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Majority of Southerners Support Increased Education Spending

A recent large-scale poll illustrates just how much people in the South support public education. After results of The Education Poll of the South were analyzed, it was found that 84% of the respondents believe that the state should adjust school funding to achieve more parity between communities. Additionally, 57% of respondents were willing to trade off tax increases for increasing spending in education.

There were 2,200 total respondents from across 12 states. The poll was given by a group of seven nonprofit and nonpartisan organizations associated with education.

Across the country, isolated urban areas (think Manhattan and the wealthiest parts of California’s Bay Area and Los Angeles) and affluent suburban regions are relatively well-funded, have students who come from well-education families, and have strong parental participation. Just miles away, there are districts where single parents are struggling to get food on the table, kids come to kindergarten without strong foundations, and drop-out rates are high.

This is just as true, if not more so, in the South. States have high-performing districts like those in the Atlanta suburbs and low-performing schools in rural communities and downtrodden urban areas.

It seems that citizens are recognizing the fact that specific communities may need varying levels of support, especially in terms of financing a system that can attend to the needs of the students.

It remains to be seen whether the study’s findings will be reflected in the polls and whether a change in governing can lead to improvements in student achievement. What is known, though, is that the problem of inequity is an established one, and that many would be supportive of increased efforts to raise education spending.

Inspiring Teachers Making a Difference

Stop for a moment and think about the teachers that inspired you to keep giving your best. Day after day, they were there encouraging you to keep trying. Perhaps, it was the high-school-science teacher who helped you construct your first rocket that inspired your astronomy career. it may have been your junior-high-social-studies teacher who made you believe in yourself because of his constant praise at a time when you felt less than confident. Across the United States, LRNG Innovators starts out each year to look for the most innovative teachers.

John Legend, director of LRNG Innovators, announced the ten 2017 winners for the third year of the program. Each educator is then charged with sharing the word about their program. Winners include:

Let ‘Em Shine- Students attending the Albemarle County Public Schools are encouraged to make their own digital monuments showcasing the people of Charlottesville, Virginia. Students can choose from a variety of digital formats ranging from slides to songwriting.

Making A Future for All: Connecting Passion To Profession- Students attending middle school in Bath County Middle School in Owingsville, Kentucky, are encouraged to create a multimedia project about a career they want to pursue. Students will work with high school students to create a presentation to show to elementary students.

Philly School Media Network: With the support of paid journalists and writing teachers, students attending Edison High School, George Washington Carver High School and Henry C. Lea Elementary School will be encouraged to let their voices be heard about issues affecting Philadelphia.

Green is the New Pink: Girls in grades 8 through 11 will choose a citizen-science project that they will work on throughout the year. The projects created by students in Oxford, Mississippi, will then be presented on the University of Mississippi campus.

OneCity Stories: Students in Saint Louis’ Gateway Writing Project will connect with other students crossing neighborhood boundaries to prove that students are more alike than they are different. Students will present their work at various venues across the city.

Choice and Voice: Students in the rural Bastrop, Texas, school district will participate in the Heart of Texas writing project to write Wiki-type articles showcasing Bastrop.

Tebow Bill Shot Down, Southeasterners Want To See Public School Spending Go Up

The Education Poll of the South recently surveyed educators, parents, and community members from the twelve states it serves regarding their attitudes towards public education. Collectively, the Southeastern think tank found that the average voter was in favor of beefing up spending on public education.

Public Education Is Highly Valued In 2018’s Southeast

Of 2,200-odd respondents, a whopping 84 percent indicated their respective states should account for financial differences between low-income and wealthy communities’ public schools, in terms of beefing up financing for disadvantaged schools.

The survey found that respondents were in favor of increasing funding even if government agencies were forced to tone down their respective budgets in areas outside of education.

57 percent of all individuals polled were OK with paying higher taxes if it meant more schools in low-income areas would receive higher funding.

Tebow Bill Shot Down In Virginia

Tim Tebow, quarterback for the Florida Gators over a decade ago, was able to play football in high school, despite being homeschooled. Named after the two-time Heisman Trophy winner himself, the “Tebow bill” was recently voted on in Virginia.

Students would have been able to compete in public school sports, although they’re unable to do so, as Virginian bill was recently shot down.

The only Republican in Virginia’s state congress to vote against the Tebow bill was Gordon Helsel.

Formally named House Bill 496, the education committee, the committee responsible for voting on the so-called Tebow bill, originally supported the bill. However, after a tied vote, the Tebow bill was directed to the House of Delegates, which was promptly shot down.

Rob Bell, a Republican out of Charlettesville, originally sponsored House Bill 496. The Richmond Times-Dispatch was the first to report on the outcome of House Bill 496.

Public Education in Arizona Set for Change with Proposed Law

At his first official address for 2017, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey delivered a substantial portion of his speech to talking about Proposition 123, which is considered by many to be a reform of the state’s school system.

 

The amendments and improvements being proposed include a new funding system that would stay ahead of the looming inflation. This new financial system would not require an increase in taxes; however, it only guarantees adequate funding for the next few years. Log-term funding would have to be tackled by the next Governor, who may very well be Ducey if he seeks reelection.

 

What is interesting about Proposition 123 is how it intends to obtain funds to cover public education: Arizona is one of a handful of states that has a public Land Trust that can serve as a source of funding. Proposition 123 calls for active management of the State Land Trust so that all the revenue earned goes back into the trust for reinvestment.

 

Prior to the introduction of Proposition 123, the Arizona public school system used to receive 2.5 percent of the State Land Trust, currently valued at $5 billion. The new law increases that rate to 6.9 percent. What is important about this reform is that the Land Trust managers must be very skilled in keeping it profitable. The Wall Street climate of 2016 certainly helped in this regard, but this is not a guarantee for 2017.

 

With the new reforms in place, Arizona now has plenty of money to ensure that all public schools can provide textbooks to their students. Proposition 123 also guarantees raises in the salaries of Arizona teachers; all the same, these raises may not be enough to prevent educators from fleeing to neighboring states such as California and Colorado, where the are bound to earn more.

Small-county School District Expanding

In spite of the recent pessimism and negativity toward public education and the education system in general, in Beaufort–a small county in South Carolina–the public school district is experiencing a growing influx of new students. Over the past 4 years, the number of students enrolled in Beaufort Schools has grown by more than 2500, and it looks like the trend is going to continue this year.

In an interview with the local CBS affiliate, Dr. Jeff Moss, superintendent pf the Beaufort County School District, stated that Beaufort County schools would be welcoming anywhere between 150 and 500 more students this school year than were enrolled last year. While these numbers are hopeful, more children receiving an education is always good, they are not without their downsides.

Moss stated his apprehension that if the number of students continues to rise as it had, the district may start running into problems of not having enough space for all of the students. To help combat this problem, the district has started construction on two new expansions for a county middle school and a county high school. The district is also planning the construction of two entirely new schools in a county town.

Moss sees the growing number of students primarily as a blessing, though. He says that this statistic represents something else: choice. It represents both the fact that more and more parents are choosing to send their students to public schools over private schools or homeschooling, and that because of that it represents the parents’ ability to make that choice.

While the rapidly-expanding student body in Beaufort County schools comes with its own set of challenges, many other areas around the country may want to look to them to see how they might deal with similar challenges.