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

  • Publication
    Hailly T.N. Korman
    Michael Johnson
    Max Marchitello

    The recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless other Black people, often by law enforcement, have added momentum and renewed urgency to longstanding efforts to rethink and perhaps eliminate the relationship between police and schools. This two-page resource is designed to aggregate and amplify the existing work of advocates, researchers, community organizers, and students in order to offer practical questions and next steps for school and district leaders considering a reevaluation of schools’ relationship with law enforcement.

  • Publication
    Indira Dammu
    Max Marchitello
    Hailly T.N. Korman

    This resource library includes specific and tactical recommendations on how to support students who are engaged with systems of care — such as the foster care system, health and human services, and immigration — during COVID-19.

  • Publication
    Hailly T.N. Korman
    Max Marchitello

    Each year thousands of youth in America are uprooted from their schools and communities and sent to a juvenile justice detention center. While in these facilities, young people are entitled to the same educational opportunities that they would have in the outside world. However, there is little research or data about this population. In “Educating Youth in Short-Term Detention,” we found that youth’s educational experiences in these facilities often compound, rather than alleviate, the challenges they face.

  • Media
    Max Marchitello
    Diana Cournoyer

    If schools in juvenile-justice facilities are a young person’s last chance to get back on track, our latest research shows that these institutions are failing. Students in juvenile-justice facilities often don’t have access to even the most basic classes, and Native American youth in these settings are more disadvantaged than others.

  • Publication
    Hailly T.N. Korman
    Max Marchitello
    Alexander Brand

    In this publication, we found that juvenile justice facilities fail to provide adjudicated youth with sufficient access to the courses they need to graduate high school. For example, students in juvenile justice facilities are 25 percent less likely to have access to Algebra I, a foundational class required for graduation. Moreover, these facilities offer only limited access to credit recovery programs, which are critical to helping students recoup course credits that they missed or failed to complete earlier in their academic careers.

  • Publication
    Max Marchitello

    In Bellwether’s new report, "Teacher Pension Reform: Lessons and Warnings From West Virginia" we modeled the wealth accumulation for teachers in the pension fund, before and after the reform, as well as the intervening DC plan. We found that all of the plans were poorly constructed from the outset and fail to provide a significant retirement benefit to a majority of West Virginia’s educators.

    Title image for Bellwether publication

  • Publication
    Max Marchitello
    Jennifer O’Neal Schiess

    "California's Special Education Funding System Creates Challenges and Opportunities for District and Charter Schools" looks at several features of California’s special education funding system which make it difficult for districts to serve students with disabilities and limit the ability of some charter schools to make decisions about the programs and services they offer for students with disabilities. Title image for Bellwether publication

  • Publication
    Max Marchitello
    Justin Trinidad

    "Preparing Teachers for Diverse Schools: Lessons from Minority Serving Institutions" looks at how schools can revise policies, practices, and curricula to address the impact of race, gender, and class, and thereby better prepare educators to serve an increasingly diverse student population.

  • Publication
    Max Marchitello

    What effect does spending on educator benefits, such as pensions and healthcare, have on district and state K-12 education budgets? In a new report, “Benefits Take Larger Bite out of District K-12 Education Budgets,” we track ten years of spending data in nearly 14,000 districts across the country. The results are alarming.

    Our analysis shows that nationally benefit spending consumes a greater share of K-12 spending overall in 2014 than it did in 2005. Nationally, 19 percent of K-12 spending goes toward benefits, an increase of more than 3 percentage points. At the low end, some states devote as little as 8 percent of their spending toward employee benefits, whereas at the high end, some states devote more than 30 percent of their K-12 budgets toward benefits. All but three states saw the share of their spending dedicated to benefits increase in the window of our analysis.

    Overall, state education budgets increased only 1.6 percent from 2005 to 2014, after adjusting for inflation. In contrast, over the same period benefit spending increased 22 percent. This pattern holds in many states. In fact, 23 states effectively sent less money to the classrooms in 2014 than they did in 2005 due to the combination of stagnant or decreasing investments in K-12 education and burgeoning benefit costs.

    This should worry teachers and legislators alike. Indeed, a considerable amount of benefit spending goes to pay down debt rather than for current employee benefits. That is, the higher spending is not translating into more valuable pensions or more generous healthcare benefits. And legislators may be frustrated that their investments in K-12 education are not reaching classrooms.

    The problem of rising benefit costs will continue and likely grow for the foreseeable future. There are no easy fixes to these problems, but it will be critical for legislators to find solutions that balance paying down past obligations with contributing to the education of current students.
    cover of Bellwether slide deck

  • Publication
    Max Marchitello
    Kirsten Schmitz
    Chad Aldeman

    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.

  • Publication
    Chad Aldeman
    Anne Hyslop
    Max Marchitello
    Jennifer O'Neal Schiess
    Kaitlin Pennington

    The 2015 passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) ushered in a new era for state accountability systems. ESSA provided states an opportunity to help all students succeed by rethinking both how they identify schools that need to improve, and how those schools might be improved. The law requires states to submit a formal plan to the Department of Education for peer review and then begin implementing that plan in the 2017-18 school year. Read our findings after reviewing the accountability plans for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

  • Publication
    Chad Aldeman
    Max Marchitello

    Following the first ESSA plan submissions to the U.S. Department of Education in April 2017, Bellwether Education Partners — in partnership with the Collaborative for Student Success — convened a group of 30 education experts to independently review 17 state accountability plans. During the review, the experts, who represented national and state perspectives from both sides of the aisle, identified best practices in providing a strong statewide accountability system that will help ensure a high-quality education for all students.

    Because the first round of reviews was designed to help provide important context for the remaining state plans being submitted in September 2017, we conducted interim reviews of draft plans released by California and New York, using the same rubric and a process that closely mirrored our first set of reviews. We recognize that these pre-reviews represent a snapshot in time and that the states may make revisions prior to formally submitting their plans to the U.S. Department of Education. Given the size of California and New York’s diverse student populations, as well as their geographic diversity, we felt that feedback on their draft plans was important in not only strengthening these state’s final submissions, but also in providing information for other states still writing their plans.

    We intend to conduct full reviews of all second-round states following their final submissions in September.

    Read our reviews of the draft California and New York state plans here.

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