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Friday, August 22, 2008

Legitimate School Funding Options

More on yesterday's decision by Circuit Judge Lori Wilbur of Pierre that schools (a government entity) can't use taxpayer money to sue other government entities (the state of South Dakota) for more taxpayer funds.

This from today's Argus Leader:

Attorney General Larry Long, who is defending the state, said he was delighted with the ruling. He did not know when a state audit of schools that contributed to the coalition would occur to determine potential reimbursements. Schools paid $3,500 to $7,500 to initially pay for the lawsuit, Long said.

Long said he would pursue having school board members reimburse school districts and taxpayers for authorizing district money to support the lawsuit. About 90 schools are coalition members, but not all members donated to this cause.

Good. They should be held accountable for misusing and wasting taxpayer money.

Their justification for government suing government for more taxpayer funds? Parents and student's can't afford to fund the lawsuit on their own. Boo hoo.
Parents and students can't afford to bring this kind of challenge, and districts' involvement is logical because they're closest to the issues, he said.

"They could have bake sales to raise money, but it's impossible," King said.

If they can't afford to fund a lawsuit, perhaps they could support what really has the greatest effect on academic success: strong families and parental involvement.

A study released late last year by the Educational Testing Service made an interesting observation:
The E.T.S. researchers took four variables that are beyond the control of schools: The percentage of children living with one parent; the percentage of eighth graders absent from school at least three times a month; the percentage of children 5 or younger whose parents read to them daily, and the percentage of eighth graders who watch five or more hours of TV a day. Using just those four variables, the researchers were able to predict each state’s results on the federal eighth-grade reading test with impressive accuracy.

“Together, these four factors account for about two-thirds of the large differences among states,” the report said. In other words, the states that had the lowest test scores tended to be those that had the highest percentages of children from single-parent families, eighth graders watching lots of TV and eighth graders absent a lot, and the lowest percentages of young children being read to regularly, regardless of what was going on in their schools.

Of course, if supporting and strengthening families is too "judgmental" or would simply require too much sacrifice and hard work, maybe they could suggest cutting some of the bloated administrative expenses in the education system.

Or they can use the only legitimate recourse available to them if they're unhappy with school funding: support and vote for legislative candidates who will throw more money at the schools.

The legislature determines budget appropriations for the schools. If some parents don't believe the $7,651 per student we're spending on kids in South Dakota isn't enough, they should work to elect legislators who will tax them (and everyone else) more and spend more money on schools.

That would be a legitimate action.

But before they do, they should take a look at homeschooling families like mine who spend $1000 or less per student and get better results.

They should also take a look at the District of Columbia, which spends the most in the nation at $14,542 per student and comes in 51st in achievement.

This is an equation that always seems to escape the "smart" educrats: More Money <> Better Results.


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