Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Times slams right wing education initiative

It's rare they have such a stellar editorial, but today is one of those days:
Requiring school districts to put 65 percent of their dollars into the classroom won't resolve the financial pressures felt by public education; it would make them worse.

The 65-percent solution is gaining steam across the country — 17 states are considering the idea — and an initiative is in the offing in Washington state. The popularity of this punitive plan is its dubious claim to offer something for nothing. Districts would redirect their operating budget to put nearly two-thirds into the classroom, theoretically freeing up billions without raising taxes.

[...]

But nothing is free, especially not money in the classrooms. The funds freed by a 65-percent rule is money taken from other areas critical to education. This includes curriculum development and teacher training. A school that gave short shrift to developing cutting-edge content and quality teachers would not be successful long.

The 65-percent plan is 100-percent wrong. It offers a one-size-fits-all funding formula for districts that vary in need and spending habits. Such a move wouldn't enhance education, it would severely limit it.

To comply with such a mandate, districts would be forced to make cuts in personnel and services such as custodians and cafeteria personnel.

[...]

The rest of a district's operating budget is not wasted simply because it isn't strictly classroom spending. It includes items that play an equal role in education: think nurses, librarians and guidance counselors; bus drivers and building maintenance.

[...]

Today, most districts are leaner and meaner versions of their former selves, a change forced by economic realities and the rigors of education reform. Regular state audits show strong improvements in the way districts spend and account for money.

The 65-percent solution isn't smart budgeting and it isn't necessary.
We agree. Washingtonians should shun this ill-devised initiative. It will not lead a more sustainable future.

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