Saturday, May 14, 2005

Another Deception?

More confusion, or is it deception, from the Indiana state house?

Quoted in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette:

The state also is freezing property tax relief payments at current levels, which could save the state about $215 million over two years but shift the tab to property taxpayers.

Daniels said local taxes were directly related to local spending, and schools and local governments could avoid property tax increases by “being as careful about their spending as the legislature is about its.”

Read those two paragraphs again. They contradict one another. Paraphrased another way...The state is forcing local property tax rates to rise, but it is the local school board or local government's fault they are rising. Huh????

There are only two explanations. Either the governor and his staffers are still uninformed on how school funding works, or they are intentionally deceitful. I remain hopeful that the governor and his staffers are still on a learning curve. But I wonder....

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Indiana all over again

Just so Indiana schools don't feel left out, here is an article on the Missouri state legislature and their attempts to change the school funding formula.

Here is an excerpt that tells what the bill WON'T do:

THE BILL WOULD NOT: Erase inequities in what schools spend. Currently, per-pupil spending ranges from $4,771 to $13,379, depending on the school district. The plan would raise the minimum to $6,117, but it would not prevent wealthier districts from continuing to spend more than twice that amount.

In Indiana, the state formula dictates the differences, not property tax values.

I just found it interesting to see that the issues state-by-state are all the same although they manifest themselves a little differently.

Not to discourage those Missouri folks who sued over inequities in funding, but the national case law on school funding lawsuits indicates that within five years the inequities will be back.

That's because politics (competition for scare resources) dictates the formula, not wisdom.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Are video games making Americans smarter?

Here is a provocative article from The New Yorker that takes on the conventional wisdom of today.

Here is a quote from the article that the author takes from the book “Everything Bad Is Good for You” (Riverhead; $23.95), Steven Johnson proposes that what is making us smarter is precisely what we thought was making us dumber: popular culture.

Imagine if video games had come along decades ago, and books were a new invention. Could this be what they say about books?

Reading books chronically understimulates the senses. Unlike the longstanding tradition of gameplaying—which engages the child in a vivid, three-dimensional world filled with moving images and musical sound-scapes, navigated and controlled with complex muscular movements—books are simply a barren string of words on the page. . . . Books are also tragically isolating. While games have for many years engaged the young in complex social relationships with their peers, building and exploring worlds together, books force the child to sequester him or herself in a quiet space, shut off from interaction with other children. . . . But perhaps the most dangerous property of these books is the fact that they follow a fixed linear path. You can’t control their narratives in any fashion—you simply sit back and have the story dictated to you. . . . This risks instilling a general passivity in our children, making them feel as though they’re powerless to change their circumstances. Reading is not an active, participatory process; it’s a submissive one.

Breaking News: Indiana consolidates

As if moving to daylight savings time wasn't a big enough deal to Hoosiers, Indiana is now considering consolidation of smaller school districts in order to eliminate administrative costs. Under legislation passed this session, Indiana will be forming study committees to look into consolidating school districts with less than 1500 students.

In creating this new "cult of efficiency" the state executive branch now considers efficiency to be a "end value" instead of a means to an end.

The Super's top notch "mole" in the statehouse has received another heads-up on a pending announcement from the governor's office regarding further consolidation.

The Super's Blog has learned that Indiana and Kentucky are going to consolidate as states and create a new consolidated state called, "Indyucky."

"Indyucky promises to be a new and improved and clearly more efficient way of doing business," gushed the governor's staffers, "we anticipate being able to eliminate fifty-percent of the legislative positions and most of the state administrative offices."

"The governor is tickled pink over how efficient this will be."

Monday, May 09, 2005

States tire of federal encroachment

Here is an article describing the growing frustration that state governments have with growing federal involvement in education.

I wonder if state governments ever think about how local school districts feel about the growing state control over local schools?

In Indiana there are very few significant educational policy or funding decisions left in the control of local school officials.