Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Successful Schools Act- Um, no thank you

The latest piece of legislative idiocy to grace the national stage is the U.S. House's Successful Schools Act.  It is a classic diatribe against federal overreach and in favor of a lower federal role in education.  

I think the bill is poorly researched and based on "ideology math."  Here's my own poorly researched rebuttal.  I'm using actual data, but I'm putting it together and creating comparisons as I see fit.  In other words, I'm doing exactly what the bills authors and supporters did.  The only difference is that I'm writing a blog post, they're writing legislation.

For the purposes of illustration, I'm going to focus on a few key numbers from two states- Mississippi and Minnesota.  Minnesota is both my home state and the home of the bills primary author.  Mississippi is the alpha to Minnesota's omega on, well, pretty much everything... 

It's a Republican sponsored bill.  The State of Mississippi has four Representatives in the U.S. House, three of whom are Republicans.  I think it is safe to say that they have, or will, vote in favor of the bill.  Fine.  But remember, a key goal of the bill is to reduce the role of the federal government in K-12 education.  Here are a few easily obtainable facts regarding current federal education spending in two states, Mississippi and Minnesota. 

  • Mississippi receives $2,052 federal dollars per student (2011 data),
  • Minnesota receives $1,080 federal dollars per student 

  • Mississippi, with a K-12 public school enrollment of 490,619, receives $193,652,568 in Title I funds  ($395/student)* 
  • Minnesota, with a K-12 public school enrollment of 839,738, receives $176,949, 502 in Title I funds  ($211/student)*
So, even though the conservative firebrand anti-federal government language and sentiment often appears to be strongest in the south- it also appears that they will take the money.

Let's set aside questions of how and why the federal government role in education expanded in the first place, or how and why so many southern states had a flurry of private academies open in the mid-1960's, or how and why states like Minnesota routinely have much higher educational achievement than states like Mississippi.  All great questions, but for another time.

I have a simple proposal: Let's just reduce the amount of federal education dollars flowing into Mississippi to the amount flowing into Minnesota.  Or, take an average of federal education dollars flowing into the old Confederate States and reduce it to the average of federal education dollars flowing into the Union States. 

The cost savings would be enormous.  Problem solved- as I can't imagine that any new problems could possibly be created.  Looks like we're all done here.  You're Welcome!

*Yes, I understand that Title I funds are not distributed on a per student basis.  In fact, they are distributed on a series of formulas based on poverty rates.  Mississippi has more people living in poverty than Minnesota.  It shouldn't though- seeing as how it is a right to work state with low taxation and low government spending.  One would think that Mississippi would be THE STATE that conservatives would hold up as an example of all that is pure and right and good.  A beacon on the hill, or, more apropos, the Darling of the Delta.

Just guessing, but my hunch is that the Mississippi Legislators subscribe to the theory that federal government spending doesn't help reduce poverty.  So, my plan should provide an easy way for them to walk their talk.

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