February 1, 2009

A Choice Consolidation

Justin Katz

I'm not a fan of top-down consolidation — at least not in Rhode Island. It's not as if our system consists of a competent, efficient state-level government attempting to stay afloat on a roiling mass of expensive, unruly municipalities. The whole beast's cancerous throughout, and the more diseased flesh we graft onto the heart, the more risk we run of that fatal metastasis.

Thus, consolidating all healthcare benefits into a statewide contract, as in Julia Steiny's example last week, sounds like a wonderful idea, but it could prove akin to scheduling a root canal procedure to be performed while one's under anesthesia for brain surgery. With a psychotic doctor. Who isn't a dentist.

By the end of her column, though, Steiny is right on track:

The 36 school districts will consolidate when they have good reason to. When they want to. Allowing parents the right to shop and choose their child's school will give districts good reasons to deploy more resources in service of the kids and families, or go out of business. And choice-driven consolidations will occur in more useful, creative and less bloody ways than any mandate to join up ever would.

Magical consolidation schemes and funding formulas aren't going to resolve Rhode Island's problems until there's a mechanism in place for true accountability. Giving parents a choice with at least some not-insignificant portion of the tax dollars allocated for their children's education would act as a holistic medicine. For best, most rapid effect, it should include private schools, but such details needn't be resolved until the diagnosis has been agreed upon.

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

As discussed many times in the past, Consolidation is merely an excuse and a crutch used by the hand-wringing fools that refuse to address the root cause of the problem they propose to solve via consolidation.

Specifically, Consolidators refuse to take on the Entitlement-minded Unions that are driving our UNSUSTAINABLE cost structure, sapping precious resources away from textbooks and curriculum and into the pockets of leeches.

Consolidation is simply code for an unwillingness to say “NO” to the Unions.

The unwillingness is borne of ignorance (fools buy into Union propaganda such as Pat Crowley's big lie about teacher pay not keeping up with inflation) and a naive belief that we must accomodate thieves with a go along to get along attitude.

So if we are unwilling to say "NO" at the local level, why would we ever expect a much needed "NO" to come from the state level?

More importantly, the facts don't square with the call for Consolidation.

Consider the follow (which we've reviewed many times before):

RI, with 4,479 students per school district, is far more efficient than the Nation (3,161 students per school district) and neighboring states such as Mass (2,492 students per school district; Conn 3,036; NH 1,246).

Where we are blowing it is in Union salaries & benefits that we foolishly give away.

The following is from from “NEA Research 2007”:

161,237 - Total # of Students in Rhode Island
36 - Total # of Districts in the RI
4,479 - # of Students per District in RI

48,727,536 - Total # of Students in the US
15,416 - Total # of Districts in the US
3,161 - Avg # of Students per District in the US

971,909 - Total # of Students in Mass
390 - Total # of Districts in MA
2,492 - Avg # of Students per District in MA

576,772 - Total # of Students in Connecticut
190 - Total # of Districts in CT
3,036 - Avg # of Students per District in CT

205,567 - Total # of Students in New Hampshire
165 - Total # of Districts in NH
1,246 - Avg # of Students per District in NH

Indeed, all the propaganda that we have too many districts is just that, propaganda. In fact, RI is quite efficient with respect to the number of Districts it has.

Now let’s take a look at the Problem ...Teacher Salaries and the low number of students per teacher ratio that RI has:

Students per Teacher:
11.1 – RI
15.6 – US
13.2 – MA
13.5 – CT
13.3 – NH

Teacher Salary as a % of Median Household Income:

104.4% - RI
102.1% - US
99.6% - MA
97.9% - CT
74.9% - NH

Clearly, the problem is NOT due to too many school districts. Rather, we are getting bent over by the Union and their accomplices who refuse to say "NO". But EP has given us hope.

Rather than Consolidation, make RI a Right To Work state and reform the screwball "collective bargaining" laws and all will be well with the world, with no need for Consolidation.

Posted by: George Elbow at February 1, 2009 6:44 PM

Consolidation, by itself, obviously solves nothing.
it does take a byzantine, confusing maze of contracts and benefits into what the progressive, sodomite Emperor Caligula would call "one throat to cut".

Posted by: Mike at February 1, 2009 7:25 PM

Mike - that's outstanding!

I am now rethinking my position.

Posted by: George Elbow at February 1, 2009 8:27 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Important note: The text "http:" cannot appear anywhere in your comment.