The following resources focus on the educational climate and betterment of those serving the K–12 educational community.

Billions in Colorado School Funding on the Line as Statewide Tax, Local Bond Issues Crowd Ballot   Coloradans are so eager to fix their state’s schools, education supporters say, they will happily vote in November for an unprecedented $1.5 billion in local bond issues to build new classrooms as well as a separate $1.6 billion statewide tax measure to boost funding for every student and increase services to special programs. (Denver Post)

Memphis Moves From Problem Child to Poster Child on Tennessee’s New School Improvement List   The city that has been the epicenter of Tennessee’s school improvement work since 2012 got encouraging news on Friday as fewer Memphis schools landed on the state’s newest list of troubled schools. (Chalkbeat)

Private School Choice: Requirements for Students and Donors Participating in State Tax Credit Scholarship Programs   In 2018, there were 22 tax credit scholarship programs authorized across 18 states, including Florida, which provide state tax credits for individual and business donations that fund scholarships for students to attend elementary and secondary private schools. Through these credits, donors may reduce the amount they owe in state taxes by the full or a partial amount of their donation, depending on each program’s rules. Designing a tax credit scholarship program requires that many decisions be made, such as which students will be eligible to receive scholarships and the effect donations will have on donors’ state taxes. This report examines state tax credit scholarship programs’ policies regarding student eligibility and scholarship awards, and how donating to a tax credit scholarship program could affect the amount of state and federal taxes owed by donors. Average scholarship awards in school year 2016-2017 ranged from $500 to $5,468 per student among the 16 programs that published or provided the authors with such information. The effect of tax credit scholarship donations on donors’ tax liability depends on program characteristics and donors’ financial circumstances. Specifically, half of the 22 programs allow eligible donors to claim 100% of their donations as state tax credits, meaning that for each dollar donated, state taxes owed are reduced by a dollar, up to any maximum set by the state. The remaining 11 programs allow donors to claim from 50 percent to 85 percent of their donations as state tax credits. Programs often specify a maximum tax credit that may be claimed each year by a donor, by all donors combined, or both. Individual donors may also reduce their federal tax liabilities through the federal deduction for charitable contributions, depending on their financial circumstances and applicable tax provisions. (U.S. Government Accountability Office)

Second Chance or Second Track? Credit Recovery Participation in U.S. High Schools  Record graduation rates in an era of rising standards suggests that schools are offering additional supports to students who in prior years might not have graduated without them. Chief among these supports are credit recovery programs, which help students who have failed a class get back on track for graduation without repeating a year of school. These programs are available in approximately three in four U.S. high schools and serve 6 percent of high school students. Done well, credit recovery can give students a second chance to stay on track to graduation. Done poorly, it creates a second track that threatens school cultures and lowers our expectations for the most disadvantaged students and the schools that serve them. High-volume credit recovery schools have disproportionately higher percentages of poor and minority students. Their students are less likely to pass Algebra I or Advanced Placement (AP) exams. They have markedly lower academic proficiency and graduation rates. Credit recovery programs that become a second track to completing an inferior education threaten students and schools, especially those in most need of help. Beyond devaluing diplomas, allowing the requirements schools have worked to raise to be relaxed in credit recovery programs will wear away at schools’ broader culture of expectations, creating a moral hazard for schools, teachers, and students. (American Enterprise Institute)