Saturday, March 31, 2012

School Funding Ideas

Is this the latest fad?
Economist Rick Hanushek argues today that there is no evidence to suggest “weighted student funding” will improve public school outcomes as its bipartisan backers hope. He contends that simply tying school-level funding to students, and thereby bypassing some of the budgetary role of districts, will create no systemic incentive for improvement and will not advance more substantive reforms.

He’s almost certainly right. Instead, Rick contends that districts should be financially rewarded based on their performance, borrowing a key aspect of the free enterprise system. But just that one aspect… and that’s a problem. There is no reason to believe that slapping a single isolated aspect of the market system on to the side of our state school monopoly will transmogrify it into a model of efficiency and responsiveness. Any more that strapping feathers to a brick can make it fly.


allen (in Michigan) said...

Hanushek ought to have his license to commit economy revoked. Rewarding districts is a ridiculous idea.

A reward only works where one contestant can be compared to another. The isolation of districts that's part of the district system effectively precludes such comparisons.

Superintendents may, although it's unlikely, get fired as a result of the district not getting some incentive. But will a school board see a bunch of new faces as a result of not getting that incentive payment? Unlikely in the extreme.

By the time the school board elections roll around the failure to get an incentive will have lost such modest electoral value as it ever possessed.

As for weighted student funding, we've already seen how well that worked out with the abuses of special ed programs.

mazenko said...

Uhm ... k-12 public education is not a market system, and cannot be expected to operate as such.

allen (in Michigan) said...

So sayeth Mike.

Care to expand a trifle?

From my perspective the unsupported, not to mention unnuanced, assertion is more an indication of how very market-like K-12 education could be absent the public education monopoly and you know it. Since you know there's not a very compelling case to maintain, or establish, a monopolistic public education system the less said in its defense the better.

And based on the actions of numerous state legislatures I represent the majority view and you, well, you represent self-interested point of view.

mazenko said...

Now, see, your tone so clearly indicates your desire to end public education just out of contempt. It shouldn't be like that.

I'm interested in adapting and growing the idea to create the best possible outcomes. And whether that's vouchers or Khan Academy or distance learning or rethinking the K-16, I don't care. As long as we are producing quality education, and helping children grow into responsible adults.

allen (in Michigan) said...

Setting aside your putative ability to infer contempt on my part, care to elaborate on the unsupported assertion that "k-12 public education is not a market system, and cannot be expected to operate as such"?

Certainly public, i.e. government-funded education isn't market-driven but is there anything about education that precludes a free market approach?

Higher education is certainly freer of government interference then is K-12 and America's higher education system, despite its costs, continues to attract large numbers of foreign students. One could conclude that the free market higher education offerings of America offer enough in value to offset their cost which is the operation of a free market. Is there anything about K-12 education, keeping in mind the existence and success of private solutions, that makes K-12 education inherently averse to free market solutions?