Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Poke the Bear

School boards should keep poking legislature 

to restore education funding

This from the Herald-Leader:
Rep. Jim DeCesare's nose is out of joint because school boards across the state are reminding the legislature that it has failed in its constitutional duty to provide Kentuckians with equal access to an adequate education.
At last count, 86 school boards — beginning with Rowan County in September — have enacted resolutions calling on the General Assembly to restore school funding that has eroded dramatically during the past five years.

Adapted from Messara
The Bowling Green Daily News reports that DeCesare, R-Bowling Green, warned a gathering of school superintendents that if they want more money for schools they shouldn't "poke the bear," evoking the image of a grumpy despot more than a representative democracy.

DeCesare also said he felt as if he had been "thrown under the bus" by the school boards' criticism.
Sadly, it's Kentucky's young people — and future — that are being thrown under the bus by DeCesare and his tax-phobic colleagues.

Kentuckians should keep "poking" the legislature until it wakes up in the 21st century and overhauls an outdated tax system that is inadequate to meet Kentucky's needs.

Even from lawmakers who say they support more funding for schools, all we get is hand-wringing and whines that "we don't have any money."

Many school boards are showing the gumption the legislature lacks by raising property taxes. Unlike lawmakers, these elected officials are fulfilling their public trust.

The problem is, the more dependent schools become on local property taxes, the wider the funding gap grows between poor districts and those where the property tax base is richer. The same property tax rate yields wildly different results depending on whether or not a county has large commercial developments and high-priced residential real estate.

This inequality was at the heart of the 1989 Supreme Court ruling that reaffirmed the constitutional duty of the legislature to provide an equal education across the state. The accident of birthplace, the court said, should not consign a child to an inferior education or reduced chances in life.
The ruling ushered in the Kentucky Education Reform Act and a penny increase in the state sales tax, which together greatly narrowed the gap in funding.

In recent years, however, the gap has increased, as state funding has been stagnant while the number of children in Kentucky schools grows. Since 2008, basic per-student state funding has declined from $3,866 to $3,827.

State funding outside the basic formula — for textbooks, preschool, extended school services, safety and staff professional development — has dropped from $154 million to $93 million since 2008.
And the legislature has never put money behind the new standards and accountability system it mandated in 2009.

Lawmakers should not delude themselves into thinking a recovering economy will bail them out. The revenue picture won't change substantially as long as the tax code is at odds with a 21st-century economy. Consider: State revenue grew 14 percent during the 1960s but just 2 percent during the first decade of this century. Without tax reform, the state will be looking at $1 billion in cuts by 2020.
Thanks to the school boards that are standing up for education and Kentucky's future. All Kentuckians should keep poking the legislature until it does its duty.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think folks need to stop framing this as a funding issue and realize that it is also an outdated delivery system of education which is perpetuated by the short sighted vision of our leaders. We have to divest ourselves of our romanticized, outdated perception of what school is and start preparing them for what the future holds.

In the near future at least half of Americans will either work from home or on the road, not from some stationary facility they go to each day from 8 - 5. We need to start framing our education, at least on a secondary level instead maintaining fleets of buses, paying for social/food service staff and investing in facilities which are just mimicking what currently exists instead of what future facility needs would be.

Seems like it would be a lot easier to invest in handing out tablets and Ipads along with a few extra food stamps to families coupled with some high end and professionally supported online services than maintaining all of the 20th century infra structure in all 120 counties.

THe problem is we are spending all of our time and money maintaining the increassginly more expensive Boonevilles in everyone's educational driveway instead of scraping them and using those recycled materials to funds and share a hybrid.

Come on "leaders", Standardized tests, standardized schools, standardized instruction - really? Stop chasing the newer Norwegian and S>E.Asian copies of our Model's from the last century and create what will be applicable now and in the future for kids. Now that would be something others could be looking really worth others looking at as a guide for our nation.