JVA’s News You Can Use, 4/7

New York Times, 4/1
Moving to sweep away the tangle of inaccurate state data that has obscured the severity of the nation’s high school dropout crisis, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings will require all states to use one federal formula to calculate graduation and dropout rates. The requirement would be one of the most far-reaching regulatory actions taken by any education secretary, experts said, because it would affect the official statistics issued by all 50 states and each of the nation’s 14,000 public high schools.

JVA: Looks like the movement to find parity in rating schools is continuing to gain momentum.

New York Times, 3/31
Driven by a painful mix of layoffs and rising food and fuel prices, the number of Americans receiving food stamps is projected to reach 28 million in the coming year, the highest level since the aid program began in the 1960s. The number of recipients, who must have near-poverty incomes to qualify for benefits averaging $100 a month per family member, has fluctuated over the years along with economic conditions, eligibility rules, enlistment drives and natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, which led to a spike in the South.

JVA: We’ve all been reading about this subject in recent months; this stat seems to confirm on a very basic level everyone’s fear that we are entering troubled economic times.

New York Times, 3/29
A new report, conducted by four professors who specialize in nonprofit accounting, found that the typical theft from a charity was committed by a female employee with no criminal record who earned less than $50,000 a year and had worked for the nonprofit at least three years. The amount she stole was less than $40,000. Almost 95 percent of the reported frauds entailed loss of cash, and a majority of those involved false or inflated invoices, billing for expenses that were never incurred and check tampering.

JVA: Would you have guessed this?

Ed Week, 3/28
It is one of most widely accepted axioms in math education: Good teachers matter. But what are the qualities of an effective mathematics teacher? The answer, as a recent federal report suggests, remains frustratingly elusive. Research does not show conclusively which professional credentials demonstrate whether math teachers are effective in the classroom, the report found.

JVA: Very interesting—for those in the education sector, particularly the math field, do you agree with this study?

Foundation Center, 3/27
America’s family foundations awarded $17 billion in grants in 2006, a 21 percent increase from the previous year, a new report from the Foundation Center finds.

JVA: Despite the rough economy, the good news continues to pour in for charitable giving. We hope it can stay this way in the coming years.

Philanthropy Journal, 3/26
Sound nonprofit governance, while not dictated by federal tax law, is important to the successful operation of tax-exempt groups, the IRS says in an article posted on its Web site. To encourage such internal oversight, the IRS “commends” a series of policies and practices, which it says are directed to public charities but also can be beneficial to private foundations and other exempt groups.
The article covers a number of topics, including a nonprofit’s mission, governing body, governance and management policies, financial statements and 990 reporting, and transparency and accountability.

JVA: An important read and topic we are very passionate about here at JVA.

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