March 2012 Reports

Bullying and gender
A new report from the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network says that, in elementary schools, gender-nonconforming students are far more likely (56 percent) than gender-conforming students (33 percent) to report being bullied and called names. In fact, Playgrounds and Prejudice finds that the phrase “that’s so gay” is second only to the phrases “spaz” and “retard” as the most common form of biased language heard in elementary schools by both teachers (49 percent) and students (45 percent).

EMO performance
Education management organizations (EMOs) run 35 percent of public charter schools and are responsible for educating 40 percent of all public charter school students, according to the National Education’s review of charter school management programs. However, 51.8 percent of schools run by for-profit EMOs failed to make adequate yearly progress (AYP) in 2010-11, as did 72.6 percent of the online schools run by for-profit EMOs. Nonprofit EMOs fared better; 56.4 percent of those did make AYP.

Failing schools
What’s Trust Got to Do with It?, a report from Public Agenda of parents’ views about their persistently failing public schools and possible solutions such as charter schools, finds five important emerging themes: Parents with children in low-performing schools want change; parents remain loyal to their local schools despite low performance; parents often do not realize how inadequate their schools are; broader social problems intensify the effects of poor school performance; and many parents are suspicious of district decision-makers.

Homeless children
The number of homeless children in the U.S. reached 1.6 million in 2010, an increase of 38 percent from 2007. America’s Youngest Outcasts 2010, a report from The National Center on Family Homelessness, says that 4,400 more American children become homeless each day. Most of these children suffer from hunger, poor health, and missed educational opportunities, and most have limited math and reading proficiency. The report ranks Alabama as the worst state for child homelessness, and ranks California 46th out of 50. Vermont was ranked best.

Stress and children
A report published in Pediatrics, “The Lifelong Effects of Childhood Adversity and Toxic Stress,” suggests that persistent, negative early experiences and excessive, prolonged stress produce biological memories that are built into the body and can actually disrupt the physical architecture of children’s developing brains. The report says that many adult diseases can actually be viewed as developmental disorders that begin early in life, and recommends investing in interventions that reduce childhood adversity as the key to strengthening the foundations of physical and mental health.

Talent shortage
Fifty-two percent of U.S. employers participating in the Manpower Group’s 2011 Talent Shortage Survey reported difficulty finding skilled applicants to fill vacant positions, up 38 percentage points from 2010. U.S. companies had the most difficulty locating skilled trades workers, sales representatives, and engineers. The survey’s authors predict that talent will become a key competitive differentiator, and that only the countries and organizations whose workers are equipped with the right skills will be able to position themselves for success in a rapidly changing world economy.

An analysis of test data and tax records for 2.5 million former students of a large U.S. urban school district clearly shows a link between high value-added (high-VA) teachers -- those whose students have higher test scores -- and better student outcomes over the long term. The analysis from Harvard and Columbia University economists, The Long-Term Impacts of Teachers: Teacher Value-Added and Student Outcomes in Adulthood, finds that students assigned to high-VA teachers were less likely to become teenage parents, had higher rates of college attendance and attended more selective colleges, earned more money and lived in better neighborhoods as adults, and saved more for their retirements.

Working mothers
The number of working mothers with children 18 or younger increased to 71.6 percent in 2009, up from 47.4 percent in 1975. Seventy-four percent of all working mothers in 2009 worked full-time. Sixty-four percent of all first-time mothers return to work by their child’s first birthday. A report appearing in the Fall 2011 issue of The Future of Children, “Changing Families, Changing Workplaces,” says that over the last 50 years, education-related inequality in income and number of work hours has grown, and that employees are increasingly working nonstandard hours. Workers who have high incomes work longer hours, while workers who have lower incomes struggle to secure enough work hours to support their families financially.

Compiled by Margaret Suslick, ASBJ’s Editorial Assistant.