"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Latest Grades on School Funding

Tennessee has been at or near the forefront of education reformers' thirty-year crusade to come up with a cheap and easily-measured scheme to gauge education productivity.  In 1992, Tennessee formalized its chosen "accountability" strategy by writing into state statute Bill Sanders' value-added algorithms, which the wizened tobacco-chewing agricultural statistician had sold to the State as a "good and cheap" way to convince taxpayers that schools, teachers, and students were being held accountable for the millions of pennies that state politicians were demanding for K-12 education.  

The incredible story of value-added modeling (VAM), first researched by Dr. Denise Wilburn, was a core part of The Mismeasure of Education, our historical survey of American educational malpractice in the 20th Century. 

In being focused solely on educational improvements that required the State to do nothing whatsoever about the vast structural inequity and inequalities that influence educational opportunity or lack thereof, Tennessee became the darling of the U.S. Dept. of Education when it came time to try out the latest miseducative reform thought disorder for bribing and extorting better school performance as measured by racist and classist standardized tests.  

As a result, Tennessee has come to depend upon a continuing stream of federal grants to keep the state's school doors open.  It is this diseased kind of symbiosis that led Sen. Marsha Blackburn to step forward and offer a new home for the U. S. Department of Education in Tennessee, if Republicans can finagle a way to dismantle federal departments and move them out of DC.

For the past few years, the Education Law Center in Newark, NJ has published research on state levels of education funding fairness.  Having done next to nothing over the past 30 years to establish state accountability for school finance, Tennessee, which has a student poverty rate of 19 percent, remains near the bottom in school funding.  

Below are two snapshots that illustrate the vast differences among states.  I highly recommend reading MAKING THE GRADE 2019: HOW FAIR IS SCHOOL FUNDING IN YOUR STATE?

See p. 4 for everything between "A" and "F."

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