SUBURBS TO FAMILIES ENOUGH KIDS, ALREADY
Suburban towns have long sought young families who were willing to pay higher taxes for schools. But many municipalities are beginning to realize that a family isn't such a bargain if it pays $7,000 in property taxes and sends its kids to school at a cost of $8,000 each. Some communities in New Jersey, New York and other states are considering new property-tax breaks to discourage seniors from moving out--lest they be replaced by families with school-age kids.
HIGHER EDUCATION VIRTUAL COLLEGES' STOCKS ARE HOT
Operators of profit-making colleges, which primarily serve working adults, like to think they are in a recession-proof business. If a bear market forces layoffs, they theorize, people in search of retraining and new careers return to school. Wall Street seems to agree. While most stocks have been slumping, the shares of two college systems with strong online programs have surged. Corinthian Colleges Inc. specializes in health care, technology and criminal justice and offers courses on the Internet and at 56 campuses in 19 states. Apollo Group owns the University of Phoenix, online education's oldest degree-granting institution, which also delivers courses at 80 campuses in 20 states.
PAROCHIAL VS. PUBLIC CATHOLIC SCHOOLS SCORE HIGHER
The 98,000 students in New York City's Catholic schools consistently outscore its 1.1 million public school kids on tests of math and reading skills, according to a New York University study. The Catholic schools' lead in test scores, while slight in the fourth grade, was "dramatic" by the eighth grade. That lead was evident even when Catholic and public schools serving poor neighborhoods and minority students were compared. And the Catholic schools spend about half as much per pupil as the public schools.
K-12 A BUSINESSLIKE LOOK AT SCHOOLS
Standard & Poor's, the service that grades the financial health of corporations, is turning its magnifying glass on schools. This summer the firm will publish an online analysis of school districts in Michigan and Pennsylvania, using six categories: student achievement (including scores on state and national tests), learning environment (facilities and class size), finances (spending and revenue sources), return on resources (how spending has affected student performance), fiscal outlook (projections for school spending and federal and local funding), and demographic indicators (including household income, parental education and employment rates). The site, standardandpoors.com is expected to be a politics-free comparative tool for school administrators and lawmakers--as well as for businesses that are considering different towns in which they might open or relocate a factory or an office. Such businesses know that quality of schools is a major consideration for most employees. Pennsylvania and Michigan have signed five-year contracts for the service to track school progress, and several other states are negotiating to get S&P to evaluate their districts. One catch: the service costs each state about $2 million a year.