Thursday, March 18, 2010

Stepping Back To Look At Education Funding

The New York Times weighed in the other day with an opinion on President Obama's approach to the No Child Left Behind act. Long version short, it waxed enthusiastic over the notion of a carrot or the stick approach to school funding, boosting spending on schools that performed well while trimming it for underachievers.

The problem with this approach is it embodies what the Australian rock band Midnight Oil once expressed in one of its songs: "The rich get richer / The poor get the picture." While no one can make an successful argument that throwing money at anything is a genuine solution, trying to plan a curriculum with no idea what the budget will be is impossible. School budgets are already mercurial in the extreme as local and state governments, strapped for cash due to falling tax revenues brought on by the present economic woes, are cutting spending to the bone.

A brief aside: There are no magic money machines out there to tap, no matter how fervently some might believe there are pools of cash waiting to be discovered. This lesson should have been learned by the failure of financial institutions once thought incapable of so much as a stumble, let alone collapse. They were undone by the burden of unpaid debt acquired through reckless acquisition of irresponsible home loans taken on during the housing boom by people who never should have been given loans. There is no bottomless well of money for government programs. Period.

This notwithstanding, surely there is a means by which school funding, coupled with requirements for performance, can be stabilized. Our children, and the vast majority of teachers who are dedicated to their profession, deserve nothing less.

P.S. Speaking of Midnight Oil, here's the song for which the band is best known:

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