Blogger's Note: I'm in a bad mood this morning. I apologize in advance for the crankiness, but I won't apologize for speaking the truth about the increasingly crappy #edpolicy decisions being made here in North Carolina.
In just another example of the illogical destruction of a once celebrated K-12 school system, the North Carolina legislature — led by conservative wing-nut Senate leader Phil Berger — pushed through a new budget last week that requires schools to be rated on A-F scales, reintroduces rigid promotion gateways that will lead to more student retentions, AND insists that local districts implement performance pay for teachers.
This all sounds great in theory, right?
"It's about damn time," the argument goes, "that we start holding schools — AND those fat lazy teachers — accountable for something!"
And it fits right in with the "declaring war on teachers and breaking public education to pieces" approach to school reform (see here and here) being modeled in educational wastelands places like Florida and Tennessee — which rank 30th and 44th in a 2011 study of the states doing the best job educating their kids.
But here's the hitch, Phil: North Carolina ranks 45th in per pupil spending — ponying up an average of $8,409 per pupil, $2,200 LESS than the national AVERAGE of $10,615.
That means theoretically that a large school like mine (which serves nearly 1,200 students) has $2.6 MILLION less to spend PER YEAR than schools of similar sizes in states that spend the national average on education — and $8.2 MILLION less to spend PER YEAR than schools of similar sizes in states like Vermont, which regularly stand atop the "best educated" lists generated by the folks over at Statemaster.com
Shocker, huh? Kind of hard to believe that individual schools — or districts or states — with MILLIONS and MILLIONS more to spend EVERY YEAR on schools, staffers and/or supplies actually outperform those of us who haven't got two nickels to rub together.
Thom Tillis — the North Carolina House's very own penny-pinching, tea-drinking, underinformed dribble spouting conservative superhero — recently said:
“We are open to ideas that promote public education and produce positive outcomes for students and teachers."
Glad to hear it,Thom. Here's mine: Either start providing our schools with the resources that they need to do the job by getting our per pupil spending up to the national AVERAGE or quit pretending to be shocked by the mediocre results that we're able to produce when you systematically tie our financial hands squarely behind our backs.
The moral of the story isn't all that hard to understand: Positive outcomes for students and teachers start and end with actually HAVING the resources to do the job that you're asking us to do.
(As an interesting aside for my local readers: Circumstances are even worse in Wake County, where we only spend $7,700 per pupil — almost $3,000 less than the national average. The way I see it, we're doing pretty well considering what we've been given.)
Related Radical Reads: