Bureaucrats defend spoils style funding

Well-paid bureaucrats and political appointees continue to resist child-centered funding reforms.

Since early summer, the Ways and Means Education Funding Act Study Committee has been working on a plan to reform the state’s messy, inequitable, and ineffective public school funding laws.

The obvious solution to the problems is “smart funding” which allocates money directly to schools on a per-student basis, rather than to districts on a per-program basis.

But bureaucrats have pushed back. That’s because there is a lot at stake for them. As it stands, a mere 45 cents per allocated dollar actually reaches the classroom in the form of instructional spending. Smart funding threatens to raise the figure, leaving less for the high-dollar and heavily-politicized staff apparatus sitting in administration buildings across the state.

Tuesday the bureaucrats went before the Funding Act Study Committee (again) to plead their case.

John Cooley of the Education Department took up the case of protecting important bureaucratic spending, his own $113,000 salary not withstanding

john cooley salary.jpg

Cooley was grilled by Representatives Merrill, Roland Smith, and Chairman Duncan about how the department would respond to a streamlined funding formula. Observers described Cooley as “evasive” and “dismissive.” Bizarrely, Cooley actually insisted that when it came to ever-more tax dollars for public schools “to me, it’s only one line item.”

Sadly, this sort of arrogance and entitlement among so-called “public educators” speaks the the heart of the funding problem. Ineffective public policy is being created, perpetuated, and expanded without any regard to the interests of parents and their children. Dismal results for 2008 SAT, ACT, and PACT scores are only the most recent reminders of public school failure and why the massive $11,480 in per student funding needs to be narrowly focused on classroom instruction, not administrative excess.

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