Bustin’ Makes Butcher Feel Good

ghostbusters butcher

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

So if the above picture looks like a sloppy attempt at photo editing by someone goofing around with a program for the first time, it is only because it is in fact just such an attempt.

So Arizona voters passed an initiative long ago that provided for inflation adjustments to K-12 spending. During the bubble years spending went up faster than inflation, but during the catastrophic collapse of the economy it went down less. The AZ school district non-profit industrial complex eventually sued to get the funding restored, and they recently won, sticking lawmakers with a $317,000,000 bill. Arizona is broke and unlikely to find that sort of change in the sofa, and requires a 2/3 vote of each chamber to raise taxes. So, what happens next?

The Goldwater Institute’s Jonathan Butcher went to the pages of the Arizona Republic to suggest a couple of ways to recoup the money. First- stop funding ghost students. Districts get paid on last year’s student count, charter schools on this year’s count. Ergo every time a child transfers from a district to a charter school the state pays for them twice for a year. This is a pure waste of money that will continue to grow with Arizona’s charter school sector. Butcher estimates this could gain the state $125m of the needed $317m. If I were Arizona’s higher education community I would jump on the Ghostbuster bandwagon because otherwise that $125m is likely to come out of higher education spending sooner rather than later.

Second Butcher proposes that some of the base funding for schools be conditioned on kids actually learning something. With half the high-schools in the state having 5% or less of the graduating Class of 2006 finish a Bachelor’s degree in six years, this sounds like a promising if tricky idea. ┬áThe taxpayers ought to be getting an ROI from Arizona public school spending dominated by student learning, not by mere babysitting.

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One Response to Bustin’ Makes Butcher Feel Good

  1. Greg Forster says:

    Cutting funds based on performance isn’t going to work if everyone knows the real impetus is to save money rather than improve performance. Political support won’t be there, because the army of angry parents would be aroused, and interest group jockeying will make it impossible to agree on a performance standard to make the cuts by. And if you did succeed, you’d turn a whole generation of civil rights activists in the state into permanent allies of the blob.

    Far better would be to privatize a non-instructional service like busing or food. Privatization would improve performance while saving money, and wouldn’t provoke the same army of angry parents.

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