November 10, 2009

Individual Assessment, Individual Allocation

Justin Katz

'Round here, we tend to be skeptical of buzzwords, generally, and "fair funding formula" talk, specifically, but I like what Cumberland Mayor Dan McKee says here:

A strong education funding policy would be based on individual student need, establishing the base level of state support every student requires and providing additional support through an equitable and transparent formula for special needs that require costly additional services.

This measurable amount of funding would follow a child to any Rhode Island public school parents choose. Only in this way can we get taxpayers' dollars where they were intended to go. Only in this way can we avoid the practically comic system under which we now live, where a district can continue to receive tens of millions of dollars for thousands of students who no longer attend its schools or, in many cases, even live in the district, while another district can face an influx of costly students and not receive one additional dime in state aid. Only in this way can the state stop providing fiscal incentives for bad results like high dropout rates.

Unless the money follows the student — wherever his or her parents wish to spend it — Rhode Islanders can't even trust the evaluations whereby students are determined to be "special needs," because the assessors have financial incentive to return a verdict of "yes." The only way forward is to increase parental freedom. And that doesn't mean "regionalization," so that the same core infrastructure can protect the object of its gluttony; it means "competition," so that districts begin to think of students and communities as the granters of revenue, not merely the raw materials that can be transformed into money by the machinery of politics and bureaucracy.

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Agreed. So who provides the money that follows the child and in what proportions?

Posted by: John at November 10, 2009 4:21 PM

Sorry to rain on the parade, but while this is an improvement, it's "not much."

Limiting the per child fund to choice among "any public school" is a bit like saying one can purchase any car one wants, as long as it's GM. So one ends up with a choice of essentially the same vehicle, albeit with different grilles.

We need competition, with parents being able to enroll their kids in higher quality "Toyota" and "Honda" private schools, not just settling for a choice of inferior quality "GM" public schools.

And in any case, that "choice" will be illusory. It's not like Barrington or East Greenwich are going to open up a bunch of slots so that parents from other communities can enroll their kids there.

The money has to follow the child to whatever the school the parent feels is best for their child, not just inferior government run schools.

Posted by: Ragin' Rhode Islander at November 10, 2009 4:47 PM

Justin who is it that admins these special
Ed evals and what precisely is the incentive. I work in a district in which the testing is done by qualified teachers and in some cases a school psychologist. We do not get any bonus money for admitting more students to special Ed. In fact the more students i admit to special Ed the larger
The caseload that I handle. No extra money for me, so who are you talking about?

Posted by: Cheese at November 10, 2009 5:10 PM
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