The Funding Formula Distraction

Rhode Island’s education aid “funding formula” debate is moving from the sublime to the ridiculous. Pat Crowley (an assistant executive director with the Rhode Island chapter of the National Education Association) has posted on his blog a link to a video clip of Senate Majority Leader Teresa Paiva-Weed discussing the purpose of redesigning the formula. The Senator says that the current formula needs to be rebalanced to better address the needs of “second-tier” urban and suburban communities…

The focus has been on the urbans. That’s not to say that the urbans don’t need to continue to be important, but the question is there was a lot of challenges from the communities, both in the second tier and the suburban communities, that we were relying on an antiquated formula and that different things had occurred in the various communities that weren’t being addressed by the funding formula.
Meanwhile, former interim Central Falls school superintendent William R. Holland argued in yesterday’s Projo that Rhode Island’s education funding priority should be more money for urban districts — and he has a study paid for by the state legislature that Senator Paiva-Weed helps lead to back him up…
The recent Wood Associates Education Adequacy Report commissioned by the General Assembly calls for increased funding in urban districts, citing the high percentage of low-income families and the high cost and percentage of special-education and English-language learners in those districts.
Providence Mayor David Cicilline expects a revised funding formula to bring more aid to Providence. Yet officials from urban ring cities and suburban towns from Cumberland to Scituate expect the revised formula to bring more aid to them.
They can’t all be right about what the effect of the new formula will be, because there is no way that a funding formula can by itself increase the percentage of aid to the smaller cities and towns at the same time it increases aid to the urban core. Isn’t it about time for the General Assembly to tell the people of Rhode Island what the goal of the new formula really is and to stop pretending there’s a something-for-nothing solution to Rhode Island’s education problems?

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
12 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
John WardD
John Ward
14 years ago

What should be on the agenda is to consolidate the entire state education system into ONE school department.
Instead of discussing a new formula for “State Aid” to the local communities, we should be discussing a new formula for a “State Assessment” to be charged to each community to pay for the students attending school.
The cost savings in a centralized administrative structure can be directed to education initiatives. Cost savings should be found in superintendents (and assistants), curriculum coordination,business offices, human resources, technology and technology contract administration, legal services, special ed administration and service coordination, transportation contracts, benefits administration and more.
We know what we need to do, unfortunately we also know what we will see happen. What a waste if we don’t take this rare opportunity to make a plan for real change.

Tom W
Tom W
14 years ago

>>What should be on the agenda is to consolidate the entire state education system into ONE school department. Instead of discussing a new formula for “State Aid” to the local communities, we should be discussing a new formula for a “State Assessment” to be charged to each community to pay for the students attending school.
That only works if we also eliminate the teachers unions from Rhode Island – otherwise they’ll just “negotiate” a statewide contract in one of the back rooms of Smith Hill, the “state assessment” will be even more outrageous than current property taxes and educational quality will continue to decline as there will be even less accountability for “education professionals” than there is now (if that’s possible).
Oh, and did I mention that “in the interest of fairness and equality” we’d probably also have forced busing within this new “statewide” district?
That way those who fled to the suburbs to try to give their kids a shot at a mediocre education (instead of no education) will find that the urban dysfunction is following them.

John WD
John W
14 years ago

Tom:
No argument from me on the union issue. Something would have to be done about legislating more management rights into the law.
As for your transportation issue and the difference in the quality of education provided between urban and suburban, well, my kids attended urban public schools and got a great education. The problem in urban areas is caused by a higher ratio of non-participating parent(s). We participated and our kids have done very well. No system can compensate for parents who are looking to have the state raise their children for them.

Tom W
Tom W
14 years ago

>>As for your transportation issue and the difference in the quality of education provided between urban and suburban, well, my kids attended urban public schools and got a great education. The problem in urban areas is caused by a higher ratio of non-participating parent(s). We participated and our kids have done very well. No system can compensate for parents who are looking to have the state raise their children for them.
I agree.
And it is not a race or income issue, but a social / cultural issue, i.e., a lack of value placed on educational achievement within households (it has become a cliche, but compare low-income Asian households with other low-income groups).
The problem is that many so-called progressives, in a misplaced notion of egalitarianism, would prefer to export the dysfunctional culture across the state rather than attack the causes of the dysfunction.
In their world, dragging everyone down into “equality” is preferable to lifting up as many as possible (albeit with differentials in outcome).

SusanD
SusanD
14 years ago

“That only works if we also eliminate the teachers unions from Rhode Island – otherwise they’ll just “negotiate” a statewide contract in one of the back rooms of Smith Hill, the “state assessment” will be even more outrageous than current property taxes and educational quality will continue to decline as there will be even less accountability for “education professionals” than there is now (if that’s possible).”
I’ll go one step further. Whether or not the teachers’ unions are eliminated (and they should be), with a statewide contract, we would still have all of the horrors Tom W cites.
There are possibly a couple of aspects of the ed system that should be carefully centralized. The health insurance coverage, maybe, Tom? But the well-intentioned people who talk about consolidating school purchases, for example, are just nibbling around the edges of the school budget problem in this state. And a statewide or even regional school system would be a dream come true for those forces who have already inflicted a mediocre, students are-a-distant-second system on us.

Pat
Pat
14 years ago

Thanks for putting up the link. I think if you read the EFF report that is in the side bar, you would see a proposal that would work and reduce property tax.
And for the folks saying wwe shoudl eliminate unions to make this happen… that is why we have unions, to protect ourselves from that attitude. And if you thinka statewide contract would be negotiated in some “back room” as you say then you have a seriously twisted view of how a contract gets negotiated.

Ragin' Rhode Islander
Ragin' Rhode Islander
14 years ago

>>And for the folks saying wwe shoudl eliminate unions to make this happen… that is why we have unions, to protect ourselves from that attitude. And if you thinka statewide contract would be negotiated in some “back room” as you say then you have a seriously twisted view of how a contract gets negotiated.
OH REALLY?
1) Then explain how teachers / state employees have the current (outrageous) pension benefits … as enacted by the General Assembly.
2) An argument can be made for unions in the private sector.
The arguments against unions in the public sector far outweigh any arguments for them (unless you’re a Democrat politician who relies on mandatory members’ dues recycled into campaign contributions).
And the record of teachers unions irrefutably demonstrates that teacher unionization in inherently incompatible with maximum educational quality, i.e., things such as tenure, seniority and extraordinary job protection are inherently incompatible with a high performance organization.
Good teachers suffer from unionization, as they are not incentivized or rewarded, and are made to look bad because of the mediocrity of the end result; the only people who benefit from teacher unions are incompetent and slacker teachers, and union officials whose paychecks are dependent on the forced dues stream from “members.”

Bobby Oliveira
14 years ago

Dear Ragin,
The explanations are simple:
1.) Weak willed politicians in the 70’s and 80’s did not want to report giving up salary increases so they sold the future away. These things were all negotiated in good faith by your neighbors. However, they never thought the future would come due. It has.
2.) Unions are here for a reason: management, publicly or privately, cannot be trusted to follow the law. That is the only argument anyone needs. Put away the sick dream, unions are here forever.
Some of you are starting to remind me of those loonies who think the 16th Amendment wasn’t passed properly. Cry all you want, it’s not changing.
As far as all of you complaining about the lack of a statewide contract:
It is the Barringtons and East Greenwichs of the world who don’t want it. They torpedo it every time. Go cry to them. Oh, I forgot, some of you are them.

Pat
Pat
14 years ago

BTW are these the Ward brothers that run the Valley Breeze and the Finance Department in Lincoln?

SusanD
SusanD
14 years ago

“Good teachers suffer from unionization, as they are not incentivized or rewarded, and are made to look bad because of the mediocrity of the end result; the only people who benefit from teacher unions are incompetent and slacker teachers, and union officials whose paychecks are dependent on the forced dues stream from “members.””
Exactly.
Annual and step pay increases and gold plated benefits which are completely disassociated from the taint of merit. The NEA, with the help of Democrat school committees and town councils, has literally made a joke out of “it’s for the children”.

Bobby Oliveira
14 years ago

Dear Susan,
Come up with a merit system that works and you may have an argument. However, none of them do.
Until then, it’s just more union bashing done by people with no other idea.
I know the SusanD I read from time to time has ideas and will rise above the din presented here somehow.

Valium
11 years ago

NnIGLr Valium Ambien

Show your support for Anchor Rising with a 25-cent-per-day subscription.