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Winners and losers in ed funding bill

by Joe Bodell on March 30, 2011 · 17 comments

Courtesy of a reader who’s been looking at the education funding bill hitting the State House floor today, here’s what the GOP majority thinks passes for “fair.”

For all their bloviation about not picking winners and losers, the majority is doing a pretty good job of exactly that. Let’s take a look at what our eagle-eyed reader has noticed about per-pupil funding changes in different school districts:

Centennial Public Schools  +$109 per student (Runbeck)
Eastern Carver Co Schools  +$109 per student (Hope)
Rosemount Public Schools  +$129 per student (Bills)
Lakeville Public Schools  +$122 per student (Hoberg)
Wayzata Public Schools  +$101 per student (Doepke)
Elk River Public Schools  +$150 per student (Hackbarth)
South Washington County  +$150 per student (Dean)

Note the Republican districts are BIG winners.

Minneapolis -$399 per student (this is not a joke)
St. Paul -$376 per student (no, I am not kidding)
Duluth -$113 per student

Let’s take the economic engines of the state and stick it to …. the kids who live in those cities. Makes perfect sense, as long as your goal is to defund public institutions in areas represented by DFLers.

Senator Franken’s pronouncement (also intoned by our own TwoPuttTommy) rings loud and clear: Republicans run on “government doesn’t work,” get themselves elected, then prove it.

AO March 30, 2011 at 1:46 am

I’d like to take a closer look at these numbers.  Have we finally decided to not pick winners and losers among school districts, or are Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth still getting more per pupil than everyone else?

Alec March 30, 2011 at 2:24 am

I know conservatives like things simple, but the world is not a simple place. I have students, several, not an isolated few, that spent the first dozen years of their lives living in tents in refugee camps, and now need to be caught up. Should high needs kids get the same funding?

AO, I know if one of your kids needed glasses, you’d buy all of your kids glasses in order to be equal and fair. In the real world we realize being fair does not mean being the same.

AO March 30, 2011 at 3:58 am

Has racial integration funding reduced the achievement gap?  Needs may be different, but throwing money at the inner city schools hasn’t met those needs.  Are you going to become a better teacher by being given more money?  Or, should we have a system that pays the good teachers more and thus attracts better teachers while simultaneously kicking out the poor teachers.  We can’t control the parenting these high-needs kids receive but we can at least control the teachers.

TwoPuttTommy March 30, 2011 at 5:03 am

Here on terra firma, not so much.

But keep attacking teachers; keep calling them “union thugs.”

And then see how that worked for the GOP in December 2012.

AO March 30, 2011 at 10:52 am

I don’t recall calling teachers “union thugs”?  Are you having daydreams about me again?  :D

minnesota_liberal March 30, 2011 at 7:26 am

Asking whether racial integration funding has reduced the achievement gap is like asking if electronic fish locators have made today’s per capita harvest of freshwater fish greater than it was in 1970.  

Your “throwing money” comment is meaningless and you know it.  Then again, maybe you don’t.

Should we pay teachers for performance?  Sure, but first we need to agree on a way measure that.  The testing focus these days is on NCLB, which tests this year’s 3rd graders and compares their scores against those of last year’s 3rd graders.  The only meaningful measure looks at year-to-year scores of individual students.

TwoPuttTommy March 30, 2011 at 9:04 am

…he’d go google “standardized testing neil bush”

Then he’d figure out why GOPers are so insistent on stanardized testing…..

AO March 30, 2011 at 11:02 am

We’ve spent more and more on the inner city schools, and the gap has widened.  It’s clear that money is not the problem or the solution.  Whatever we decide to do, we had better have higher expectations.

No one is suggesting that a certain test be the only determining factor of a teacher’s value.  The teacher’s value is best determined by his or her boss upon close scrutiny of the actual teaching methods and the academic performance of the class over time.  With our current tenure system, we give little power to administrators, and thus little reason for effective evaluations.

ericf March 30, 2011 at 3:17 am

Not only does school funding now seem to depend on the voting behavior of the district’s voters, but those are some wealthy areas getting more money, while as Alec pointed out, the cities tend to have a poorer tax base and more of the difficult students. Not just more non-English speakers, but more poor and transient kids too.

AO March 30, 2011 at 11:14 am

The main point of my response was to figure out if the inner city schools still get more money than even the wealthy areas who passed bonding bills.  Perhaps I’ll try and look for myself, but this is most likely the case.

The amount of money the teachers make in a school is not the only factor in the quality of a school.  I can’t blame a good teacher for not wanting to teach the misbehaving students, nor can I blame the wealthy kid who doesn’t want to learn with the misbehaving students and whose parents send him to the wealthier school instead.  Giving more money to the school doesn’t change the makeup of the school.

TwoPuttTommy March 30, 2011 at 5:51 pm

You googled “standardized tests Neil Bush” yet?

“GOPers hate subsidizing businesses (except when GOPers get the dough)”

AO March 30, 2011 at 7:50 pm

I haven’t supported NCLB or subsidizing business.  If you’d read a bit more of my writing you’d see I prefer local control of schools supported mainly with local money , and the end of business subsidies along with a simplified and lowered corporate tax.

ericf March 30, 2011 at 9:18 pm

The problem with relying on local money is districts vary widely in resources, and that means the quality of education depends mostly on whether a student wins the birth lottery. The Minnesota Miracle ended that dependence on local resources to provide adequate funding wherever a student lived. That’s when our schools came to consistently rank at the top. We’ve been regressing the last decade by not focusing resources where they’re lacking.

TwoPuttTommy March 30, 2011 at 5:49 pm

after all….

You’re a GOPer.

AO March 30, 2011 at 7:46 pm

I may have called teacher’s union thugs at one point in my life, but I didn’t do it in any of my posts on this topic, which made it quite odd to see you quote me as saying it here.  We haven’t yet seen the thuggish threats in Minnesota like they have in Wisconsin.  I’m hoping that is just another Sconnie thing.

ericf March 30, 2011 at 9:13 pm

The gap has continued, but it hasn’t widened. It hasn’t narrowed as much as hoped. It’s an issue locally in Minneapolis because we have one of the wider gaps, but that doesn’t mean cutting funding helps. We know poverty is the single biggest predictor of achievement, and the GOP is doing nothing about it. Take out impoverished students, and US schools are as good as anyone else’s. The difference is our poverty is higher.

AO March 31, 2011 at 1:37 am

The birth lottery isn’t based upon how much money the local school district gets per pupil, but the teachers and pupils of that school.  Minneapolis and St. Paul have been getting more per pupil under this “miracle” and the results haven’t been miraculous.  Relying more on local money, while it may be less would ensure more direct accountability.  The more each parent has invested in their child’s education, the more they expect.  

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