September 29, 2008

Please Define "Predictable"

Monique Chartier

In "The Unspoken Roadblock", Justin points out that, while ignoring the six letter complication in our education system, among other education reform measures, RIPEC has called for the state to

implement a predictable formula for state financing of local schools

RIPEC is not the first to use this phrase. The question that pops into my head whenever I hear it is: What does "predictable" mean?

First, as to quantity. If education aid to cities and towns were cut by 20% (which is about right considering the state's finances) and the General Assembly said, okay, this is what we are committing to distribute every year going forward, that would be predictable, wouldn't it? There's always been a lurking suspicion, though, that some of the people who call for "predictable" funding don't just mean "reliable" but also "more" funding from the state.

If this is the case, we then have to ask, would additional funds be productive? Our school/student performance is in the bottom fifth nationally while teacher compensation is in the top fifth. Hasn't Rhode Island inadvertantly become the experiment that proves that lots of money does not improve an education system?

Additionally, quite an inequitable distribution ratio got established early on, a ratio that has never been revisited. Some cities and towns receive far more state funding than others and on a basis that does not appear altogether logical. Is fairness part of the definition of "predictable"? Will equitability be addressed as part of establishing a "predictable" funding formula?

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Maybe we could fund the disticts based on the number of high school graduates that do not require remedial reading , math and writing courses as incoming freshmen at our local colleges . Maybe we could base it on the number of students graduating that actually qualify for graduation or just base it on the number of students MEETING the state standards without being taught to the test .

Posted by: leprechaun at September 29, 2008 5:54 PM

"There's always been a lurking suspicion, though, that some of the people who call for "predictable" funding don't just mean "reliable" but also "more" funding from the state."

Well Golleeeeee you are suspicious of our progressive "friends"

Posted by: Mike at September 29, 2008 6:43 PM

Well, I didn't want to go too far out on a limb, Mike ...

Posted by: Monique at September 29, 2008 9:18 PM

No, leprechaun, you've got it backwards (or so the argument would go): The schools with the lowest success rates clearly need the most help (i.e., the most money).

Posted by: Justin Katz at September 29, 2008 9:38 PM

Predictable school / state aid: a voucher for each child (equal amount throughout the state), redeemable by the parent(s) at the school of their choosing, "public" or "private," at which they feel their child is most likely to benefit.

Posted by: Tom W at September 29, 2008 10:55 PM
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