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Yes, school funding matters

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by cranberry, Apr 25, 2016.

  1. cranberry

    cranberry Well-Known Member

    The second part of NPR's excellent series on school funding and why it matters was published today. It reached the obvious conclusion: Of course it does. But it also discusses how outside factors, especially poverty, necessitate additional funding in some areas and how additional dollars need to be used in ways that most directly effect kids in the classroom.

    Unfortunately, the problems identified require government and legislators and school administrators to step up. It's not as easy as saying the teachers are bad, lets fire them or giving away scarce public school dollars to private schools.

    Can More Money Fix America's Schools?

    Make no mistake, money can make a difference in the classroom. If:

    Takeaway #1: The money reaches students who need it most.

    Did Mary's mother get arrested the night before? Did Johnny not come with shoes to school? Those to me are not core issues of education.

    Indiana state Rep. Tim Brown, a Republican

    "What I see as the ideal in many ways," Hanushek says, "is a system that provides extra resources to kids that need more resources. So this would be ELL kids. Special education kids. Disadvantaged kids in general."

    In other words, the kind of targeted funding that helped Goshen build its special EL program in Indiana, or that paid for Revere's district-wide reset.

    Takeaway #2: The increases come steadily, year after year.

    For extra money to have an impact, Study B and the story of Revere in Massachusetts suggest that it can't just be a one- or two-year boost.

    The funding was like winning the World Series.

    Karen English, schoolteacher in Revere, Mass.

    Takeaway #3: The money stays in the classroom: paying, training and supporting strong teachers, improving curriculum and keeping class sizes manageable.

    Money alone does not guarantee success any more than a lack of it guarantees failure. Paul Reville, the former Massachusetts education secretary, says not all districts there were able to translate funding increases into academic gains. Often, the difference was how they spent the extra money.

    And so we come full circle.

    This debate — How You Spend versus How Much You Spend — isn't a debate at all. Or shouldn't be.

    Each depends on the other.

    Extra money spent thoughtlessly is no panacea for what ails many schools. But it's also true that, to pay for the kinds of things (and people) that are most likely to help vulnerable students, many schools need more money.

    Lost in all of this, of course, is perhaps the most important takeaway — a question that all educators, parents and policymakers should ask themselves before they spend a dime:

    Takeaway #4: How do we define success?

    Is it just about test scores?

    Or should our focus widen to include wages, incarceration rates and other life outcomes of kids many years after they leave the nation's schools?

    Because the lesson of Camden and, again, of Study B is that not all school spending, especially on meeting students' basic needs, can be expected to improve test scores. But that doesn't mean it's being misspent or failing the children it's supposed to help.

    Here's a link to Part I.

    Last edited: Apr 25, 2016
    Donny in his element likes this.
  2. doctorquant

    doctorquant Well-Known Member

    These are awfully good questions. One could argue that given that schools exist to educate, perhaps "test scores" (in the sense that they, or something like them, truly reflect cognitive development) are what it's "just about." One could also argue that there might be other institutions, with influence on these life outcomes, that could deliver similar results at a lower cost; just because more money spent on public schools has a positive effect on these things doesn't necessarily mean more money spent on public schools is the best choice for how to use scarce resources.
  3. cranberry

    cranberry Well-Known Member

    Got an example of another institution that could have a more direct impact than schools? What would you consider a "better choice" for scarce resources? Obviously, preschool is a strong early intervention.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2016
  4. doctorquant

    doctorquant Well-Known Member

    Oh, I don't know. Family. Church. Community. Some other institution, governmental or no, that has yet to emerge, or that at present is dwarfed by others.

    My kids -- and yours too, I'd wager -- attend/attended "good" public schools. But you could probably lop off 10%, 15% of those schools' funding and never notice a difference in the outcomes (educational or otherwise) that you get. Because while those schools are/were important to our children's development, they weren't paramount. You and I, and the lives we created and the habits/values we inculcated, were of much greater importance.

    Maybe 10%, 15% more for a "not good" public school would nudge the bar. Who knows just how much more it'd take to make a difference? But the "more" doesn't happen in a vacuum.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2016
  5. cranberry

    cranberry Well-Known Member

    One absolutely could argue that there might be other institutions, with influence on these life outcomes, that could deliver similar results at a lower cost. But one would be need to demonstrate that in a very compelling way before it would make sense to divert already scarce and insufficient school funding to such a vague notion.
  6. doctorquant

    doctorquant Well-Known Member

    Oh no, sorry, you misunderstood. I didn't mean to imply reducing existing funding. Rather, I was talking about additional funding.
  7. old_tony

    old_tony Well-Known Member

    Are we spending more per student now than we did 50 years ago? Definitely. What has that gotten us?
  8. outofplace

    outofplace Well-Known Member

    Have we been punishing people for committing murder? Since that didn't stop all murder, we should just give up.
  9. cranberry

    cranberry Well-Known Member

    I thought my kids' public schools were good, but they could have been better and I think a 10 - 15-percent cut would have hurt outcomes, at least marginally.

    Class sizes were still too big, teachers were inadequately supported and many, if not all, dipped into their own pockets for supplies -- even my son's special needs teacher in Bronxville of all places. She made sure she had the best and best equipped special needs program in all of Westchester, which is why we moved my son to the program, but she went out of pocket every year to do it.

    My daughter wouldn't have experienced her level of success had she not received a scholarship to one of the best and most expensive prep schools in the county.

    That said, I doubt my anecdotal impressions matter very much.

    I agree 100 percent with this, which is why I get frustrated with the "blame the teacher" folks who refuse to acknowledge the crippling effects abject poverty -- basic health, nutrition, shelter, abuse, neglect, incarcerated parents, drug abuse, etc. -- have on a kid's education and ability to succeed. Great teachers and great schools can mitigate some of those problems to a certain extent, but they can't fix them.
  10. outofplace

    outofplace Well-Known Member

    Now take church out of that first statement and you are on to something.

    The separation of church and state is real in this country whether you like it or not, and it has value. The commitment to provide public education to all is also important. I understand the issue is more complex, but this post does seem to suggest a cut in public school funding.
  11. JohnHammond

    JohnHammond Well-Known Member

    Dick Whitman would tell you the "separation of church and state" screed wouldn't have played well in his first-year constitutional law class.
  12. micropolitan guy

    micropolitan guy Well-Known Member

    Come on. You know you can't fix education/infrastructure/etc.etc. etc. just by throwing money at it. That approach only works with the Department of Defense.

    We definitely are spending more per citizen on the military and related nationbuilding than we were 50 years ago. And what has that gotten us?
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