Friday, February 3, 2006

65% = Failure

In most classrooms, 65% is a failing grade, and that is exactly the grade Governor Perdue deserves for his cookie-cutter, politically timely proposal that school districts spend a minimum of 65% of all revenue on “classroom instruction.” This is the same governor who has cut over a billion dollars from education funding while bestowing a billion dollars in tax breaks to corporations, so when he adopts a sound-bite-ready proposal steeped in election year rhetoric, we have a reason to be skeptical. Hatched from a partisan think-tank and designed to shore-up republican credibility on education, this initiative is long on political strategy and short on the details that would make implementation beneficial for our children.
Governor Perdue guts local control by insisting that the state control 65% of all the funds school districts spend, while providing only about 40% of the total revenue. His failure to include critical services like transportation and nutrition will particularly penalize low-wealth school districts where poverty is high and more dollars must be allocated for getting students to the classroom and feeding them once they arrive. The priorities reflected in including coaches but excluding librarians, counselors and school nurses are emblematic of the kind of thinking that keeps Georgia near the bottom of the educational heap.
If the goal is to facilitate quality public education, this legislation falls far short and should be rejected. 65% is not nearly enough for Georgia’s children. We must make a 100% commitment to excellence in our children’s schools.

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