Jim Freeman, a consultant for the Wichita school district, presented a school financing plan developed by the United School Administrators of Kansas. I shudder to think about the supposed smart people who got together in a room and developed a plan that goes something like this:
1. The state sets a property tax rate for all property owners.
2. The state then launders the money, taking an administrative cut.
3. State legislators decide which school districts get what amount, and no local taxes are used at all.
4. Theoretically, I guess school boards get to give awards to teachers and students, but don't have any say in where or how the money is spent. (So, that's pretty much the same as today.)
The plan Freeman is advocating is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea.
These schemes almost always result in creating a slush fund, in which politicians use the money sent from far away--ahem, Johnson County--to pad the pockets of their friends and relatives. It may start innocent enough with all property owners forking over 35 to 40 mills to the state, and the state just doling it out in about the same fashion as its doled out now. (Kind of like block grants, which I'm told are terrible, because then the local school board has to decide how to spend the money, rather than state officials attaching all kinds of strings to it.)
Freeman told attendees at an education conference that the money laundering proposal would be a fairer and simpler finance system. I don't know how anyone thinks it's fair for Johnson County homeowners to pay for failing schools in every part of the state rather than just funding our own local train wrecks. I know. We're all supposed to trot out the lie that our local schools are amazing, because if we told the truth--that our local schools are failing kids--we have to face the reality that WE are failing kids. Well, I'm not going to play along with the charade that every school except the local one is the problem. If Schools for Fair Funding can use the argument that schools need more money because they're failing, then I can use the argument that maybe we need to try something different, because no matter how much money we pump into state-funded education, we aren't getting the results we should demand.
I am baffled that the Blue Valley School District Superintendent would for a moment entertain the idea that local taxpayers should send buckets of cash to other school districts at the expense of their own children. We already have socialized schools, and this effort to create a centralized funding mechanism is just asking for fraud and additional failure. This is a socialist policy that school administrators are advocating. And I'd just like someone somewhere to give me an example of when and where that worked out well. I don't need several examples. Just one from all of human history would suffice. History tells us that this centralized, socialized funding scheme won't end well. It will end with dumber kids, worse schools, and less input from parents. And Johnson County taxpayers would get the pleasure of funding the failure.
Anyone from Johnson County who entertains such a scheme should be removed from office by voters at the first opportunity. Honestly, taxpayers of integrity from other parts of the state should recognize that socialism ALWAYS results in shared misery--not success--and should hold their legislators accountable for any such decision as well. To her credit, Melissa Rooker, Johnson County Democrat who says she's a Republican, says the idea is a non-starter.
At some point, it will become evident that what ails our schools isn't funding. It's that parents are given an out by not having to make decisions about their children's education. Most couldn't make a different decision even if they wanted to. Home schooling isn't an option for many, and private schools are out of reach financially. Meanwhile, parents may like a public school in another part of the county, but that option is removed as well.
All of this may be a moot point, as of the last few decades, school funding decisions of any kind aren't really up to the legislature or school boards. School funding decisions belong to the Kansas Supreme Court. On September 21,those justices selected by secret committee will meet and determine whether public schools are adequately funded. (Spoiler alert: They're going to say schools need about another billion dollars. So, get out your wallets.)
If we're going to send all the money to Topeka, and let legislators give public schools an allowance, the very least we could do is allow parents to send their children to the public school of their choice. Something tells me this latest proposal will not include any such provision. The point has never been better educated students. It's a death match for more cash. End of story.