Monday, December 19, 2011

Be the Change for Kids, Part 4

We split into three groups. One talked about revenue enhancements. The basic feeling was "Why is this our job? Shouldn't the legislators be deciding where the money should come from?" However, ideas included private investment in schools, increase in lottery aid, surcharge on salaries or traffic violations, pay for play, marketing curricula, national purchasing cooperatives, regional bargaining/statewide contracts, and imposing a tax on high-spending districts.

One group talked about reallocation of resources. The feeling there was that mandate relief had to come first. The group wanted a definition: What is a sound basic education, what does it look like, and what should it cost? It may not be reasonable to base the formula on CRW when there are land-rich areas of the Adirondacks where the citizens are dirt-poor. Resources need to reflect demographic shifts, and the overall pie must be bigger.

The third group talked about restructuring public education. Perhaps we should be talking about countywide school districts. We should get away from the concept of mandatory seat time, allowing for individualization (hybrid online instruction, internships, etc.) Traditional teacher prep programs aren't working, and we need a way to weed out bad teachers.

I learned that a school district may not declare bankruptcy. If it has no money, the state legislature may enact a control board and take over (void) contracts, but that is thought to be so unpalatable politically that it will never happen. What will happen? I think we'll have a good opportunity to witness the answer over the next couple of years.

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