The Poster Children
A number of comments have been posted referencing the cost per pupil for educating students. IPS (Indianapolis Public Schools) and Carmel have been used several times in the examples. Here is our theory on how these two districts were unfortunately thrust into the limelight as the "poster children" for school funding debates. Not to their choosing.
Many legislators, and commenters on this forum, have pointed at IPS as an example of high costs per pupil with declining enrollment and schools around Indy like Carmel, with low costs per pupil and growing enrollment.
We used Carmel in our examples because it is an easily identifiable school system in the Indy suburbs that most people think of as an upscale neighborhood with good schools. Unfortunately the word "Carmel" fit in with the whole satire piece and now the word "Carmelized" can become educationalese. One comment pointed out that this is not a good example because Carmel is near the bottom in per pupil spending so how is that proverbial donut getting "iced?"
This still brings out our main point. Carmel's funding woes are mostly due to growing enrollment over the years. Their state ranking in funding per child continues to drop because the number of students they get keeps growing. There are many growing suburban schools in this plight. However, there are many schools that have been in the lower rankings for 30 years.
Our point is that when these funding decisions are all made at the state legislative level the inequity only becomes a concern when the legislators that have the power in The General Assembly notice THEIR constituents dropping down the list.
The growing schools in the Indy donut that have problems are the districts with legislative clout. Now that Marion, Handcock, Hendricks and other counties have school districts dropping lower down the state rankings in funding, NOW it becomes an issue. NOW suddenly, the other schools that have been there for 30 years get a chance to at least enter the debate. (The crumbs that fall from the Master's table... :-)
(Note: We noticed that on the Governor's first RV tour stop he got questioned by the suburban soccer mom wanting to know what her growing enrollment school in the suburb was going to do about the lack of state aid.)
Unfortunately, trying to address the inequity problem while cutting overall educational funding doesn't provide a solution to narrowing the gap. Schools that are at the bottom of the list already but aren't growing are really going to get hammered. They will move further yet down the list so that their funding can be sent back to Marion county and elsewhere. Unfortunately for them they have never had the political clout in Indy to be heard. Out of sight - out of mind.
(Until recently there was no help, no advocates for us. But now that Mitch is on the road in RV One - help is on the way! Reminds me of Rush Limbaugh's hilarious parody skit on John Kerry's statement, "Help is on the way!" .... sung to the tune of Mighty Mouse. Everyone hold up your right hand, clinch your fingers into a loose fist, swing across your body in uppercut fashion while singing loudly in your best Mighty Mouse voice, All together now.... "Help is on the way!!" :-) Miiiigghhttty Mouusssee! Help is on the way!...."
On the other hand, Mitch may wish he hadn't started this whole travel the countryside thing. He may find the Gallup polls were right after all. Every PTO mom and soccer mom in the community may be mad when their child's class size rises and their programs are eliminated. Of course the staffers will figure this out pretty quickly and work harder at screening the audiences if it happens too often. But he says he likes the hard questions so we'll see if he has any answers.