Thursday, April 30, 2009

State education funding

A hot button issue in Arizona right now revolves around education funding. I'm going to admit that I don't have strong opinions on the matter for the most part and am using this post just to pass along some information sent to me via Facebook email from Arizona state senator, Thayer Verschoor (district 22).

From the email...

Here are some interesting fact taken from AZ Dept of Ed reports:

ADM went from 859,023 in 2004 to 951,117 in 2008 a 10.7% increase.

Number of Administrators went from 2,804 in 2004 to 3,305 in 2008 a 17.9% increase.

Number of Classified Managers went from 2,374 in 2004 to 3,030 in 2008 a 27.6% increase.

Number of Teachers went from 47,396 in 2004 to 53,883 in 2008 a 13.7% increase.

Average Teacher salary went from $42,324 in 2004 to $49,331 in 2008 a 16.5% increase.

Superintendents salaries went from $12,837,427 in 2004 to $19,188,361 in 2008 a 49.5% increase.

Total state aid went from $3,179,994,562 in 2004 to $4,453,747,156 in 2008 a 40% increase

I don't know what an 'ADM' is, or a 'Classified Manager' for that matter... but looking at the above stats it is clear to me that teachers (you know the folks that are actually charged with educating the children of Arizona) are getting the short shrift over the last four years.

Locally I couldn't name the Superintendent or anyone on the school board off the top of my head, so this isn't an indictment on them. Also, I don't have any children in the school system so this subject doesn't normally rate all that high on my list of concerns... again I'm hardly the expert.

It's just that the figures seem to me, at least, to be top heavy with administration, i.e. bureaucracy. Judging on history bureaucrats aren't all that productive so that is probably where the state should focus on for education budget cuts.

Update: Cool someone agrees with my point of view. I pulled the following off of Facebook as well from one of my FB pals...

Cutting out the education middleman

Today at 9:00am
by Clint Bolick

Last fall, voters rejected several efforts to consolidate school districts. While the supporters had a kernel of insight--it's wise to capture economies of scale--they pursued the wrong approach. Instead of making school districts bigger, we should abolish them.

School districts are obsolete, especially in a state with a student-based funding system and statewide open enrollment. Their bonding powers distort equal student funding. Their boundaries and wildly divergent sizes make little sense.

We should replace the political bureaucracies with regional service providers that would offer goods and services that can be provided more efficiently through a centralized pool, such as transportation, textbooks, insurance, accounting, and specialized services for students with special needs. Schools could purchase such services from the regional provider or privately, creating competition that would keep costs low.

At the same time, power over budgets, personnel, and educational mission should be devolved to the school level, increasing the influence of parents, teachers, and principals as well as the responsiveness of public schools to their students' needs. Each school would be able to pursue its own priorities, whether increasing teacher salaries, improving physical facilities, or providing cutting-edge technology.

Maintaining school district relics exacerbates inequality of opportunity while perpetuating an unnecessary level of bureaucracy. Abolishing school districts is a classic case of addition by subtraction. At a time when our state is urgently looking for ways to both save money and improve educational opportunity, this is one idea that accomplishes both.

Clint Bolick is director of the Goldwater Institute Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation.

I might be able to find a link to this, and if I do I'll include that.

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