A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Saturday, November 12, 2005

It Came From Outer Space-- or Arizona-- well, same diff

Well, we knew it was coming. The puerile governor of Missouri, whom I like to call “The Boy King,” has jumped in on the game of “Me too!” being played out in Red states and is now proposing legislating the 65% Plan., which of course was first dreamed up by a group called First Class Education (more on this later).

As reported in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Only 112 of Missouri's 524 school districts meet the 65 percent benchmark now. …Yet some of those local districts have some of the highest test scores in the state. And some get only 3 percent to 7 percent of their money from the state.

In a news conference, Blunt proposed putting his plan before voters statewide in November 2006. At first Blunt called for a constitutional amendment. Later he said that while it is important to get the issue on the ballot, he would support a change in state law if that's what legislators prefer.

"This year we face a challenging budget environment," Blunt said. "We need to ensure those dollars we provide for schools benefit students."

Blunt calls the idea "Our Students First - First Class Education for Missouri."

Jeez, The Boy King can't even cover his tracks well enough to use a different name from that of the original group behind this idea.

When asked about the plan, one Missouri superintendent noted, "Our district gets only 5 percent in state funds, and the state is interested in telling us how to spend all the funds."

Then there’s this observation:

…A spokesman for the Missouri School Boards' Association, said the governor's proposal defines classroom instruction narrowly. For instance, food service, counselors and buses are not included.

"The implication of this proposal seems to be all these other things are somehow wasteful and unimportant and that couldn't be farther from the truth, Just because it is not directly spent in the classroom doesn't mean that it does not affect and help kids with their education."

[The spokesman] said the school boards' association opposes the governor's proposal because it takes control away from local boards.

Blunt said boards will still have the ability to decide spending in the classroom. He said that 35 percent should be enough to cover overhead - administration, libraries, staff development, transportation, food and utility costs.

Libraries??? Libraries are “overhead,” and football is “instruction”???? And has anyone informed The Boy King about how much utility costs have risen lately (which he would know if he wasn’t busy selling himself to the highest bidder using corporate donors’ planes to fly hither and yon without being accountable to state taxpayers)?

I am STUNNED that alleged conservatives would betray their states’ rights roots on the question of local control of schools. To me, a bedrock conservative principle has always seemed to be “It’s my money, so I should get to decide how to spend it.” Agree with that or not, but it is local taxes that provide the funding for schools. The federal government and the state governments want to have their unfunded mandates and get praised for them too.

Then there's this bit from an archly funny piece in the Marshall, Missouri local paper:

"Since Blunt's "initiative" is actually a copy of the plan being pushed in all 50 states by a Washington, D.C.-based group known as First Class Education, let's look at a few things about that organization....

First Class Education hopes to get the issue on the 2006 ballot in up to 10 states, including Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Ohio and Oklahoma, and raise at least $10 million to fund the effort. Add Missouri to that list of states.

"Stateline.org obtained a First Class Education memo circulated among Republican lawmakers in several states that lists 'political benefits' by putting the 65 percent proposal on the ballot. The memo, first published by the Austin American-Statesman last month, says the proposal will 'create tremendous tension' within state education unions by pitting administrators against teachers and will divert spending on other political goals of the 'education establishment.'"

Although it is listed by some as being based in Washington, DC, the Arizona Republic states in an October 20 article that Randy Pullen, a Republican from Scottsdale, AZ, was behind much of the strategy, with funding from Patrick Byrne, chief executive of overstock.com.

It seems so ridiculously simple. That's what makes it scary.


At 11/12/05, 4:55 PM, Blogger Mike in Texas said...

We have the same problem here in Texas with Gov. Goodhair, except he's trying to do it by executive order, since the legislature couldn't manage to pass it. Same restrictions as you mentioned, libraries don't count but football teams do.

At 11/12/05, 8:28 PM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

It's always the same plan. Trust me, The Boy King will try anything he can-- executive order or whatnot.

Governor Goodhair-- I LOVE Molly Ivins!

At 11/13/05, 9:15 AM, Blogger Fred said...

We have the same problem here in Florida - the bureaucrats increasingly dictate how we allocate the money given to us. What's especially troubling is Tallahassee withholds money if test scores are not up to their standard. So - inner-city schools that need the most money are always being shortchanged.

At 11/13/05, 2:59 PM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

What kind of pretzel logic is that? Is this because Florida has a hard time funding schools with such a high concentration of retired people and snowbirds?

At 11/13/05, 8:14 PM, Blogger Fred said...

It's called "Bush-logic."

At 11/13/05, 10:32 PM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

Ohhhh yeah. The Other Bush brother--not the dyslexic S-and-L scandal one but the I-Can't control-Noelle one. I'd almost forgotten about him.

Thank Goodness his wife has put her foot down about the presidency.....

At 11/30/05, 9:05 PM, Blogger Tom Hanna said...

So local schools get 5% of their money from the state, 10% from the federal government and 100% of the bureaucratic strings that keep dollars out of the classroom from those two sources. Is anyone dumb enough to not at least consider saying "thanks, but no thanks" to money that costs more than it provides really intelligent enough to be in charge of education?


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