By Sarah Pingel
Postsecondary education is expensive and students are paying more and more for college each year. Amid concerns about rising tuition, state legislatures have become increasingly active in tuition policy even though there’s only one state legislature—Florida’s—that has the authority to set tuition in the four-year sector and two legislatures—Florida’s and California’s—that havethe authority to do so for two-year institutions. In most states, legislatures have adopted statutes that grant the authority to set tuition to campus- or system-level boards.

While technology has opened new doors for teachers, the use of innovative technology in the classroom has resulted in the collection of sensitive student data. Many state lawmakers are now acting to secure vulnerable student information, while also allowing for the educational edge technology provides.

Data from the National Center for Education Statistics, or NCES, states that 53.4 percent of post-secondary undergraduate students financed at least part of their education through federal loans in 2011-12, an increase from 34.4 percent in 2003-041. While the NCES’s data does not account for private loans, which would further raise this percentage, it already brings to concern the effect that increased educational borrowing will have on repayment rates and future personal financial indicators, such as credit scores.

A strong education system is essential to growing the next generation of leaders and decision-makers, but there is a growing voice for more choice in education, particularly in the form of charter schools. Two state leaders heavily involved in charter school legislation, Massachusetts state Sen. Marc Pacheco and Utah state Rep. Jefferson Moss, spoke with CSG regarding student performance, lessons from other states, school governance and charter research.

CSG Midwest
Three big developments in education finance occurred in the Midwest over the past few months — a major state Supreme Court ruling in Kansas, a new school-funding formula in Illinois, and a change in the retirement plans for Michigan teachers. Here is a brief look at what happened in each state.
CSG Midwest
Before state education officials sent off Minnesota’s plan for implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act to the federal government, Rep. Sondra Erickson wanted to make sure one important constituency got the chance to hear about it and weigh in. That group was the state’s legislators, who four years earlier had revamped how Minnesota evaluates school performance.
The Legislature dubbed this new system the “World’s Best Workforce,” which focuses on getting students ready for success in the K-12 system (all third-graders reading at grade level, for example) and for life after high school. It measures the progress of each of the state’s schools in four main areas — standardized test scores, the closing of achievement gaps, college and career readiness, and graduation rates.
“What was important to me was that our system for federal accountability [under the ESSA] align with our existing state accountability system,” says Erickson, chair of the Minnesota House Education Innovation Policy Committee. “We don’t want to have teachers, parents and students conflicted.”
To that end, Erickson not only requested a legislative hearing on the ESSA in the 2017 omnibus education bill (HF 2), she included statutory language that the implementation plan be “consistent and aligned, to the extent practicable,” with World’s Best Workforce.
Erickson likes what she learned about the plan, saying it will provide for “continuity and consistency.”
A central tenet of the 2015 federal law was to give states more flexibility on education policy, and the ESSA has not supplanted changes made by states to their accountability systems. Instead, state ESSA plans mostly incorporate some of the new federal requirements (such as accounting for progress made by English language learners and including a measure of “school quality”) into their accountability systems.

High-quality early learning programs have been shown to boost educational outcomes for children, reduce rates of incarceration and lower health-care costs, according to research from economist James Heckman, winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.

According to a report conducted in 2016 by the Learning Policy Institute (LPI), many states are facing a growing teacher shortage. The report states that between 2009 and 2014, teacher education enrollment dropped by 35%. Beyond a shortage in the supply of newly educated teachers, the Learning Policy Institute attributes a large part of the shortage to high levels of attrition. U.S. attrition levels are...

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee in July signed into law one of the nation’s most comprehensive paid family leave programs, offering workers paid time off for the birth or adoption of a child or for the serious medical condition of the employee or his or her family member. The legislation, which will take effect in 2020, offers eligible workers 12 weeks of either parental or medical leave, or 16 weeks for a combination of both. Only four other states guarantee paid family leave: California, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island, with New York’s program beginning in 2018. The District of Columbia also approved a paid family leave program this year to take effect in 2020.

By Katherine Barrett and Richard Greene
During the years when the baby-boom generation was being introduced to the population of the United States, the fertility rate equaled about three births for each woman of child bearing age. But since the mid-1960s, when the baby boom ceased, fertility rates have been dropping. By the early 1970s, the fertility rate fell below two births per woman, and it has been declining steadily for at least the last 10 years. Since then, the U.S. fertility rate has been below replacement level—the level that is needed for couples to replace themselves in the population—according to the Population Reference Bureau.

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