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There's a lot to like about the latest plan, but its cost is unrealistic.
I'm all for increasing funding if there are targeted initiatives, metrics to gauge the success of the initiatives, and accountability if the initiatives underperform (e.g. Defunding) .
For most Districts funding is not the problem. Individual teachers in many Districts are earning more than the average household income. Reform should come in the form of Districts paying their teachers what they can afford, rather than always increasing compensation than coming back and asking for more money.
The increase the working group proposes is about the same as schools got in the last couple of sessions, and is about at the rate of inflation. We can't let schools keep falling behind inflation - this increase will not get close to addressing the inadequacies in school funding, just make the system fairer and keep up with rising costs. The reform won't work without at least an inflationary increase. If we aren't willing to increase school funding, no amount of rearranging the deck chairs will keep us from hitting the iceberg.
I just heard a great report from MPR where math/science students in Minnesota out performed nearly every other country out there and out performed most states (on par with Massachusetts). This should mean we are going in the right direction and we can stabilize our education spending. I'm fine with education spending reform but let's keep in mind we're already at the top and there's not much need to drastically increase education spending...it's how we spend the money not that we always need more.
I went back and read the recommendations of the Education Finance Working Group. "Simple" and "equitable" are not words that I would associate with the complex verbal gobbledygook contained in that report. The bottom line is obvious though: over $600 million in new funding for education. Why "simplification" and "equity" are synonymous with "let's have a huge spending increase" is not explained. I would challenge any reader of your newspaper to read that report and claim to understand it. Our elite educators are simply not capable of communicating.
Here's another method. Rank all the districts by spending and results. Find the ones that have lower spending but higher results. Obviously these are the districts that have figured out how to use resources efficiently and effectively. Then start using them as a model for the other districts.
"Create a state funding pool by taking $300 per student from existing voter-approved operating levies." -- That one does not seem right at all. The tax payers approved that funding for their district, typically means they voted to increase a property tax so their school could be better funded, the state stealing that and putting it into a general fund, most likely to then waste in districts that are already full of other waste, does not seem right at all.
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