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Publications

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Publications

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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Teachers’ unions are a powerful force in local, state, and federal politics, but Janus vs. the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) could change that. At the heart of this case is a key source of union revenue: agency fees.

The deck begins with an overview of the history of public and private sector unions dating back to the early 1900s. It then provides a summary of the history and current status of teachers’ unions specifically: major successes related to collective bargaining, controversy and criticism surrounding their increasing political activities, and their response to the increasing accountability in federal education legislation. We then offer current data and information on the nation’s two largest teachers’ unions, including membership data, financial data, a description of their organizational structure and the services they provide, and an overview of recent activities including teacher strikes and walkouts. We conclude the deck by summarizing the Janus case and its potential impacts on teachers’ unions and offering questions yet to be answered about the future of teachers’ unions post-Janus.

This analysis offers an accurate and objective set of information to those wanting to inform their understanding of this historic case.

cover of Bellwether slide deck

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Every two years, the Office for Civil Rights, a division of the U.S. Department of Education, conducts a civil rights data collection that includes information about school demographics, course enrollment, discipline, and other measures of school-based experience. In 2013, the office collected data from schools identified as juvenile justice schools for the first time. These schools serve only students placed in secure facilities by law enforcement or courts, and there are approximately 50,000 young people across the country in these on any given day.

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As school districts across the country report various kinds of teacher shortages, how to retain teachers has emerged as a key area of interest for district leaders and policymakers. There are a variety of incentives and strategies to keep teachers in the profession, but which ones are most effective? Asking teachers themselves yields answers, some of which cut against the grain of conventional wisdom in the education community.

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A new profile highlights the co-teaching approach for dual language learners (DLLs) at Community of Peace Academy in St. Paul, Minnesota. The school’s approach holds lessons for other Minnesota schools and for teacher preparation policies in the state at large.

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This report makes the case that the education system can serve as an effective through-line for children and youth experiencing traumatic life experiences by using two key levers for change: continuity of people and continuity of information.

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Most educators are women, and yet male educators outearn women in terms of annual salaries and retirement benefits. Given that school districts typically operate with uniform salary schedules that, on their face, appear neutral, it may be surprising to see gaps emerge along gender and racial lines. Yet, our two new reports show that uniform salary schedules are not sufficient to ensure gender and racial equity. In fact, there are salary inequities that have serious consequences beyond their regular paychecks — they also translate to lower retirement benefits.


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cover of Creating More Effective, Efficient, and Equitable Education Policies with Human-Centered DesignHuman-centered design is an approach to creating solutions for problems and opportunities through a focus on the needs, contexts, behaviors, and emotions of the people that the solutions will serve. For years, it has been used to create and re-create products, services, and experiences such as doors, hospital visits, and breast pumps. More recently, public agencies have begun to use human-centered design methods to define problems, generate solutions, and test them to improve the services that they deliver. Some governments have even created innovation offices that serve as in-house design consultants and train other employees to integrate human-centered approaches into their daily work.

Increasingly, designers and public leaders are beginning to apply human-centered design methods to the creation of public policies themselves. So what would it look like if human-centered design methods were applied to the creation of education policies? Can a process created for products and services in the private sector improve how education policies are created and implemented?

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Early childhood experts and advocates have long called for increasing the education and training of U.S. early childhood workers, and over the past two decades, policymakers have gradually increased credentialing requirements for teachers in Head Start and state-funded pre-K programs. The 2015 report from the National Academies Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation essentially endorsed that trend, recommending that states and other organizations build a system that requires and enables all lead educators in early childhood settings to hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree with specialized knowledge and competencies in early childhood education. In 2017 New America and Bellwether Education Partners brought together experts to discuss the group of educators who are poised to achieve this: lead pre-K educators who are teaching three- and four-year-olds in publicly funded classrooms within early learning centers and elementary schools.

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While there has been extensive debate about mandating degree requirements for early childhood educators, little of this debate has focused on the type of programs early childhood educators are likely to attend, let alone the quality of these programs. It Takes a Community: Leveraging Community Colleges to Transform the Early Childhood Workforce examines the critical role community colleges currently play in preparing early childhood educators and envisions the role these institutions should play in ongoing efforts to transform the early childhood workforce.

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School districts across the country are reporting difficulties in hiring high-quality teachers, and states are being asked to respond. Our new slide deck, "Teacher Supply and Demand: How States Track Shortage Areas," surveys the landscape of how states track information on teacher supply and demand.

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