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Ideas matter. In addition to our work with clients, Bellwether Education Partners generates and gathers ideas and policy solutions, analyzes ongoing reform efforts, and writes about and discusses education and education reform. We believe that the work we do to improve education for all students benefits from thought leadership, analysis, and thoughtful discourse around emerging ideas, in order to help challenge leaders and leading organizations to think differently and improve, to coordinate efforts where possible, to inform policymakers and improve the political and policy context, and to share successful approaches with the public education field at large.

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Banner image for Splitting the Bill education finance inequity series

Education finance sets the foundation for what is possible in every school in the country. Education finance equity is critical to leveling the playing field for underserved students in under-resourced schools. But in too many states, the education funding system remains inequitable, inadequate, and opaque to all but a few. How can advocates make these systems work more effectively in order to provide the necessary resources for all students?

Bellwether Education Partners’ series Splitting the Bill: Understanding Education Finance Equity gives advocates a crash course in the fundamentals of education finance and in key questions to ask in their states and communities.

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In October 2020, “Missing in the Margins: Estimating the Scale of the COVID-19 Attendance Crisis” estimated that as many as 3 million K-12 students were at high risk of experiencing minimal or no educational access from spring through fall 2020 as a result of the pandemic. That number became a shorthand for understanding the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on America’s students, particularly those furthest from opportunity.

Fast-forward one year later, and available data on 2020-21 enrollment, attendance, and engagement suggest massive missed learning opportunities, especially among the most marginalized students.

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Cover page for Priced Out of Public Schools Report.

Public schools are designed to provide every student with an equal opportunity to achieve the American dream. In reality, that ideal is removed from the lives of millions of K-12 schoolchildren. Geographic school district boundaries and the rental housing market limit options for students with the highest needs while benefiting more affluent families in far too many communities across the country.

Priced Out of Public Schools: District Lines, Housing Access, and Inequitable Educational Options, a new report by Bellwether Education Partners, examines the relationships among rental housing access, per-pupil funding, and school district boundaries in the 200 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S.

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In too many conversations about how to meet young people’s educational, housing, health, and other needs, one voice is critically missing: those most impacted. If communities want to equitably serve young people, problem solving must start with the young people and families who are experiencing the issue. Designing From the Margins is a new Bellwether Education Partners toolkit for practitioners in schools, districts, community non-profits, and other child-serving agencies. The toolkit shares design strategies for problem solving that start by engaging those who are most directly affected by a problem to create an effective, equitable, and sustainable solution.

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Millions of young people in the U.S. face overwhelming challenges to living long, happy, and healthy lives. When young people experience life events that disrupt their education pathways — like homelessness, incarceration, or a placement in foster care — they often struggle to meet the demands of the very systems that are designed to help them.

Lost by Design is a new resource from Bellwether Education Partners that outlines how to address this critical, solvable problem. On the site, you’ll meet young people and their families, read about promising progress across the country, access research and resources, and learn more about Bellwether's approach.

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Families continue to struggle navigating a fluid K-12 education space since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and emergence of the Delta variant. Over the last 18 months, the parents of 10.8 million did not get what they wanted from their child’s school — representing nearly one in five U.S. schoolchildren. Many families’ early concerns over access to in-person, virtual, and hybrid forms of instruction persist with the start of the 2021-22 school year. These families are not a monolith. They live in a diverse range of communities found across America, come from a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds, and span the socioeconomic spectrum. While some were more economically equipped to react, all have felt disruptions of the pandemic in their daily lives. The Overlooked analyzes the fundamental shift playing out among families across the country who are dealing with unresponsive systems and limited school choices this fall.

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Teacher retirement plans are called “gold plated” by their proponents and critics alike, when in fact half of teachers will never see a pension at all. Only about one in five teachers gets a full pension. And in many cases retirement benefits shortchange teachers and make it harder for them to save for their retirement. In Teacher Retirement Systems: A Ranking of the States, Bellwether Education Partners ranks how state retirement systems serve U.S. teachers and taxpayers.

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With a historic pool of federal education funds now available to help address the effects of the pandemic, school districts and states have a unique window of opportunity to transform education — including by diversifying their workforce through recruiting, training, and retaining more Black and Hispanic teachers. Window of Opportunity: How States and Localities Can Use Federal Rescue Plan Dollars to Diversify Their Teacher Workforce offers a roadmap of recruitment and retention strategies that states and districts can begin implementing today to ensure America’s public school teaching workforce better reflects its students and meets their educational needs.

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The COVID-19 pandemic and its disproportionate impact on students from historically marginalized communities underscores the value of continuous improvement (CI) as a framework for understanding the depth of unfinished learning and responding to it in an urgent, data-driven, and adaptive manner. Working alongside school-based teams, Bellwether has developed a refined and balanced approach to the traditional CI process that is more attuned to realities in schools, particularly in the wake of the pandemic — and is now available for school leaders to download as a customizable, easy-to-use resource that can help them implement these techniques for students.

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Do employees at public colleges and universities have better retirement benefits than K-12 employees? This is the central question in the new report Choice and Quality Among Retirement Plans for Educators. The analysis shows that K-12 teachers are often offered different, worse retirement benefits than those offered to public higher education employees.

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