My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


Education Reforms that Matter, part I 

Ben brings our attention today to a wonderful article by Vince Carroll regarding the liberals' favorite mantra (that Colorado ranks 49th in education spending).

Colorado does not rank near the bottom of all 50 states in its per capita support of K-12 education. Not close. This canard has been repeated so often over the years that it has been transformed into an article of faith among many education-spending advocates.

Even the liberal Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute acknowledges that the state doesn’t rank nearly so low in straight-up comparisons of dollars spent. “Using data from U.S. Census’ Public Education Finances Report,” the institute concluded in a June report, “ . . . Colorado ranked 34th in per capita spending” for fiscal year 2003-’04.

Meanwhile, Governing magazine’s sourcebook (sourcebook.governing.com), a nonpartisan compiler of data, ranks the state 25th in per capita spending on K-12 education for 2005 (the latest available year).

Does this ranking give me a prticular tinge of pride? No--being near the middle is not really something to write home about.

On the other hand, spending in this range, with results in this range (8th grade math tied for 12th highest) or this range (8th grade reading tied for 15th highest) seems to indicate we're getting a great return on our investment.

So, when we're talking about reforms that may actually matter (as I will over the next several days), let us immediately dispense with the old canard that we merely need to spend more money on the issue. Simply putting more resources at the disposal of our schools will not be enough to unlock the unfulfilled potential in our students.

Such a thing can only happen if we start thinking of a different system altogether, rather than simply making a bigger system.


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