3 October 2010
Not a Financial Crisis
The self-styled SD Planning Committee, formed to fight cuts to state funding of education, health care, and social services, has posted flyers that declare
We face not a financial crisis, but a crisis of priorities,I don't know why they end that with a comma, as it's followed by a sentence in which it cannot participate. In any case, it's a somewhat puffed-up way of saying that
Interesting concept, there, that there could be plenty of money in a budget, but that the money is not being well spent. They just might try applying that same concept to just those portions of the budget that are allocated to education, to health care, and to social services. Perhaps, even after cuts, there would be plenty of money, if only it were spent well. And perhaps even if funding to these programmes were increased to the greatest possible levels, it would be spent badly.
Okay, so there's no
perhaps to it; that's just how it would be.
On the other hand, I have to grimace when I hear or read of linking teacher pay to
I understand the desire to pay teachers based upon the quality of their teaching. And, outside of the teachers' unions, almost everyone understands that it's not a good thing to link teacher pay primarily (let alone directly) to years of service. But I'm pretty sure that real-world attempts to link teacher pay to ostensible measures of performance are going to increase
- disincentives for teachers to accept jobs working with less able students,
- incentives for teachers to teach to the tests by which student achievement is purportedly measured,
- student time tied-up in taking those d_mn'd tests, which themselves teach nothing to students beyond test-taking skills.
A profoundly different model of education is needed to get something that will work.
A part of that model would be to use markets to price teaching, recognizing (amongst other things) that different teaching contexts correspond to different markets.
Unfortunately, another part of that model is for parents to accept a significantly greater degree of responsibility for ensuring that their children are properly educated. The vast majority of parents seem willing to pass the buck to state-funded schools, regardless of their performance. It isn't sufficient to say
Hey, I sent my kid to school! The school dropped the ball, not me!