Tuesday, July 8, 2008

If: more failure = more money; then: less money = less failure?

Things that don’t make sense for 200:

“Because the state-funding formula is based on attendance, the district loses money whenever a child enrolls in a charter school. Charters are also publicly supported.”
Now, I’ll admit that the state’s school finding formula is one of the more oblique pieces of legislation in Missouri’s history, but this particular statement from the Post-Dispatch makes me want to pat all the board members on the head and give them lollipops. This is the argument against opening more charter schools—that they cost the St. Louis Public Schools money. I find that farfetched, and hope someone really looks into the fiscal impact of charters on city schools, but regardless: the SLPS has had ample resources from the state and city to make improvements without any lasting, systemic success. So what in heaven’s name would cause board members to believe that money diverted into another school would have any affect whatsoever on the quality of education in our public schools? Given the recent trend, it would be much more reasonable to assume that the less money the district receives, the better academics we’ll see. Why? Because of competition. Competition would force the district to tighten its belt and become more efficient in getting results. I think SLPS would achieve substantially if dollars-per-student was not a given, and they had to earn each student just like the charter schools have to do.
Meanwhile, the board is doing what it always does, no matter who is in charge: behaving as if students are dollars, not individuals with rights. If we, as a city, can offer a better education through the proliferation of charter schools and other alternatives, then by ALL means we should. The board has essentially said: “we don’t want your ***** solutions. Even if you are better able to educate a child, we’re not going to support it if it takes money away from our enterprise. We’re more concerned about our benefit than the benefit that child might get. We’d rather see a child fail in our schools than lose money sop that he can succeed somewhere else.” The effect that charter schools have is no different than the effect of families moving outside city limits and going to Clayton or Brentwood in reaction to SLPS’ loss of accreditation. It is not the fault of charter schools, but up until now SLPS was ensured the money from every family who couldn’t afford to move to a more expensive neighborhood.
I’m sick of it, and I’m sick of money rhetoric. How much more are we going to spend while SLPS asks us to just wait a few more years, a few thousand more children, till they get it right? There are schools already getting it right and getting results.

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