Sunday, November 27, 2005

Surprise, surprise

Report finds no benefit to funding mandate |
an analysis of test scores in Kansas and nine other states found a lack of evidence linking higher student achievement with higher proportional classroom spending levels, according to a recent report by Standard & Poor’s School Evaluation Services.

Increasing classroom resources is a “laudable goal,” the report said. But the report concluded “no minimum spending allocation is a silver bullet solution for raising student achievement.”
Missouri has been pushing the idea of requiring schools to spend 65% of their funds in the classroom, and it is a "goal" in Kansas law. The problem is, what counts as "classroom spending" is fairly arbitrary.

Are librarians classroom teachers? What about gym teachers? What about nurses? Guidance counselors? Principals? What if the principal teaches sometimes? How about security guards? I could go on.

And where exactly did 65% come from? As far as I can tell, thin air. Why not 60%, roughly the national average right now? Or do the NCLB thing: require 100% of funds to be spent on classroom teaching, but let the local schools define what that means.

Then we can have the same success that "reform" brought.

It's too bad Ted Kennedy bothered trying to work with the Bushes on education and health care. Medicare and the schools are worse off, the Bush's protected their plans with a Democratic figleaf, and real problems went unsolved.

The problem with NCLB's path to national standards, and the problem with the 65% nonsense, is shared by the approach Bush has taken on so many issues. The people being regulated are allowed to define success and are expected to regulate their progress toward success. It's the same story on the environmental laws (Clear Air, Clean Water, Endangered Species, mining and forestry regulations).

There are real problems in the schools, and dicking around with accounting tricks or writing tests that make everyone proficient isn't the solution. If the government intends to fix things, it needs to actually roll up its sleeves and get specific.