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We are a nonprofit dedicated to helping education organizations become more effective and achieve dramatic results, especially for underserved students.

With permission from IDEA Public Schools

We Have Three Integrated Service Areas

Phillip Burgoyne-Allen
Jennifer O'Neal Schiess

Every day, nearly 25 million students ride a big yellow bus to school. These iconic vehicles are so entrenched in American school culture that their likeness is the predominant symbol for education.

There’s good reason for this. Since the yellow school bus came on the scene decades ago, almost nothing has changed about the vehicles or how school systems use them to transport students.

But do school transportation systems still meet the needs of current students, families, and schools? In "Miles to Go: Bringing School Transportation into the 21st Century,” we analyze school transportation on a national scale through three lenses:

  • Efficiency: Are current school transportation systems efficiently, cost-effectively, and safely serving schools’ needs?
  • Education: Are those systems meeting the needs of students and families as well as supporting their ability to access schools equitably?
  • Environment: Are student transportation systems minimizing their environmental impact in the communities they serve?

The image emerging from our work is grim. School districts struggle to provide efficient service in the face of escalating costs and increasingly complex education systems where more and more students attend schools outside their neighborhoods. Stagnant state funding streams force districts either to sacrifice service quality and forego system upgrades or divert funds from other purposes. Federal and state regulations concerning student safety and special student populations’ educational rights are at odds with strategies to improve efficiency. All those competing priorities must be carefully balanced.

Factors such as a shortage of qualified bus drivers and fuel market volatility further complicate these matters. Also, districts have largely failed to adopt even basic technologies to improve data collection as well as operational and cost-efficiency, much less major overhauls, such as replacing diesel with alternative fuels.

In our recent Education Next report, “Why Most Teachers Get a Bad Deal on Pensions,” my colleague Kelly Robson and I analyzed state pension plan turnover assumptions to look at two key milestones: the point when teachers first qualify for a pension, and when they become eligible for normal retirement. On the front end, we found that states assume less than half of all new teachers will teach long enough to qualify for a pension (that is, they won’t reach the “vesting” point). Moreover, no state assumes that teachers on the cusp of vesting will change their behavior in order to qualify for a pension.

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) gives states an opportunity to rethink their systems for identifying which schools need to improve and how. States are required to submit their plans for a federal peer review process and then have approved plans in place for the 2017-18 school year.

In order to hold all states to a common, high bar and evaluate state efforts, Bellwether Education Partners and the Collaborative for Student Success will convene an objective, independent panel to peer review state accountability plans. After states submit their official plans, this panel of experts on state and federal accountability from a range of political viewpoints will give honest feedback.

This project is designed to serve as an external check on the federal process, capture the strengths and weaknesses of each state’s plan, and provide feedback to state policymakers and advocates interested in enhancing school quality in their communities.

826 National

Above all, the CEO must be a seasoned, focused leader with the gravitas, focus, and levity to lead 826 to its next chapter of growth, expansion, and impact. They must come to this work with a sincere belief that 826’s chapters improve students’ lives by equipping them with opportunities to raise their voices as writers, to build their confidence and become engaged members of their communities.