National Journal "Education Experts" (sans moi) Opine on Magical Money Tree
Given the bleak budgetary outlook for many states, should stimulus funds be primarily devoted to staving off education cuts, or should the administration focus on leveraging the money to drive its reform agenda?
Some key quips I like so far….
Using the $100 billion in stimulus dollars just to patch holes in unrealistic state budgets merely prolongs the inevitable, and puts public education on a collision course with a future fiscal climate that could be even worse than it is today.
If local educators do not understand how to access funds, or even how to put forward reform ideas, the decisions on how to distribute funds, to whom and for what purposes will be made only at the highest levels of state and local government. And when those officials are facing significant budget constraints of their own, they are most likely to use the funds to balance their own budget, not fund fundamental reform.
Reasonable people can debate whether this increased staffing was worth the price, but it should have occurred to someone that the cost of hiring and maintaining one additional teacher for every seven additional students was unsustainable.
In good times, leaders in any organization– public or private, for-profit or non-profit– have incentives to push off hard choices and let inertia rule. It is only when circumstances pinch that leaders typically find the stomach to take a necessary axe to budgets, programs, or personnel; and only then that they can plausibly blame such acts on necessity.
Now I’d like to propose the next question for the group of “Education Experts” to discuss: Given his remarkably prodigious insights concerning education policy and his unique position as a child poised to enter the school system, should we atone for our initial failure by requesting Eddie to join us as one of our esteemed experts? And how much groveling do we need to do to make it up to him?
(Okay, just kidding about the second part of the question.) But it’s really hard to get respect as a pundit when you’re 5 years old, don’t you think?