Will We Measure Educational Performance by Inputs or Outputs?

The following comments were made in a Wall Street Journal editorial (available for a fee) entitled Jayhawk Judgment:

…[In Kansas] the state Supreme Court has commanded that the legislature must increase spending on the schools, as well as the taxes to pay for it, by precisely $853 million over the next two years.
This week the legislature has been called into special session in Topeka by Democratic Governor Kathleen Sebelius (who also craves more spending) to comply with this court order. If the legislators do, they will essentially have handed the power of the purse and the power to tax over to six unelected and unaccountable judges.
Thankfully, some of the Republicans in the state legislature are not inclined to be bullied by the court. One of them is Senator Tim Huelskamp who describes the court decision as a “judicial shakedown of the citizens of Kansas for higher taxes.” The court counters that it is simply enforcing a provision of the Kansas Constitution that requires that the state provide “suitable provisions” for financing the schools.
But just what is a “suitable” amount? Kansas already spends a shade under $10,000 per student in the public schools — the most in the region and above the national average even though Kansas is a low cost-of-living state. Also ignored by the courts were the volumes of scientific evidence that the link between school spending and educational achievement is close to nonexistent. Perhaps one reason schools in Kansas aren’t as good as they might be is that the state ranks 47 out of 50 in education money that actually finds its way inside the classroom.
We should add that several other states — including Texas, New Jersey, Arkansas and New York — are now operating under court orders for more financing. The travesty of all these court interventions is that they promulgate the fundamental logical fallacy that has long undermined the U.S. public education system: that we should measure performance by inputs, not outputs. Every other industry in America is obliged to cut costs and get more for less; in education, parents and kids keep getting less for more…
The Kansas media are describing the hullabaloo in Topeka this week as a state constitutional crisis. And they are right. The legislature is sworn to abide by the Kansas Constitution, but that doesn’t mean abandoning its own powers of the purse to an unelected judiciary. This is a showdown between the branches of government, and the legislature has every right to protect its own constitutional prerogatives from judicial intrusion…

Adjusted for inflation, school spending per pupil has tripled over the last forty years and we have nothing to show for it. In the meantime, the performance of American public schools has continued to deterioriate to the point that we are putting the economic future of our country at risk.
And who is whining for more money while they continue to deliver lousy results? The public education bureaucrats and teachers’ unions. Consider the facts:

  • They spend billions of dollars of our hard earned monies each year across America and NEVER deliver.
  • They resist setting performance metrics for educational outputs.
  • They resist merit-based incentive pay for the best teachers.
  • They insist on giving the same salaries and salary increases to the best and worst teachers, just for showing up.
  • They make it nearly impossible to fire the lousy teachers.
  • They insist that seniority, not merit, determine who gets which teaching jobs.
  • They block or attack charter schools.
  • They attack any attempts at educational choice, including for children stuck in our worst, inner-city public schools.

The list could go on and on. And you know what boggles the mind? We listen to these people and pay attention to their drivel!
There is only one viable solution: school choice which puts creates an education marketplace where parents can make the right decisions for their children so all children can have a fair shot at living the American Dream.
The public education bureaucracy and teachers’ union will always continue to resist doing right by our children. The only way public education will ever get better is if we take away their ability to continue doing damage to our children’s future. For the sake of our kids, we have no other choice.
We must begin to measure educational performance by outputs, not inputs.

In a nutshell, here is what I think the negotiating position of the East Greenwich School Committee should be on some of the key financial terms of the contract.
Other postings include:
Background Information on the East Greenwich NEA Labor Dispute
The NEA’s Disinformation Campaign
East Greenwich Salary & Benefits Data
More Bad Faith Behavior by the NEA
The Debate About Retroactive Pay
Would You Hurt Our Children Just To Win Better Contract Terms?
The Question Remains Open & Unanswered: Are We/They Doing Right By Our Children?
Will The East Greenwich Teachers’ Union Stop Their Attempts to Legally Extort Residents?
You Have To Read This Posting To Believe It! The Delusional World of the NEA Teachers’ Union
So What Else is New? Teachers’ Union Continues Non-Productive Behaviors in East Greenwich Labor Talks
“Bargaining Rights are Civil Rights”
The NEA-Rhode Island’s Pathetic Attempts to Manipulate East Greenwich Residents
What’s Wrong With This Picture: 800 Applicants for 14 Teaching Jobs & the NEA Says There is a Problem
In addition to financial issues, management rights are the other big teachers’ union contract issue. “Work-to-rule” or “contract compliance” only can become an issue because of how management rights are defined in union contracts. The best reading on this subject is the recent report by The Education Partnership. It is must reading.
Other editorials and postings include:
ProJo editorial: Derailing the R.I. gravy train
ProJo editorial: RI public unions work to reduce your family’s quality of life
ProJo editorial: Breaking the taxpayer: How R.I. teachers get 12% pay hikes
Selfish Focus of Teachers Unions: Everything But What Is Good For Our Kids
Tom Coyne – RI Schools: Big Bucks Have Not Brought Good Results
The NEA: There They Go, Again!
A Response: Why Teachers’ Unions (Not Teachers!) Are Bad For Education
“A Girl From The Projects” Gets an Opportunity to Live the American Dream
Doing Right By Our Children in Public Education Requires Thinking Outside The Box
Debating Rhode Island Public Education Issues
The Cocoon in which Entitled State Employees Live
Are Teachers Fairly Compensated?
Warwick Teachers’ Union Throws Public Tantrum
Blocking More Charter Schools Means Hurting Our Children
RI Educational Establishment: Your Days of No Vigorous Public Oversight & No Accountability Are Ending
The Deep Performance Problems with American Public Education
Freedom, Hard Work & Quality Education: Making The American Dream Possible For ALL Americans
Parents or Government/Unions: Who Should Control Our Children’s Educational Decisions?
Now Here is a Good Idea
Milton Friedman on School Choice
Issuing a Call for a Higher Quality Public Debate About Education
Is Merit Pay for Teachers a ‘Crazy Idea’?
Reporting False Performance Data Under No Child Left Behind: Why Are We Surprised At Dishonest Behavior By The Educational Bureaucracy?
Lack of Merit Pay Reduces the Quality of Teachers & Our Schools

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