1) California and Arkansas School District
Statistics Posted. EIA has updated district enrollment, teacher
workforce, spending and labor cost statistics for California and Arkansas,
using the latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department
of Education's Common Core of Data. Both Arkansas' 252 districts and
California's 1,019 districts are listed in order of enrollment size.
Observers with specific knowledge of those districts
will no doubt find nuggets of their own, but the following caught my eye:
* Between 2001 and 2006, enrollment in Arkansas'
Bentonville district increased by more than 46 percent, while the number of
teachers increased by almost 51 percent.
* In a state long known for low school expenditures,
per-pupil spending in the Little Rock school district reached $9,973 in 2006
– more than $800 above the national average.
* Overall enrollment growth in the state of California
is stagnant, but that hides the volatile movements from district to
district. There are districts with significant drops in enrollment (San
Diego, San Francisco, Oakland), and others with huge spikes in enrollment
(Elk Grove, Corona, Kern).
* Clovis Unified is now the 20th largest
school district in the state, and noteworthy because its
1,800 teachers do not have, and have never had, a union.
The tables are located at
http://www.eiaonline.com/districts.htm. District statistics for all
other states will be added over the next several weeks.
2) Did School District Boundaries Lead to Mortgage
Crunch? That's the provocative thesis of Cornell University economist
Robert H. Frank. Writing in the April 27
Washington Post, Frank suggests families fell victim to
overborrowing in order to get their kids into better public schools:
"It is no surprise that two-income families would
choose to spend much of their extra income on better education. And because
the best schools are in the most expensive neighborhoods, the imperative was
clear: To gain access to the best possible public school, you had to
purchase the most expensive house you could afford.
"But what works for any individual family does not work
for society as a whole. The problem is that a 'good' school is a relative
concept: It is one that is better than other schools in the same area. When
we all bid for houses in better school districts, we merely bid up the
prices of those houses….
"The best jobs go to graduates from the best colleges,
and because only the best-prepared students are accepted to those colleges,
it is quixotic to expect parents to bypass an opportunity to send their
children to the best elementary and secondary schools they can. The
financial deregulation that enabled them to bid ever larger amounts for
houses in the best school districts essentially guaranteed a housing bubble
that would leave millions of families dangerously overextended.
"Congress should not bail out speculators and
fraudulent borrowers. But neither should it be too quick to condemn families
that borrowed what the lending system offered rather than send their
children to inferior schools."
You don't have to agree with Frank's analysis to
recognize that literal "school choice" is already a reality for those with
the means to live where they please. Any effort that expands choices for
those who can't afford to move to a better neighborhood should be
3) That's Why It's Called the Golden State. In
an effort to prepare members for a dues increase, United Teachers Los
Angeles (UTLA) Treasurer David Goldberg helpfully published a table in the
April 18 United Teacher comparing UTLA dues to those of New York City
and other large locals in California. EIA reproduces it here:
New York City - $1,100
Long Beach - $1,030
Oakland - $988
Corona - $984
Elk Grove - $979.60
San Francisco - $967
San Diego - $963.70
San Bernardino - $959.70
Santa Ana - $953
Sacramento - $948
Fresno - $901.60
UTLA - $689.04
4) Last Week's Intercepts. EIA's blog,
Intercepts, covered these topics from April 22-28:
Obama: Democratic Party Line = Teachers' Union? Can Obama really have it
both ways on merit pay?
Labor Bills Getting Mixed Reception. Democratic state legislators
getting cold feet?
Seniors Without Seniority. What goes around comes around.
5) Quote of the Week. "Unions do a lousy job
telling our story because credit is not what we are about. We are about
getting the job done." – David Hecker, president of AFT Michigan (April 24
workshop will focus on two strategies that will assist local unions in
building coalitions in the community (through positive PR). The objective is
to build a 'friendly' base that will be informed and more willing to help
support the local union when the time comes." – from a description of an AFT
Michigan "Community Outreach Initiative (Public Relations) Workshop" held on
April 12, part of "Strengthening
the Union/Collective Bargaining Agenda."