Individual Assessment, Individual Allocation
‘Round here, we tend to be skeptical of buzzwords, generally, and “fair funding formula” talk, specifically, but I like what Cumberland Mayor Dan McKee says here:
A strong education funding policy would be based on individual student need, establishing the base level of state support every student requires and providing additional support through an equitable and transparent formula for special needs that require costly additional services.
This measurable amount of funding would follow a child to any Rhode Island public school parents choose. Only in this way can we get taxpayers’ dollars where they were intended to go. Only in this way can we avoid the practically comic system under which we now live, where a district can continue to receive tens of millions of dollars for thousands of students who no longer attend its schools or, in many cases, even live in the district, while another district can face an influx of costly students and not receive one additional dime in state aid. Only in this way can the state stop providing fiscal incentives for bad results like high dropout rates.
Unless the money follows the student — wherever his or her parents wish to spend it — Rhode Islanders can’t even trust the evaluations whereby students are determined to be “special needs,” because the assessors have financial incentive to return a verdict of “yes.” The only way forward is to increase parental freedom. And that doesn’t mean “regionalization,” so that the same core infrastructure can protect the object of its gluttony; it means “competition,” so that districts begin to think of students and communities as the granters of revenue, not merely the raw materials that can be transformed into money by the machinery of politics and bureaucracy.