Below is a link to a new column written by Bruce Baker on his blog School Finance 101.
Baker is a Professor in the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers. He is also one of the nation’s leading experts on school finance policy. No, actually I take that back, he is the nation’s leading expert on school finance policy. He is also very knowledgeable about the strengths and weaknesses of Connecticut’s particular school financing system and has written extensively about how Connecticut’s funding formula has been corrupted over the years.
Whereas I call myself an advocate for better public school financing in Connecticut because I blog about the topic, Baker actually understands the complexities surrounding the issue at an unprecedented level.
If we could just get our state’s policymakers to read – and more importantly – understand the key points Baker raises, we’d be more than halfway toward solving the problems facing Connecticut’s public education funding system.
Until then, I urge everyone else to read and learn;
I was intrigued a few days ago when I saw this headline in my news alerts regarding school funding.
I was particularly intrigued because the headline comes from a Connecticut newspaper where I am fully aware that the state really hasn’t done crap to substantively increase resources for low performing, or more specifically high need schools and districts.
Disclaimer: I am fully aware of this because I have been providing technical/expert assistance to local public school districts that have been persistently shortchanged by the state school finance formula (Education Cost Sharing Formula). That, and even prior to my involvement supporting these districts (and more importantly, the kids they serve) in Connecticut, I had already blogged on their plight.
So then, how can it possibly be that that a CT newspaper would print such a ridiculous headline? And where could one possibly find a “Report” that somehow validates that the state has provided funding to help low performing districts?
Well, in Connecticut, where there’s data-free drivel on education policy spewing from the headlines, there’s usually one single source for that drivel – our old friends at ConnCAN!
Yep, they’ve produced a new report! And it’s about as technically solid as many of their previous reports!
An important caveat here is that the ConnCAN report itself (the linked report) doesn’t really seem to address directly the point that is highlighted in this article – that the reforms being implemented by the Malloy administration have improved the financial conditions of districts serving high need populations.
So then where does this strange assertion come from? Did the author of the “news” (used as loosely as possible) article simply make this up – or were they fed this line by ConnCAN? I’m not sure… but the author of the article in the Middletown newspaper begins with this bold statement:
Funding made available by last year’s Public Act 12-116 has helped some of the states lowest-performing school districts, including Middletown, according to the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now, an education advocacy organization based in New Haven.
Then, the author of the article summarizes what are characterized as “Highlights from ConnCAN’s March 2013 Progress Report.”
I find it hard to believe the author of the article crafted these summaries on his/her own. So, let’s take these fact-challenged reformy highlights one at a time (again, on the assumption that these highlights are somehow intended to support the article’s thesis – that the reforms have somehow mitigated funding problems/disparities?):
School Finance: P.A. 12-116 created a Common Chart of Accounts to be implemented in 2014-15, creating across the board standards aimed at enhancing transparency in education spending. To date, the Office of Policy and Management has selected the accounting firm Blum Shapiro to develop a framework for Common Chart of Accounts development and execution.
Let’s start here with simple acknowledgement that creating a common chart of accounts does little or nothing – okay, NOTHING – to enhance the equity or adequacy of educational funding across districts. So, what did the state actually do to enhance that funding? Not so much really.
Figure 1 shows the effect of the $50 million dollar increase in ECS Aid for 2012-13, when added to Net Current Expenditures (NCEP) for 2011-12. The 2011-12 NCEP distribution is shown in green dots. The changes to NCEP that would result from the additional state aid are shown in orange dots. In green dots, we see that districts like Bridgeport, New Britain, Waterbury and Meriden are significantly disadvantaged by the ECS formula in 2011-12, in terms of their resultant NCEP.
AND, perhaps more importantly, we see that “increases” to funding for 12-13 really didn’t change much!