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


We Should Be Able To Do Better Than This 

The school district that I work for has announced recently that it is, based on different legislative actions that are shaping up right now, facing a budget deficit somewhere in the vicinity of $50 million this year.

$50 million. Just consider that for a moment. In a school district of roughly 84,000 students, that's a funding deficit of around $594 PER STUDENT.

The causes for this are multiple and varied, and they include the economic downturn and the crash of the real estate market.

But $50 million is a big number, and it has led to some pretty wild speculation, including everything from a four-day school week to teacher furlough days to a salary cut for teachers.

But nobody--at least nobody that I've heard from--is attacking the root of the problem. And that is this: the way we fund schools is inadequate to the needs of this world in this time. Schools are paid for from a combination of federal (7%), state and local monies in conjunction with local property taxes. When the real estate market crashed, school monies went down; when an area ages and decays (as areas are wont to do), school monies go down. When the legislature has too many mandates and too little money, school monies go down.

My contention is that as long as school funding is tied to property values, the system is designed to create and/or broaden the gap between high performers and low-income students. The system as it is currently designed practically guarantees that geography is destiny: your opportunity for a great education is largely tied to what neighborhood you live in.

I would love it if somebody would come up with a better way to fund school--and vouchers, if at all, are only part of the solution (vouchers would still be tied to property taxses). I welcome thoughts on the issue, and I will be offering a few thoughts of my own over the next few days.

If the future depends on the education of our children, then we had better start coming up with a better way to pay for that education.

Because I don't want to have to learn a new language . . .like German.

More on this in the days to come.

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