Tuesday, February 14, 2017

It's as If It's More About the Union and Less About the Students; But, That's Crazy Talk

For example, with a little arithmetic, we learn that, as of the most recent year available (2014-15), among Connecticut's "poor" urban districts, Hartford got about $14,900 per student from the state; New Haven about $12,500; and Waterbury about $9700. Among its "rich" suburban districts, Greenwich got just over $1000 per student; Darien got about $950; New Canaan got under $600; and Fairfield got a big $535. Gap? Now, you may think that it is perfectly appropriate for Connecticut to give most to all of its state funding to its poorer districts, while leaving the richer districts mostly on their own. But really, to call this a "gap" in favor of the richer districts couldn't be more ridiculous.
It is obvious to anyone sentient that simply providing more money doesn't improve the quality of education without there being a context for improvement. Having spent a fair portion of my life as an educational administrator, I can note that there are few institutions that can waste money with a greater pathological inefficiency than schools. My parents were staunch members of their respective teachers' unions when I was growing up, with my Dad also serving as union treasurer, and they would be appalled at how little of funding is actually used for the direct education of the student. Then, there's this:
Meanwhile, classic "blue" jurisdiction Connecticut is facing approximately its 30th annual budget "crisis." The additional money for these poor urban school districts will have to come from somewhere -- either from the (already meager) grants to the richer districts, or from other state spending, or from increased taxes. Any of these options will make Connecticut even less competitive in attracting new businesses and entrepreneurs, and in keeping its wealthy citizens from leaving for more attractive states. Given that it is absolutely certain that the additional money will not improve the schools, would Connecticut's poor be better off instead with a better business climate that might attract more businesses and jobs? Nobody in Connecticut thinks to ask such questions.