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Learn more about Bellwether’s work by reading our publications, news articles, press releases, and case studies.

  • Publication
    Jennifer O'Neal Schiess

    The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) includes $123 billion to K-12 education through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) and $39 billion for higher education through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF). What’s in the law? How can schools use the funding? And will it be enough to address the gaps that COVID-19 exposed and exacerbated? Despite variation in local context, in many places, ARPA will represent a windfall of funding for education. This brief provides a look at the K-12 and higher education-related provisions of ARPA, as well as an overview of other ARPA provisions related to families and children, including childcare, food, housing, and income supports.

  • Publication

    Title image for Bellwether 2020 Annual Report

    Bellwether was founded on the idea that schools must do dramatically more for Black, Hispanic, low-income, and other students historically denied access to opportunity in America — and for more than 10 years, clients have looked to us to provide thoughtful, non-ideological analysis and strategies that prioritize serving disadvantaged children. In Bellwether's 2020 annual report, we share a sampling of the projects, publications, and commentary that best highlight how we maintained our commitment to ensuring underserved students receive the education they deserve, during a challenging year for education and the world.

  • Publication
    Jennifer O'Neal Schiess

    In alignment with national trends, public discourse about the role of charters in Texas’s public school system can be contentious – and one primary point of contention has been around differences in public funding for Texas school districts versus charter schools. In "On a Path to Parity: Equity and Impact of Texas School Funding Policy for School Districts and Charter Schools," we look at the differences in public funding between Texas school districts and charter schools, and offer three considerations for policymakers seeking to further level the funding playing field.

  • Publication
    Kelly Robson
    Hailly T.N. Korman
    Rebecca Daulton

    Young people who experience disruptive and traumatic events rely on our nation’s child-serving agencies for support to navigate their circumstances, heal from trauma, and return to school, work, and life as healthy and productive citizens. Unfortunately, too often our existing service agencies fall short of meeting the needs of these youth. As a result, students who experience a disruptive event in youth are more likely to experience homelessness, to have unplanned or unwanted pregnancies, and to end up in jail throughout their lifetimes.

    "The Value of Harms Avoided: Calculating the Cost of a Fragmented System of Social Services" attempts to calculate both the cost of the current system across multiple disruptions that young people might face and the cost of a hypothetical system in which the first intervention works—allowing the individual to leverage support systems in the future at the rate and cost of a person who did not experience a disruptive event as a child. Based on our calculation, such a system could free up more than $1.5 trillion over the lifetimes of the cohort of youth currently served by care agencies.

  • Publication
    Kelly Robson
    Jennifer O'Neal Schiess

    Work-based learning – including internships, youth and pre-apprenticeships, and cooperative education programs – allows students to gain work experience while in high school. "Working to Learn and Learning to Work" offers a state-by-state analysis of work-based learning policies.

  • Publication
    Bonnie O'Keefe
    Alex Spurrier
    Jennifer O'Neal Schiess
    Hailly T.N. Korman
    Melissa Steel King
    Allison Crean Davis
    Indira Dammu
    Juliet Squire
    Ashley LiBetti

    COVID-19 has presented new challenges for schools and families to grapple with when it comes to student learning — but the pandemic also has illuminated shortcomings and missed opportunities that have long been present in our education system. Now, nearly a year after schools across the country first shut down due to the pandemic —and as more communities eye the possibility of a return to full-time, in-person learning — a new series of briefs from Bellwether offers guidance on how the education sector can recenter and rebuild in the wake of COVID-19.

    "From Pandemic to Progress: Eight Education Pathways for COVID-19 Recovery" puts forth a suite of ambitious but achievable pathways for education leaders and policymakers to follow to re-engage in complex policy questions and rebuild education as the country begins to emerge from the pandemic. Drawing on the breadth of Bellwether's unique expertise and diversity of viewpoints, this series offers a take on what we'll need in the years ahead to create a sector that can provide students with the high-quality education and supports they need and deserve to be successful.

  • Publication
    Tresha Ward
    Indira Dammu

    A series of interviews with school leaders who are guiding their schools through the COVID-19 pandemic. Three dynamic school leaders share lessons learned and promising practices they've discovered to help meet students' academic, social, and emotional needs.

  • Publication
    Cody Kornack
    Ashley LiBetti

    "Broader, Deeper, Fairer" – a new report in partnership between the National Head Start Association, The HeadStarter Network, and Bellwether –  offers five strategies for building a more equitable path towards employment in early childhood education.

  • Publication
    Chad Aldeman
    Anthony Randazzo

    Bellwether's analysis of Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) of Texas finds it is not serving all of its members well. Most members will leave their teaching service in Texas with inadequate retirement benefits, and the unfunded liabilities the system has accrued over time harm today’s teachers and retirees.

  • Publication
    Chad Aldeman

    Though not widely known, Ohio teachers have three retirement options: a traditional pension plan, a 401(k)-style defined contribution plan, and a hybrid plan that combines features of both. A large majority of teachers are in the pension plan—the result of either an affirmative choice or by default, not having selected a specific plan at the beginning of their careers. But is the pension option the best choice for most teachers?

  • Media
    Matt Repka

    Asking our educators to return to school buildings at this moment is not just wrong—it has wasted time and diverted attention from the real task at hand. The real task is the hardest one, the one that’s been there all along: crush coronavirus transmission rates to a level that will permit a return to at least hybrid instruction.

  • Media
    Ashley LiBetti

    Schools need help bringing special-needs kids back to class. But if they can't, here are 3 paths for supporting learning online. Virtual learning, by and large, is not working for students with special needs. But it is unacceptable to throw up our hands because of the very real challenges in serving children with disabilities during COVID.

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