. Austin Frakt, writing in The New York Times’ Upshot blog, says the big picture is a bit more complicated, since many Medicare beneficiaries get their care through private Medicare Advantage plans that have higher administrative costs than traditional Medicare. Still, health care remains one area where the federal government is actually far more efficient than the private sector.
Making an accurate estimate of the administrative costs of Medicare for All would depend, in part, on whether it would be more like an expansion of traditional Medicare (with its 1.1 percent administrative cost rate) or of all of Medicare, including its private plans (with a combined 7 percent administrative cost rate). Yet both figures are well below private insurers’ administrative costs, which run about 13 percent of spending (this also includes profit), according to America’s Health Insurance Plans, an advocacy organization for the industry.
Number of the Day
33 – Percentage of teachers in “F” rated public schools in Louisiana who are either uncertified or teaching in a field outside their area of expertise. In “A” rated schools, the figure is 19 percent. (Source: BESE via The Advocate)