(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)
I spent yesterday up in Prescott attending a meeting of the Classrooms First initiative, which is a panel put together by Governor Ducey to discuss school finance reform in Arizona. Arizona has both online learning programs and CTE programs that basically entail dividing the per pupil funding between a home school and an outside provider. As you might imagine, this gets messy.
On the digital side for instance schools and districts are not required to accept online courses by outside providers for credit. “How are we supposed to know whether the course was any good?” goes the refrain. Of course districts will happily accept online courses which they provided themselves- these of course have all of the necessary quality control and all. An outside observer however would struggle to discern that a district online course was any more effective than one provided by an outside provider.
So Arizona taxpayers foot the bill for all of this, and we have kids completing coursework but finding themselves denied credit for said coursework. Delightful.
CTE training has a different but related set of problems involving division of per student funding.
During this discussion it occurred to me that our state is about a third of the way through the birth process leading to an a la carte education for high school students.
Some people want our mom to stop pushing while we, er, figure things out or something. The contractions however will not agree to a pause. Lobbyist Jay Kaprosy noted that testing is moving in the direction of end of course exams, so we should consider moving the funding from the providers to the student to allow them to divvy it up among providers. A great many details would need working out to move to such a system and the Classrooms First council was understandably cautious (this topic is related but not central to their task) but my reaction: