Some good analyses of what it means to have a “bipartisan” Democrat majority in both branches of Colorado’s statehouse:
The Post’s David Harsanyi looks at some of the “dopey” and “nanny” bills being proposed by our legislators. Good intentions do not necessarily lead to successful results, nor do they necessarily make good public policy.
Michael breaks down the Democrat response to Governor Owens’ State of the State speech.
Breaking down Democrats’ statistical assertions, Michael finds that many of the disparities in claims come down to this: the Democrats and liberals tend to measure input and the Republicans and conservatives tend to measure output. Best example? The statistic cited by many liberal groups that Colorado ranks 49th among states in education funding, based on the total wealth or earning power of the state. Liberal interest groups argue that because Coloradans make more money, they should give a larger percentage of it to the state to finance K-12 education. There are three basic reasons why this oft-cited statistic is meaningless and misleading.
First, it neglects the folly that is Amendment 23, which already shoehorns the budget by mandating increased expenditures from the general fund to pay for K-12 education.
Second, it neglects the fact that Colorado is actually very close to the national average in actual per-pupil funding. Colorado ranks either 26th (if you count students on the fall enrollment date) or 28th (if you count students based on average daily attendance) in the nation in actual per-pupil funding, not 49th. These statistics are taken from the most recent annual “Rankings and Estimates,” put out by the liberal National Education Association (pg 55, Table H-11; pg 57, Table H-16).
Third, and most important, it neglects (as Michael points out) the actual results being achieved. On every measurement of the standardized NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) testing – especially math and reading – Colorado ranks above the national average. It’s the output, stupid.
Could Colorado be doing better job of education? Of course. Is pouring more and more money into the system going to bring improvement? Find me the study that shows it will work. More money without more accountability, higher expectations, more competition, and more choice for parents…. well, that just makes some people feel better.
But that’s the problem, isn’t it? Do we just want people to think we care, or do we actually want to educate students so they can learn? K-12 education is clearly a complex and nuanced issue, which makes the “throw more money at it until my conscience is cleared” approach a bit too simplistic and dangerous. While it may do almost nothing to help the students, it works pretty well to line the pockets of the teachers’ union.
Update: The Rocky Mtn News has some additional on-point commentary on the education ranking hoax and the problem of so-called “adequacy studies.”