A Choice Consolidation
I’m not a fan of top-down consolidation — at least not in Rhode Island. It’s not as if our system consists of a competent, efficient state-level government attempting to stay afloat on a roiling mass of expensive, unruly municipalities. The whole beast’s cancerous throughout, and the more diseased flesh we graft onto the heart, the more risk we run of that fatal metastasis.
Thus, consolidating all healthcare benefits into a statewide contract, as in Julia Steiny’s example last week, sounds like a wonderful idea, but it could prove akin to scheduling a root canal procedure to be performed while one’s under anesthesia for brain surgery. With a psychotic doctor. Who isn’t a dentist.
By the end of her column, though, Steiny is right on track:
The 36 school districts will consolidate when they have good reason to. When they want to. Allowing parents the right to shop and choose their child’s school will give districts good reasons to deploy more resources in service of the kids and families, or go out of business. And choice-driven consolidations will occur in more useful, creative and less bloody ways than any mandate to join up ever would.
Magical consolidation schemes and funding formulas aren’t going to resolve Rhode Island’s problems until there’s a mechanism in place for true accountability. Giving parents a choice with at least some not-insignificant portion of the tax dollars allocated for their children’s education would act as a holistic medicine. For best, most rapid effect, it should include private schools, but such details needn’t be resolved until the diagnosis has been agreed upon.