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October 12, 2009

1)  EIA Exclusive: NEA Looking to Settle NCLB Lawsuit. Remember Pontiac v. Spellings? It's the lawsuit that the National Education Association and a handful of school districts filed against the U.S. Department of Education in April 2005 claiming the No Child Left Behind Act was an unfunded federal mandate.

Despite evidence that NEA's general counsel had his own doubts about the legal principles involved, the union pursued the case to the U.S. Sixth District Court of Appeals, where it has sat without decision for almost a year.

Well, we have a Democrat in the White House now, so NEA decided to recalculate the benefits of continuing to seek legal remedies. Sources within NEA tell EIA that the union is in negotiations with the U.S. Department of Education in an attempt to reach a settlement of the case.

NEA seems to feel that the lawsuit's objectives have largely been met, though that feeling is difficult to square with the union's reaction to the Race to the Top guidelines issued by the Obama administration. It also remains to be seen what, if anything, the administration would have to sacrifice to settle a moribund lawsuit.

2)  District Spending Tables Revived. There were many delays, from the Census Bureau release of the raw data to the posting of the final product, but EIA's famous district enrollment, hiring and spending tables for 13,836 operating public school districts in the United States are available for your perusal.

The tables contain four numbers for each district for the 2006-07 school year (the most recent year for which comprehensive statistics are available): K-12 enrollment, full-time equivalent teachers, per-pupil spending, and spending per-pupil on employee compensation. The tables also include the changes (up or down) in those figures from five years previous.

A few highlights:

* The New York City school district dropped below 1 million students, but increased staffing to nearly 71,000 teachers. Spending over the 2002-2007 period increased more than 45 percent.

* Six of the 10 largest districts saw a decrease in enrollment and a seventh, Broward County in Florida, experienced only a 0.3% increase in five years.

* Most of the fastest growing districts (more than 20% increase in enrollment) have kept pace or greatly exceeded that growth in teacher hiring.

* In 2006-07, sixteen states spent more than $10,000 per pupil. EIA estimates that seven more states, plus the national average, exceed the $10,000 level today.

All the per-pupil spending figures are based on full enrollment, which are considerably less than those based on average daily attendance (ADA). Think of it this way: spending based on enrollment assumes every student shows up for school every day. Spending based on ADA corrects for the number of students who are absent on an average day.

3)  Contract Hits. Wherein we highlight a contract provision from the current agreement between the National Education Association and its largest staff union. This is Article 28, Section 2:

" During the term of this contract, a total of 500* hours of time off, with pay, every contract year shall be granted to employees designated by the Union for Union business. Unused balances may be carried over to the following contract year."

*The latest contract provision allows 700 release time hours for 2009, 1,000 for 2010 and 700 for 2011.

4)  Last Week's Intercepts. EIA's blog, Intercepts, covered these topics from October 5-12:

* NEA Sends $200,000 to Washington to Fight Initiative 1033. Because limiting spending increases to population growth and inflation would be "devastating."

*  Kansas NEA on ObamaCare: Never Heard of It. Will health insurance cover collective amnesia?

*  I Am a Fugitive from a (Bicycle) Chain Gang. A peloton of nincompoops.

*  Click Here for Related Items. Supporting material for last week's communiqué.

*  Who Lost the Boston Globe? Deserting the sinking ship.

5)  Quote of the Week #1. "I'll be the first to admit I was one of the staunchest opponents [of charters] and waged a real battle in my own school district in Central Islip. The world has changed since then. Charter schools are established." – New York State United Teachers President Richard Iannuzzi. (October 9 New York Post)

Quote of the Week #2. "Buffalo is 'oversaturated' with charter schools, and the state should be more demanding when it is asked to create new charter schools here or to relicense existing ones, the president of New York State’s teachers union said here Wednesday. 'I would say Buffalo has, unfortunately, more than reached a saturation point,' said Richard Iannuzzi, president of New York State United Teachers. 'It makes it almost a side-by-side school district, and you can't function like that.'" – from the October 8 Buffalo News.

Quote of the Week #3. "The upshot of Mr. Iannuzzi's presentation yesterday is: there's too many charter schools, I don't want any more, but if they show up I want their money!" – Peter Murphy, director of policy and communications for the New York Charter Schools Association. (October 8 The Chalkboard)


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