I just posted the following excerpted credo on education in a comment at the Dead Governors Web site. I was getting so much into it that I decided to paste my comment here:
…I beg someone to logically refute the following facts:
1. Colorado spends more per pupil in real dollars on K-12 education now than ever before. In fact, Colorado’s per-pupil spending was at an all-time high right BEFORE Amendment 23 was passed… and has reached an all-time high each year thereafter.
2. Colorado spends less than 58 percent of education dollars in the classroom. (Maybe it’s how we are spending the money, not how much….)
3. From 1992 to 2003, Colorado significantly improved its ranking on national test scores while its national ranking in per-pupil spending went down.
4. The reason Colorado’s ranking went down is because our per-pupil spending increases weren’t as big as the national average.
My goal for listing these surprising facts (of which there are many more) and the following discussion is to make some people read and think about a different point of view.
Maybe, just maybe, people who are opposed to unending spending increases for K-12 education care just as much as you about kids and schools. Maybe they believe in a sort of “tough love” that asks for school leaders to consider new, more effective ways of getting things done rather than just holding their hands out.
After all, public education’s central mission is to educate each child in the system to his or her fullest potential, not to provide jobs to adult teachers or administrators. Whose interests should we be looking out for first?
Maybe the teachers union isn’t evil, just misguided because many of its interests collide with what is best for students. Maybe educrats aren’t evil, just that the vast majority are so focused on protecting the status quo and their own interests that the only fault they can ever see is that there isn’t enough money – never enough. And maybe opposing their agenda from time to time doesn’t make you an enemy of education or someone who hates kids and/or teachers.
My proposal is to remold the public education system with constructive incentives that promote its central mission, maximizing the investments of taxpayers for the good of society. Education tax credits, charter schools, meaningful reforms of pay-for-performance and tenure, in tandem with streamlined and effective accountability measures – these point the way toward a better system. Continuing to feed the system with more & more money without promoting such reforms is not compassionate but naive.
Education funding and reform aren’t the only things to consider when voting for C & D – vote how you will – but those spreading the scare tactics about schools ought to be ashamed of themselves. Anyone interested in a constructive dialogue on this topic can comment here or send me an email.
Thank you for indulging me.