Friday, January 13, 2006

Daniels issues executive order on cooperative purchasing

PRESS RELEASE

In a stunningly bold move, Governor Mitch Daniels has proved that he can not only save daylight time in Indiana but he can even change time itself.

According to a spokesperson close to the governor, Daniels and his advisors were recently shocked to find out that Indiana school districts have banded together since 1981 under Indiana statute SC-1 to save money through cooperative purchasing agreements made through Regional Service Centers. This realization unfortunately came soon after they had publicly announced a major initiative encouraging schools to band together to do cooperative purchasing.

The Super's Blog has learned through its top secret mole in the state house, that The Governor will soon issue Executive Order 06-01 which encourages schools to purchase commodities, natural gas and other supplies through cooperatives and hereby declares all such cooperative purchases to be made retroactive to 1981 when Indiana's Regional Service Centers were first created.

The mole said, "Don't tell anyone, but he just wants a little credit for it. It's not good for his conservative base to know that public schools have done this for years."

A spokesperson close to the Governor said, "This Governor doesn't need daylight savings time, he can change time itself."

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Governor's speech tonight

Here is what the pre-speech notifications indicate the Governor is going to say about education tonight:

Mitch says: Indiana continues to make a strong financial commitment to k-12 schools. Hoosiers spend 14% more of their income on K-12 schools than the US average.
(Maybe we should be proud of that instead of embarrassed Mitch. You'll likely say that like we should be ashamed. And guess what 60% of Hoosiers surveyed said they are willing to spend more taxes for education. Bet you don't say that tonight.)

Mitch says: K-12 spending was one of the only four areas to see an increase in the 2005-2006 state budget. The problem is where the money goes. (That's good as far as it goes. But many schools and students got less or the same while expenses rose. And as far as "where the money goes" not one patron here has ever told me that their local board's decision to renovate our facilities was a problem.)

Mitch says: School construction projects in 2003-2004 cost Indiana taxpayers 146% of the US average. Debt service on school construction is now 10% of property taxes bills, 3x the national average. (Paid for by local patrons with local money from decisions made by their locally elected representatives with a remonstrance process in place. Your point is...you want to control it instead? Mitch knows best. So much for your push to provide more local control! You're moving around Mitch. Your talking local control and consolidating central control at the same time. Some aren't buing it..)

Mitch says: Only 61% of school operating budgets go toward instruction and learning.
(And society says the perfect number is____? Maybe with the cost of gas, insurance and other operating expenses it should be 50%?)

Indiana ranks 50th in the percent of K-12 employees who are teachers.
(What's a "teacher?" We have numerous teacher "aide" positions teaching Reading Recovery and other positions. Many of them have teaching degrees and work directly with students. They aren't labeled "teachers." In this respect the "efficiency cult" should praise us for stretching our pennies. In other cases the increases in student performance are a result of "instructional coaches" who do not directly teach children but work directly with teachers. Again, performance gains for kids - but they aren't "teachers" in the traditional sense of the word. Makes the comparison muddy but makes a nice sound bite anyway. )

Mitch says: The solution is to increase the percent of funds spent on instruction and learning.
(Rob Peter to pay Paul.. )

Every 1% moved from overhead to instructional spending would free up $100 million for student learning. (It's amazing what you guys can call overhead. Are guidance counselors, nurses, bus drivers, teacher aides, and computer technicians really overhead ?)

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

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.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Hoosiers surveyed about education

From IU’s Center for Evaluation and Education Policy.

Some 65 percent of Indiana residents surveyed said the schools in their communities were excellent or good

72 percent rated teachers as good or excellent

62 percent of Hoosiers believe the state’s K-12 schools are underfunded

Almost 60 percent said they would pay higher taxes to make more money available to them – an increase of 11 percent over 2004.

And From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette "a glowing report about education."