Monday, June 30, 2014

The overdue reconsideration of the foundation formula covered in today's Telegram and Gazette. Two things need correction:
  • The foundation budget commission was included in both Senate and House versions of the budget and made it into the conference committee budget, released last night. As such, so long as the conference committee budget goes through, the various bills referenced don't need to go anywhere. 
  • Deputy Commissioner Wulfson's comments are not only worrisome; they're wrong. First, the reconsideration of the foundation budget is, bluntly, called for in the original law. It is, aside from all other considerations, overdue for being recalcuated. The state is REQUIRED to do just that, not decide to tie this up with further strings, as happened in the original decision. It is the moving forward of the commission that has held districts off from filing suit again, as the state has not fulfilled its responsibility under current law.
  • Second, this notion that money is not "a magic bullet" makes for a nice sound bite, but it is also wrong. There is a large body of research--stretching well beyond the state's "well, we spent more money on Worcester, but they're not doing as well as Weston, so clearly that's a fail" reasoning at work here--in part stemming from Massachusetts' funding itself clearly demonstrating that in fact funding does very much matter. You can start with this post from December by Bruce Baker, and go from there. School finance cases across the country, including the most recent one in Kansas, have consistently said that money matters, equity matters, and that part of what needs to be considered is the needs of the students served. It is dismaying, to say the least, to have the Deputy Commissisoner of (among other things) finance be so ill-informed. 
I understand that this is going to be a political process, but let's not start with bad information. 

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