Lisa Gibes is 50CAN’s vice president of strategy and external relations. She lives in San Francisco, CA.

I’m the new Assistant to the President at 50CAN and will now be posting daily clips of what educators, advocates, policy wonks and makers are saying. Enjoy!

News & analysis:

Cost to Raise a Child: Around $300,000, Not Including College

Middle-income parents who welcomed a new child last year can expect to spend nearly $300,000 over the next 17 years, according to a new report.The U.S. Department of Agriculture prepares an annual report about families’ expenditures on children for use in developing state child-support and foster-care guidelines. Annual child-rearing expense estimates ranged between $12,290 and $14,320 for a child in a two-child, married-couple family in the middle-income group, which is defined as a before-tax income between $59,410 and $102,870. The amount spent on a child by families in the highest income group, on average, was more than twice the amount spent by families in the lowest income group. A child born last year to someone in the lowest income group would cost $212,370 over 17 years, compared to $490,830 for highest earners.The biggest share of the expense in raising a child, according to the report, is housing at 30%, followed by child-care and education at 18%, food at 16%, transportation at 14% and health care at 8%.The report has been compiled since 1960, when adjusted for inflation, a middle-income two parent household would have spent around $192,000 over 17 years in 2011 dollars to raise a child. The biggest change over 50 years is the share of expenses going to child-care and education, which was just 2% in 1960. On a regional basis, it cost the most to raise a child in the urban northeast of the U.S. and least in rural areas of the country. (WSJ Blog)

Do teachers have it rougher than the rest of the working class?

MPR reporter Tim Post has a very compelling story today about the burnout experienced by teachers at the end of the school year. It was, by all accounts, a difficult year for teachers, what with their holding a job that requires them to spend a day with dozens of kids — could you? — and having a job that puts them in the public eye and makes them easy targets for criticism. Just one thing is missing from the complaint: A solution. Teacher morale is eroding; that’s not new. MPR’s Daily Circuit did a show on it a few months ago, following a survey from Metropolitan Life that showed almost 1 of every 3 teachers is contemplating doing something else. “No one wants to think that their work is undervalued or being blamed,” Sandi Jacobs, vice president of the National Council on Teacher Quality, said. “The rhetoric has been so heated that it makes it hard for teachers to feel good day in and day out. ” Wait! There are people who feel good about work day in and day out? The Met Life survey found that fewer than half of those teachers surveyed said they were very satisfied with their jobs. That was described as the worst morale in 20 years. But the report also said that 81 percent are somewhat or very satisfied. And only 30-some percent said they were somewhat or very unsatisfied. Curiously, while 81 percent said they were satisfied with their work, only 54% said they were optimistic that student achievement will get any better. What do we make of 27% of teachers being satisfied while being pessimistic about the improved student achievement? These numbers, if they can be believed, tell another story when compared to the rest of the working world: teachers have it better. (Minnesota Public Radio)

New Jersey:

Seniority not challenged in latest version of teacher tenure reform bill

A tenure reform bill set to be considered by legislators next week will no longer strip teachers of their seniority rights, a provision Gov. Chris Christie has said he considers a top education reform priority. Under current law, teachers with the most years of experience are protected when budget cuts or declining enrollment force school districts to lay off staff. State Sen. Teresa Ruiz’s original bill (S1455), introduced earlier this year, set out to change this practice, which can force districts to fire some of their most promising young educators, but could not muster enough support from lawmakers to do so. On Monday, Ruiz will introduce amendments to her tenure reform bill that will eliminate sections of the legislation dealing with seniority rights. Though the legislation will link teacher tenure to regular evaluations for the first time, the fact that the bill with not deal with the seniority issue has some education advocates calling the amended bill “a disappointment.” (NJ Star Ledger)


Reading, Pennsylvania: Poorest U.S. City Loses Pre-Kindergarten, 170 Teachers

Eighth-grader Selena Karner lined up in her Reading, Pa., middle school auditorium last week to receive an award for language arts. But during what would normally be a joyous moment for her teachers, educators were crying in the audience. Many were absent. Teachers were less than joyous for the awards ceremony because 110 of them received pink slips earlier that day, placing them on unpaid leave until further notice. In addition, they learned 60 retiring teachers would not be replaced. The schools of America’s poorest city had run out of cash and cleaving 13 percent of the teachers from the payroll was just the beginning. Reading will lose pre-kindergarten entirely next year. Special courses in industrial arts will be curtailed. Selena’s mom, Malissa Karner, said she expects her children’s classes to grow to 40 or 50 students because of the shortage of space and personnel. Selena Karner started a Facebook group to advocate for the city’s teachers, who were furloughed based on seniority. (Huffington Post)

New York:

Reacting to Criticism, Cuomo Adds to His Education Commission

Seeking to address complaints about the makeup of his new education reform commission, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has added five additional members to the panel in advance of its first meeting later this month. The new appointees include a parent advocate from Rochester, a newly elected school board member from the Adirondacks and a district superintendent from Central New York — three constituencies that the governor was criticized for not including on the panel when he announced it in April. The commission, which is being led by the former Citigroup chairman Richard D. Parsons, has also gained two more well-known names from Wall Street: Sanford I. Weill, another former Citigroup chairman, and Stanley F. Druckenmiller, a billionaire hedge fund manager.

In addition to confirming the new appointees, Mr. Cuomo’s office on Thursday released a schedule of meetings for the commission, which is due to report back to the governor by December. The panel will hold 11 meetings around the state, beginning June 26 in New York City and ending Oct. 22 in the Finger Lakes region. Like many of the commission’s other members, several of the new members, whose names were reported by The Wall Street Journal on Thursday, have been vocal supporters of the governor. The newly appointed parent advocate is Carrie Remis, the executive director of the Parent Power Project, an advocacy group in Rochester that has praised Mr. Cuomo’s “bold leadership” in the area of education. (New York Time’s SchoolBook blog)


Teachers union wisely puts quality ahead of seniority

The compromise agreement between the Massachusetts Teachers Association and the advocacy group Stand for Children doesn’t provide absolute assurance that every child in the state will havethe benefit of a competent, dedicated teacher. But it does push the system in that direction, albeit slowly. Stand for Children was plowing ahead with a tough ballot initiative that would have eliminated nearly all aspects of teacher seniority in the state’s public school systems. It went so far as to put non-tenured teachers with three years or less experience — so-called provisionals — on par with the most senior teachers during layoffs. The Massachusetts Teachers Association mobilized its more than 100,000 union members for what promised to be a costly and divisive battle. And with neither side confident of the outcome, each agreed to give some ground. The union gave up less. Under the compromise legislation, for example, provisional teachers — no matter how promising — will continue to be laid off before senior teachers. The union also eludes the ballot question’s requirement that every school district adopt a model teacher-evaluation method or state-approved alternative. Under the compromise legislation, school districts retain more leeway, and the emphasis shifts to more comprehensive reporting of teacher-evaluation data. (Boston Globe)


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