Class Notes: Charter Schools, College Costs and More Education News

Each week, TIME's Kayla Webley fills you in on the goings on in the education world, everything from pre-K to higher ed.

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Low-Income Schools Get Fewer State Funds
Research released by the Department of Education on Wednesday shows high-poverty schools are being shortchanged, leaving the poor students who attend them with fewer resources than their wealthier peers. According to the report, more than 40% of schools with low-income students spend less per pupil than other public schools in the same district, and do not pay teachers as much as wealthier schools just a few miles away. Under Title I, the government gives extra funds to high-poverty school districts, but according to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, too often that money fills budget gaps rather than closing achievement gaps. “[The] findings confirm an unfortunate reality in our nation’s education system,” Duncan said in a press call with reporters. “Many schools serving low-income children aren’t getting their fair share of funding.” The full report, which surveyed 13,000 school districts during the 2008-09 school district, is here.

Charter Schools Don’t Measure Up
Student test scores in Chicago show that while charter schools are often heralded, they don’t always measure up. According to this story from the Chicago Tribune, more than two dozen schools in the city’s most prominent and largest charter school networks fell short of district averages on standardized tests, showing that many charters do not perform any better than traditional neighborhood schools—and in some cases, the charter schools may actually be doing much worse.

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Colleges Want Do-Gooders
Survey results released this week by found community services is an increasingly important factor in college admissions. The third annual Community Service and College Admissions Survey found community service ranked fourth in importance on the list of factors admissions officials consider, above reference letters, interviews and legacy status, but below G.P.A, SAT/ACT scores and extracurricular activities. The full survey is here.

Duncan Urges Colleges to Lower Price Tags
Kicking off what the Obama Administration is billing as a “national conversation” about the high cost of college, Sec. Duncan made remarks at a conference of college financial aid workers in Las Vegas on Tuesday, urging those officials to “think more creatively and with much greater urgency” about how to curb costs and reduce student debt.

Penn State of Mind
In next week’s magazine, my colleague Sean Gregory and I have a story on how a football-first culture on college campuses like Penn State can warp reality—and morality. In places like Syracuse, N.Y.; State College, Pa.; and Columbus, Ohio, college sports are now too-big-to-fail economies, and this has implications for everything from the safety of students to the mission of the universities. Subscribers can read the full story online here, or you can find it in next week’s issue on page 48.

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Kayla Webley is a Staff Writer at TIME. Find her on Twitter at @kaylawebley or on Facebook at You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.