Confused About the “Funding Formula”

Funding-formula advocate Jennifer D. Jordan reaches too far in this part of her description of Thursday’s Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education meeting, published in today’s Projo

Rhode Island is the only state that lacks a school financing formula, so taxpayers, in essence, pay extra money to support charters.
The word “charters” refers to charter schools. But you can direct money just as easily — maybe more easily — to charter schools through use a “funding formula” than you can without one. Or you could decide not to fund charters, without implementing a “funding formula”. Either way, the decision by a state to fund or not fund charter schools precedes the creation of a “funding formula”; the formula only implements a policy decision that’s already been made.
The “funding formula” itself, no matter what it’s supporters claim, is not a magical incantation that immediately solves any and all policy questions, it is just a way for the politicians to try to deflect responsibility for the decisions they make, e.g. whether to fund charters, whether to raise taxes in the suburbs to pay for schools in the cities, etc. (It might also be used to get some pols to support a program without realizing what it is that they are supporting, but that kind of thing could never happen in Rhode Island, right?)
Finally, Ms. Jordan’s use of “extra” to describe the money used for students in public charter schools requires some scrutiny. Shouldn’t all public school students be considered equally worthy of taxpayer support, no matter what kind of management structure is operating above them? Or does the state see its role in education as promoting particular forms of bureaucracy, rather than funding students?

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Pat Crowley
14 years ago

that confusing idea is the concept of fairness. It may take time but you’ll get it.

14 years ago

Mr. Crowley
re: Jenny J’s shot at charter schools
Perhaps you’ll describe what’s fair about treating teachers as interchangable teaching machines and treating students as standardized product units?
Perhaps you’ll take a moment and explain how charter schools and the choice they offer is unfair – except to your ultra conservative business-only-as-usual education interests?
re: the Sacred Funding Formula
Make sure you equalize current taxes and fees (government and private) in your formula. That would include cost of services – water, sewerage, garbage pickup, etc – whether provided by government directly, by quango or by private companies. For me, privately arranging for the above mentioned services increases my effective tax rate by 40-50%. But it’s not really about fairness, is it?

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