65% solution or 65% delusion?
Around the nation, many governors and legislators are falling all over themselves to trumpet the "65% solution" as a way to hold down costs in education. The "65% solution" simply argues that 65% of all funds going to education should be oriented to instruction. Indiana has been reported to be at 61% but that figure is debatable, as they all are. Politicians undoubtedly see this as a political winner. Who could be against "driving more money into the classroom?"
At least our Indiana governor was smart enough not to attach a specific percentage to it as an absolute target. There is no research to support 65% as the "ideal" public funding level for instruction! Of course he couldn't resist suggesting maybe we could get that up to 70% or even higher.
Here is an article discussing the 65% solution in Texas. Evidently in their current plans football coaches salaries would be considered "instruction" but librarian salaries would not. After winning the Rose Bowl and finishing the BCS as #1, this might actually fly in Texas!
This simple illustration shows that the simplest concepts can be amazingly complicated.
In order to make such state-by-state comparisons about the level of "instructional" funding, clear definitions are required - never an easy task. This only seems simple to people who have no clue.
Here are a few examples:
Are librarians instructional expenses? Maybe it depends on whether they only check books at the counter or whether they purchase your child's reading materials.
Is a teacher aide instructional? Maybe it depends on whether they put up bulletin boards or whether they tutor kids.
Is a computer technician instructional? Maybe it depends on whether they repair your hard drive or whether they work with students and help make instructional software purchases.
Is air conditioning instructional or operational? Maybe it depends on whether or not you ever served as a teacher on a 90 degree day with 90% humidity in a school without AC.
Is a football coach instructional? Maybe it depends on whether your child learned about sacrifice, teamwork, self-discipline and goal setting or whether they learned how to cheat to win.
Is the bus driver's salary instructional? Maybe it depends on whether or not the child would be at school without the bus.
Is the cook's salary instructional? Maybe it depends on how well you learn when you are hungry.
Sorry - but 65% solutions are 95% delusions.