Bluum Monthly Newsletter - March 2017

Funding our Future: Idaho School Funding Simulator

by Terry Ryan, Bluum

With the right political leadership in coming months and years, Idaho is well positioned to be a national leader in modernizing its public education finance system. The state’s current funding formula goes back to 1994, and according to the Education Commission of the State, “the current formula did not contemplate a variety of different learning modalities, the increasing mobility of students and the states move toward mastery-based education.” Nor, did it contemplate a system of universal school choice.

The current system is increasingly archaic and there is an emerging consensus among Idaho lawmakers, policy makers and even district officials that the time is right for Idaho to craft a new funding system.


Voices from Rural Oklahoma: Where's Education Headed on the Plain?

by Juliet Squire & Kelly Robson, Bellwether Education Partners

With nearly one in three students statewide attending a rural school, rural education must be a top priority for Oklahoma’s state policymakers. Students deserve a high-quality education, and the economy depends on it. Unfortunately, data suggest that many of Oklahoma’s rural schools are not providing their students with the academic and non-academic skills necessary for them to be successful in their next steps after high school. 

Over the years, Oklahoma’s policymakers have implemented a number of measures to address the challenges facing rural schools. But what is often missing from conversations about how to fix these problems are the voices of the students, parents, community members, and business leaders living in these communities and experiencing the problems firsthand. 

In our new report, “Voices from Rural Oklahoma: Where’s Education Headed on the Plain?”, we seek to raise the collective voices of rural community members and convey their thoughts and perspectives to policymakers in the state capital. Through a series of 12 focus groups and nine interviews, we spoke with more than 80 individuals living in rural communities throughout Oklahoma. We asked them about the issues facing the schools in their communities, including topics ranging from course options for students in high school to students’ post-college job prospects to their perspectives on policies such as charter schools and consolidation.


How School Networks Work, and Why That's Important

by Tom Van der Ark, Getting Smart

School networks are one of the most important innovations in the modern era of U.S. K-12 education. They have boosted achievement and graduation rates and expanded quality options in communities that most need them.

The chart below compares six types of networks ranging from voluntary associations around design principles (loose design and loose control) to managed networks (tight design and tight control). The first bullet is the key characteristic, the second includes network examples and the third is an example of a funder or advocate supporting the strategy.


In The News
6 Phases of Professional Place-Based Education
Nate McClellen, Getting Smart

Let’s take a giant step back and accept that place-based education is not new. In the midst of project-based, problem-based, deeper learning, experiential learning, and all of the other acronym-ready methods that challenge teachers and students to think about approaches different from the industrial model, place-based education lives in the background, patiently waiting to be uncovered once more.


38% of Idaho Schools Were Short Teachers When School Started
by Nathan Brown

Almost 38 percent of Idaho school districts that answered a state survey say they had vacant teaching jobs when this school year started.

Out of 115 public school districts, 87 superintendents answered the survey. The 33 districts with vacant teaching positions when school started had 120 vacancies among them, split about evenly between the elementary and secondary levels. Most of the vacancies were in special education, technology and computer literacy, and the core content areas of math, English and science.


The Changing Geography of US Poverty
by Elizabeth Kneebone, Brookings Institute

Poverty in the United States has long been associated with large urban centers or rural communities, where it has historically been most concentrated. As poverty grew in the 2000s, it continued to climb in those places: Both large cities and rural counties experienced an uptick in their poor populations of roughly 20 percent between 2000 and 2015. But the rapid rise of poverty in the 2000s touched a broad swath of communities across the country, moving well beyond its historic homes.




About Bluum

Bluum is a non-profit organization committed to ensuring Idaho’s children reach their fullest potential by cultivating great leaders and innovative schools. Bluum believes that school choice helps families, children and educators achieve more and do better. Bluum works to help Idaho become a national model for how to maximize learning opportunities for children and families. Learn more at or click here to read our introductory blog post.
Copyright © 2017 Bluum, All rights reserved.

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