Friday, January 06, 2006

Education: 65% Solution and School Libraries

One of the good things about living in Texas is that the state legislature by law can only meet for 140 days in odd numbered years. Everytime those folks get together there is another mess to clean up.

This past year the legislature could not decide which business lobby and special interest group to offend (the contributions to their re-election campaigns must have been pretty even) so they punted the issue of school finance down the field despite special sessions and much public handwringing. Governor Rick Perry then manfully issued an executive order requiring the Texas Education Agency to set about implementing a 65% solution band-aid. This would mandate that school districts spend at least 65% of their revenue on "direct classroom instruction."
Ahh...but what constitutes classroom instruction boys and girls?

As Rick Casey perfectly summarizes in today's Houston Chronicle, "Gov. Perry's 65 percent delusion," (read the whole thing)
As of now, the salaries of football coaches are in.

The salaries of school librarians are out.

Good thing we have our priorities in proper order.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, library costs are classified as "supplemental services." Hmmm...

Librarians and libraries serve and teach EVERY SINGLE student in a school. How many people fit into the football team's locker room??

Unlike classroom teachers who change annually as a student progresses, a librarian is with a student for as long as he/she is at the school. We get to know their interests, their highs and woes. A great many of us have an uncanny ability to put the right book at the right time into a child's hands and make them a lifelong reader.

Librarians instruct students in online safety and good searching techniques. As kids spend more and more time online, it is interesting to realize this kind of education is considered "supplemental."

At its very core, this rule pits educators against each other. We are fighting among ourselves for money. School nurses are a vital part of student safety but under this provision, they too are considered "supplemental" and will have to fight it out with counselors, janitors and the school bus fuel budget for funding.

Here in Texas our school districts are INDEPENDENT, as in Houston INDEPENDENT School District, Katy INDEPENDENT School District, and Dallas INDEPENDENT School District. If I do not like the way my school board is spending my tax money I can sign up to talk to them at a board meeting, protest outside the administration building or organize and vote them out of office.

Our LOCALLY elected school boards should decide how to fund our programs not state pooh-bahs. To have The State decree "one-size-fits-all" funding is offensive. I thought "conservatives" were about less "big government." Guess that is true until the power is in their hands.

This is not just a Texas issue. The 65% nonsense is being trotted out all over the U.S.

Here in Texas, if you care about this at all, please contact Governor Perry, Commissioner of Education, Shirley Neely, and your state reps. I am also going to contact my LOCAL school board because if this thing flies, they have to know I expect them to cut the football budget before they cut libraries.

Addresses and background information is here:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The spending on football in Texas is out of control.

Head coaches making $100,000+, 20+ coaches on staff that never see a classroom, kids decked out in new helmets, cleats, pads and high dollar uniforms, multimillion dollar stadiums with expensive weight rooms, locker rooms that ooze money and scoreboards that cost millions of dollars.

No money for books?
No money for classroom teacher raises?

Why is the best "student:teacher" ratio in the offensive backfield?

Why lavish massive dollars on each football player to play ~12 games a year - but deny basic resources to classroom students 5 days a week?

The Texas education system has *PLENTY* of money - they just spend too much of it on football.

And please don't anyone try to say Texas high school football pays for itself ... you'd have to use Enron accounting to justify that.

You are right that the 65% rule pits educators against each other - clean up your ridiculous spending on football.

It's going to take the liberals and Teachers Unions to solve this - it has to be "fixed from within".

Not one more dime of tax money should be given to the schools until we tax payers see the out of control football spending stop.

PS -

The 65% in the classroom is not the issue - the issue is counting football in that 65%.

For those of you who read this far - do you know that a person cannot volunteer to help coach? Once again, the schools have plenty of money if they won't accept a volunteers time to help kids with an after school sports program.