January 2024


Bill Aims to Address Racial Disparities In AP Course Enrollments In Mass., WBZ News Radio (also featured in 3 other new outlets), 01/31/24
Schools where the majority of students are Black or Latino are “much less likely” to offer AP courses compared to majority-white schools, according to EdTrust’s brief. That aligns with national trends, said Kristen Hengtgen, a senior policy analyst at EdTrust who co-authored the brief. A patchwork of rules for handling AP test scores exists at Massachusetts public colleges and universities, with some accepting a passing score of a 3, with others demanding higher scores or not taking any AP credits, lawmakers and Hengtgen said. The AP tests are scored 1 to 5.

Report: 39% of TN school districts receive less in per-student funding than students using proposed private school vouchers, WPLN News (also featured on 91.3 fm WKMS), 01/29/24
For example, the voucher money is projected to exceed the state’s per-student spending in Metro Nashville and Williamson County Schools by more than $2,000. “And this really demonstrates an opportunity cost, that there’s additional money for districts that’s being allocated towards vouchers,” said Breanna Sommers. She authored the report and serves as senior policy analyst for The Education Trust in Tennessee. “And I’m particularly thinking about inflation costs after Covid. I’m thinking about needing to hire teachers and bus drivers, particularly in our rural communities.”

Education Trust leader warns about effects of expanding Tennessee school voucher program, The Tennessean (also featured in 4 other outlets), 01/29/24
On Episode 388 of the Tennessee Voices video podcast, Gini Pupo-Walker, executive director of The Education Trust — Tennessee, spoke about this and other important education issues. Pupo-Walker has worked for public schools, served in a nonprofit leadership role and was elected to a term on the Nashville School Board prior to taking on her current position. The topics we discussed, in addition to school vouchers, were what it means to “fully fund” public schools, the school-to-workforce pipeline, and the threats of censorship, book banning, and eliminating diversity, equity and inclusion programs in K-12 and/or higher education.

Virginia legislators look to update outdated school funding formula, WVTF Radio IQ, 01/16/24
“It allows you to better target additional resources to specific student groups according to their needs,” said Education Trust’s Qubilah Huddleston. And while Huddleston praised the student-based model, she said that alone wouldn’t be enough…Further comparisons to Tennessee’s recent education funding overhaul were made by Education Trust’s Gini Pupo-Walker. The Volunteer State notably revamped their system within a year, a record pace, but one Pupo-Walker said wasn’t impossible.
“Tennessee really felt it was urgent not to just put more money in the formula, but redesign from scratch how funding is delivered, based on profile,” Pupo-Walker said. “That process was speedy; it created some heartburn in advocates… but the formula was strong out of the gate.”

Texas’ school ratings remain in limbo as the state and school districts fight over how strict the grading should be, Texas Tribune (also featured in The 74 and 28 other outlets), 01/16/24
“This decision leaves local school system leaders, community members, and families without one of their only tools for understanding school performance and advocating for essential programs and resources specifically designed to lift up their most underserved students,” said Jonathan Feinstein, director of The Education Trust in Texas.

California needs to do more to ensure teachers can teach kids to read, national study says, Ed Source, 01/16/24
“Why do we see staggering numbers of children, especially children of color and from low-income backgrounds, without fundamental literacy skills? said Denise Forte, president and CEO of The Education Trust. “Because in many districts and schools nationwide, outdated teaching methods and curricula that have been proven ineffective, and even harmful, are still being used.”

Student Showcase to Celebrate National School Choice Week, Highlight Strengths of School Communities, PR Newswire (also featured in 200 other outlets), 01/15/24
Organizers hope that as a result of the event, additional parents from across the Pelican State will explore the education options available for their children and speak up for the options they want in the future. At the Education Trust, our goal is to ensure that parents and students feel seen, heard, and valued as it relates to their educational journey,” said Tramelle D. Howard of Education Trust. “We know this event will spotlight some of the amazing work happening in our community.”

Massachusetts’ Public Schools Have Been Grappling with Educational Inequity for Decades. Cambridge has a Solution, Harvard Political Review, 01/05/24
The Massachusetts Educational Equity Partnership echoes Merseth’s claims about the dangers of educational inequity. Early education is an important factor in this, as Genesis Carela, the Massachusetts Policy Associate at The Education Trust, which leads and convenes MEEP, stated. “In Massachusetts, only about 5.4% of families can afford infant care, according to the Health and Human Services index.” Carela also pointed to the proven racial disparities that contribute to these gaps, such as a lower amount of Latinx children being enrolled in early-education programs as compared to their white counterparts.

HISD trustee: I like what I’ve seen of the reforms (Opinion), Houston Chronicle, 01/05/24

As I wrap up my time on the HISD board, I will continue to keep the students at the top of my mind. I ask you to do the same. The board of managers recently set bold goals for students’ early reading and math performance. Monitor the progress towards these goals every month, let the results speak for themselves, and continue to hold our leaders accountable. Our students cannot afford to wait or waste time. We should want a system that aims to level the playing field, granting them the opportunity to access a quality education and realize their full potential.

Higher Education

7 Higher Education Issues To Watch In 2024 State Legislative Sessions, Forbes, 01/07/24
According to a summary by The Education Trust, more than 45 bills were introduced across the states in 2023 targeting diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts in higher education. While most of these bills didn’t make it into law, Texas Senate Bill 17 did go into effect January 1, banning DEI offices and initiatives at public colleges in the state. Institutions now must prove their compliance with the law to receive state funding for next fiscal year. Other DEI bans were passed earlier in Florida and Tennessee.

Texas’ education funding revamp brings big changes, Marketplace Radio (also featured in Society Mag), 01/05/24

This year, Flores said the revamp is bringing his schools $20 million in additional funding. Some of that is going toward advocacy centers that help students stay in school when they’re in a bind. “Perhaps they have to go to the emergency room and they need to pay that deductible,” Flores said. “And with the additional state funding this year we now provide 24/7 mental health care.” The new formula doesn’t just pull from a bigger pot of money. It also moves away from the traditional enrollment-based approach, according to Jonathan Feinstein, who advocated for the new law with The Education Trust.

A new way to fund Texas community colleges focuses on student success, not enrollment, Texas Tribune (also featured in 16 other outlets), 01/02/24

Proponents of the new funding formula believe it will help community college students and the state economy as a growing number of high-demand, self-sustaining jobs in Texas require credentials beyond a high school diploma. “It’s about making sure that community colleges have a source of sustainable funding to innovate and to keep up with that pace of change,” Jonathan Feinstein, of Education Trust in Texas, said.