There are a few arguments in favor of a measure like this. First of all, 64% of Georgia public school districts spend less than 65% of their dollars in the classroom. So it isn’t as though we’re talking about a handful of offenders here. You should know that Clarke County is one of the most egregious offenders, spending only 59.04% of its money on instruction. That 5.96% gap may not seem like much, until you crunch the numbers, which we are more than happy to do for you. CCSD Superintendent Lewis Holloway’s proposed 2005 – 2006 budget amounts to some $98.1 million (source here). 5.96% of that $98.1 million budget amounts to some $5,846,760.00, almost $6 million, for those of you whose eyes just glazed over, that would be spent in the classrooms under the 65% solution.
By the way, if you’re not living in ACC, here are some other local numbers. The OC spends 66.66% in the classroom, Barrow spends 65.29%, Jackson spends 60.44%, and Madison County spends 65.38%. So there’s a definite need to spend more money in the classroom.
That was the good part, now here’s why maybe we shouldn’t do it. To give everyone’s eyes a rest (especially if you just waded through the previous post on the Voter ID Law, I’m going to switch over to bullet points.
- Instructional time is important. So are school buses that run properly, metal detectors (sadly enough), nurses, guidance counselors, special education, library books, and a host of other things. The important thing to note is that while it may seem that the “wasted money” not going into the classroom is all padding the back pockets of lazy administrators, that’s far too simplistic a view.
- Every school is different, every school district is different. Put another way, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. Republicans (and to be fair, some Democrats) rant and rave about local control of schools. Just like the case with No Child Left Behind, you can’t have non-local mandates and local control. The truth is someplace in between local control and non-local guidelines, but in any event, school districts should remain flexible. Is the flexibility threshold 65%? Maybe it is; we’re not education specialists, we flat don’t know.
- It’s just far too simple a solution for a complex problem.
- The problem is not necessarily the percentage of money being spent, but how much there is to be spent. The ABH addresses this part of it in an editorial today. To analogize the situation, let’s say that your rent (at the cheapest place that meets your needs) takes up 65% of your paycheck every month, and you make $2,000.00 per month, meaning you spend $1,300.00 on rent every month. Now, if the sum of your other expenses, such as gas, groceries, bills, etc adds up to another $1,000.00 per month, then you’re short $300.00 each month. Is the problem the amount of money you’re forced to spend on rent? Or is it the amount of money you bring home each month? Dawg Corleone would say that you’re a loser and should get a better job. We’ll just let the numerical analogy speak for itself.
Are administrator salaries and administrative overhead the big issues? We think so. Fact is, we’ve got administrators right here in ACC who, in our opinion, are overpaid. (We’re not naming names, you know who we mean.) How about this for a mandate that might do some good? Mandatory independent audits of every public school district in Georgia, starting in September 2006, and occurring every two years thereafter. Maybe that will indicate the fat that needs to be trimmed. We would also refer you to this post for more of our Hilary-angering ideas on education.