Thursday, January 7, 2016

Quality counts...including in finances

Edweek has published their annual "Quality Counts" report, which ranks states' educational systems on three qualities:
  • chance for success 
  • overall achievement
  • school finance (which is finance equity across districts)
As you'll no doubt read lots of other places, Massachusetts once again topped the rankings, with an across-the-board average of B+. Massachusetts was tops in chance for success with an A- (the only A of any kind achieved) and also tops in K-12 achievement with a B (New Jersey came the closest with a B-).

But finance...

That's Massachusetts WAY down at the bottom of the B's, with an 83.1 percent. As pointed out by Peter Balonon-Rosen for WBUR this morning, that means that only eight states are more inequitable in their funding than Massachusetts.(Update: no, Peter's math isn't wrong; see how the calculation works on page 11 of the Massachusetts report; he's speaking specifically of equity.)
It's important to note that this isn't talking about the amount of funding, though that's important: this is talking about disparity among districts...which is precisely what the McDuffy and Hancock lawsuits were over, and what the foundation budget was designed to fix.
You've heard me say it enough, so I'm going to instead give you Holliston superintendent Brad Jackson, who wants to know "Where's the Outrage?"

So, why, one might ask, are the Governor and our State Legislators ignoring their legal obligations to the children of the Commonwealth and under-funding their share of the costs of educating the next generation?  The answer is simple -- because they'd rather tout their role in "cutting income taxes" while cities and towns, struggling with the relentless stranglehold of Proposition 2 1/2, are left to fight with local teacher unions over breadcrumbs or, worse yet, looking at another round of teacher layoffs to keep things afloat for one more year.  For some reason, the expression "Nero fiddled while Rome burned" keeps running through my head to describe this current state of affairs.

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