Education

STUDENT BASED BUDGETING CONCENTRATES LOW BUDGET SCHOOLS IN CHICAGO’S BLACK NEIGHBORHOODS

In 2014, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) adopted a system-wide Student Based Budgeting model for determining individual school budgets. Our report examines the impact of Student Based Budgeting. Our findings show that CPS’ putatively color-blind Student Based Budgeting reproduces racial inequality by concentrating low budget public schools almost exclusively in Chicago’s Black neighborhoods. The clustering of low budget schools in low-income Black neighborhoods adds another layer of hardship in neighborhoods experiencing distress from depopulation, low incomes, and unaffordable housing.

REGRESSIVE ILLINOIS: SCHOOL FUNDING, DISTRICT-LEVEL PERFORMANCE, AND ITS IMPLICATIONS FOR REVENUE AND SPENDING POLICIES

While equitable funding of K-12 public school has become an acute issue in many states, Illinois ranks among the most inequitable in its mechanisms for dispersing revenues to school districts. Illinois property taxes are the primary means for financing schools. However, due to very low state general aid, many property owners pay very high property taxes to support their schools. Consequently, the need for increased state support comes at a time when legislators have repeatedly proposed to freeze property taxes permanently, or for two to four years. Additionally, statewide bills have been introduced since 2012 that would shift pension costs, currently picked up by the state (excluding Chicago), to school districts.

This research report from the Project for Middle Class Renewal in the School of Labor and Employment Relations at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign examines the relationship between school revenue and achievement levels in Illinois.

We first examine data on local school districts from 2011-2012 to 2016-2017 to explore and illustrate how revenue and expenditures vary by rates of low-income students and other key indicators. We find at the district level, higher instructional spending is associated with statistically significant improvement in aggregate student proficiency levels, after controlling for disadvantage and other characteristics at the district level.  This positive relationship generally parallels the findings of recent studies that have concluded that money does in fact matter for education.

ELEMENTARY TEACHERS’ WORK-RELATED STRESSORS AND STRAIN

International surveys conducted by the European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) found that teachers in their union suffer significantly from stress (ETUCE, 2011). Furthermore, survey data in the United States reveals that teaching is a “high stress” profession (Kyriacou, 2000). The harm caused by this stress is evident by the high rates of teacher attrition and teacher shortages. Despite these findings, teacher stress has yet to be examined over time. Also, researchers have yet to examine how the increasing use of communication technology (i.e., email, text messages) has impacted teachers’ well-being and job outcomes. It seems many teachers have to deal with constant pressure to respond to emails throughout the day. Many teachers even get email sent directly to their personal phone. This can disturb teachers even while they are away from work. These messages may make it more difficult for teachers to control their emotions, which may lead to increased stress and turnover intentions. In addition, they suffer stress from difficult students and inadequate school resources such as workplace social supports and school policies.

HIGH-IMPACT HIGHER EDUCATION: UNDERSTANDING THE COSTS OF THE RECENT BUDGET IMPASSE IN ILLINOIS

Investing in higher education is a smart economic development policy that boosts incomes, supports employment, and grows the economy. Illinois has world-class public universities and community colleges that serve as economic engines in local communities. The recent budget crisis in Illinois, however, had negative impacts on public universities and community colleges in the state. This report assesses the positive economic impacts of public universities and colleges in Illinois and measures the costs of the two-year budget impasse.

CLOSED BY CHOICE: THE SPATIAL RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CHARTER SCHOOL EXPANSION, SCHOOL CLOSURES, AND FISCAL STRESS IN CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Over the past five years, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has confronted annual budget crises prompting CPS to cut resources from classrooms, reduce the number of teaching professionals inside schools, and close public schools. Our research examines how the proliferation of charter schools in neighborhoods of declining population has contributed to CPS’ fiscal stress resulting in the widespread denigration of public education in Chicago.

ALTERNATIVE STATE AND LOCAL OPTIONS TO FUND PUBLIC K-12 EDUCATION IN ILLINOIS

Illinois needs to revamp its system of funding public education. Currently, school districts receive the bulk of their revenue from property taxes. With relatively high property tax rates and funding inequities across the state, raising property taxes in Illinois is often not an option for school districts. There are alternative policies that can be enacted at both the state- and local-level to enhance revenue for public education in Illinois. This report identifies six potential ways to increase revenue for public school districts.

A HIGHLY EDUCATED CLASSROOM: ILLINOIS TEACHERS ARE NOT OVERPAID

This report finds that public school teachers in Illinois are highly skilled and are compensated accordingly through competitive salaries. Properly understanding teacher pay is critical to developing an efficient teacher compensation structure. Teachers in Illinois are among the best-educated in the nation and earn appropriate incomes that reward their skill. Illinois’ teachers are highly educated, with over 62 percent of full-time public elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers in the state having earned a master’s degree. An additional 36 percent of full-time public school teachers have a bachelor’s degree. These highly skilled educators help foster the next generation of workers and innovators who will grow Illinois’ economy.