According to media reports, the latest legislatively created state commission tasked with looking at public education funding in Georgia ... appears poised to follow the lead of previous panels in making recommendations that will do little or nothing to change the way state dollars are steered to local public schools.
A Morris News Service report indicated that the committee’s key proposals include:
• Restoring cuts in funding for school nurses.
• Increasing funding for textbooks, and including computers and other electronic equipment in those outlays.
• Increasing outlays to cover continuing education for teachers and principals, with some of it going to the state Department of Education to coordinate instruction on new curriculum and accountability measures.
• Ending a mandate that at least 65 percent of spending go to classroom instruction.
No matter what your view of public education — whether you think it’s an earnest but underfunded enterprise, or whether you think it’s a bloated bureaucracy — there’s little in these recommendations to show that the legislators, educators and businesspeople on the committee are taking a serious look at public education.
If you’re among those who’d just as soon see the public school system dismantled, you’ve got to be disheartened by recommendations calling for increased funding for DOE staff and ending a requirement that a majority of funding go to actual teaching.
If, on the other hand, you’re among those supporters of Georgia’s public schools who’d like to see this state make a serious attempt at boosting student achievement in bold new ways, seeing a recommendation for spending more on books and computers has to be at least somewhat disheartening, particularly when coupled with the realization that all of the recommendations for increased funding have to get through a Legislature that, in the ongoing economic doldrums, isn’t likely to increase any public school funding. ...
Maybe universal vouchers are a good idea; maybe they’re not. Maybe increased state funding for public schools is a good idea; maybe it’s not.
But it is those basic issues, and not the recommendations of another committee, that ought to be the framework for public — and legislative — discussions of the future of Georgia’s public schools.
— Online: www.onlineathens.com