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Education’s gender pay gap

Welcome to Chalkbeat’s national newsletter! Matt Barnum, Sarah Darville, and intrepid intern Amanda Zhou here, working to help you make sense of efforts to improve education across the country. We love it when you reply to this email — please say hi and let us know what you think.


The big story

One aspect of the teacher salary debate that hasn’t gotten much attention lately? How women’s pay compares to men’s.

Fixed salary schedules that set pay based on education and experience would seem to ensure that the gender pay gap wouldn’t be an issue in education. But recent studies in two states found that’s not true. Virtually no matter how the data is analyzed, female educators earn less than their male counterparts in both Pennsylvania and Illinois.

Disparities in the education field — which here means teachers, principals, and district leaders — come in part because men are more likely to move up to administrative positions. And male principals and administrators are paid significantly more, possibly because there is more room for negotiation in those positions.

“As in with other professions, I think that the education field needs to think a lot about how they promote and how they identify people to be promoted,” said Judith Kafka, an education historian.

The big surprise is that a gender gap persists for classroom teachers, although it’s relatively modest after accounting for differences in experience and districts — about $500 in Pennsylvania. Read the full story here for more about why.


Local stories to watch

  • Tennessee’s state takeover district is still not showing results after five years, according to a new Vanderbilt analysis. Nevertheless, the approach, which involved charter operators taking over district schools, has been promoted in other states as a model for turning around struggling schools.
  • New York City’s teachers are about to get paid parental leave for the first time. The existing policy only allowed birth mothers to use accrued sick days after having a baby, putting pressure on educators to spend years “banking” those days.
  • Denver is getting another “innovation zone.” The zones are groups of district schools overseen by a single board of directors and given autonomy over some spending — a sort of district/charter hybrid.
  • The future of Newark’s unified enrollment system is unclear. Efforts to unify charter and district admissions are popular with philanthropists, but Newark’s system remains controversial among those who see it as an effort to fuel charter school growth. Still, it would be hard to fully unwind it now. “You would have chaos,” said one board member.
  • An Indianapolis charter network known for extremely strict discipline is rethinking its policies. Tindley is set to end automatic suspensions for minor infractions like chewing gum.

Matt’s research round-up

  • One in five teachers are working second jobs, according to federal study, which comes amid national concerns about stagnant teacher pay. About two-thirds of those outside jobs were related to teaching or tutoring, and they brought in nearly $5,000 in extra income.
  • Federal innovation grants usually don’t boost learning, a new analysis finds. The study focuses on i3 grants, which the U.S. Department of Education awards to develop, validate, or expand promising initiatives from new reading programs to certain charter networks. Only 12 of the 67 programs produced clear evidence that they improved student learning, though there were few programs that showed negative effects.
  • Access to contraception in schools might actually boost teen pregnancy. That’s the surprising result of a recent study that looks at what happened when condoms were distributed in public schools across the country in the early ‘90s. When condom distribution was paired with mandated counseling, though, there didn’t seem to be an increase in pregnancy rates.

DeVos watch

DeVos returned from her trip to Europe this week, and her official schedule lists meetings with members of Congress yesterday and a Cabinet meeting tomorrow. DeVos’s school safety commission will also meet tomorrow and hear presentations from experts on cyberbullying, violent entertainment, and press coverage of mass shootings. No mention of guns.

Late last week, the education secretary praised school choice efforts in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, specifically mentioning England’s charter school-like “academies.” We previously wrote about research showing that the rapid expansion of those schools did not lead to any gains in student learning.


What we’re reading

  • It’s unclear whether officials have any sense of how they will reunite children and parents who have been separated at the border. Associated Press
  • San Francisco ended tracking in middle school math, and the effort is showing some promise. Education Week
  • About 10 percent of the nation’s charter schools serve more white students than nearby district schools. Hechinger Report
  • “In the U.S., there is adult jail and there is school, and the two rarely go together.” One exception: this high school in New Orleans. The Marshall Project
  • In response to the expansion of charter schools, Nevada’s largest district, Clark County, has stepped up its marketing efforts. Nevada Current
  • Even several years after they were adopted, the Common Core standards continue to vex some California parents. San Jose Mercury News
  • After spending big against Gavin Newsom, California’s likely next governor, charter school advocates are trying to mend fences. L.A. Times
  • The federal education law tells schools they should rely on evidence about what works. That could mean some promising interventions are missed because they’re hard to study. Brookings Institution
  • Richard Buery on his new job at KIPP: “We are striving to lead great schools and to advocate.” Rick Hess
  • Here’s what has happened to Obama-era education initiatives under the Trump administration. Education Week

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Photo: Colorado teachers wearing “Red for Ed” gathered in front of the Capitol in April. (Erica Meltzer)