Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The "65% Ruse" Is Not Only A Bad Idea, It Doesn't Work

Two premises you have to accept and must remember when reading today's article on the "65% Ruse". This has absolutely nothing to do with making public education better. Those who are proposing the "65% Ruse" do not believe in public education. This is nothing more than a scheme with a catchy name - like "supply-side economics" or "compassionate conservative" - to accelerate the destruction of our public schools and funded by the voucher crowd.

Here is the article in the Houston Chronicle today, Choosing sports over libraries is only one battle brewing under Gov. Perry's 65% spending directive:
The idea of freeing up billions of dollars for public education by requiring school districts to dedicate 65 percent of their budgets to the classroom sounds appealing.

Tax-conscious business leaders and voters across the country have embraced it as a way to more efficiently use existing funds to boost student test scores. Many school superintendents and teachers are opposed to the idea, saying it's nothing more than a gimmick that divides the education community.
Rich, business owners who already pay little or not taxes - that's what the current tax fight is about in case you forgot - want to pay the same or less taxes then they are now. As opposed to tax-unconscious business leaders? Voters across the country?
Tim Mooney, a spokesman for the group, said 65 percent spending mandates could be on the ballot in as many as 10 states this year.
Last time I checked there were 50 states, a little embellishment I'd say. They want to use funds, in what is in their opinion more efficiently, to boost test scores. Not improve education, boost test scores! If you want to know all about that just go check out this post, Taking on TAKS, over at Chris Bell's blog to see just how bad an idea that is.

A couple more interesting things about the "65% Ruse". First, it doesn't work:
As Texas education officials work to implement Gov. Rick Perry's directive that school districts use 65 percent of their funds in the classroom, a major study finds the spending target is not likely to raise student achievement.

Standard & Poor's analyzed data in Texas and eight other states considering instituting a 65 percent classroom spending requirement. It found no significant positive correlation between the percentage of funds that districts spend on instruction and the percentage of students who score proficient or higher on state reading and math tests.

"Interestingly, some of the highest-performing districts spend less than 65 percent, and some of the lowest-performing districts spend more than 65 percent. Student performance does not noticeably or consistently increase at 65 percent, or any other percentage spent on instruction," concluded the report.
Second, the Texas Education Commissioner former school district didn't comply with this and was top-rated when she was there:
Neeley's former school district, Galena Park, is an example of one that spent less than 65 percent in 2003 - the latest figures available from the Texas Education Agency -— but was top-rated at the time.

"The 65 percent rule is an arbitrary figure. That percentage has no meaning on how effective a school district is," said Mark Henry, current superintendent of Galena Park. "Some school districts have to spend more on social services and security and those items might not be figured into the 65 percent rule."
So why do this? The article does a good job of explaining why:
The idea of spending 65 percent in the classroom has been embraced by the business community and is gaining steam nationwide. It is being pushed by Patrick Byrne, the president of online retailer Overstock.com Inc. of Salt Lake City.

Byrne's money helped launch First Class Education, a nonprofit group that is spending millions of dollars to promote the issue through legislation and voter initiatives.


"We anticipate this will be a multi-million dollar campaign nationally and perhaps a multi-million campaign in most of these states," said Mooney.

He would not disclose any other donors of the group. Byrne also supports school vouchers, but Mooney said classroom spending is First Class Education's only issue.

Business groups often support educational reforms as a way to avoid higher taxes to pay for schools.
Like any right-wing plan it will make the rich, richer. That's why. How do you expect people that think government is evil to come up with a government fix for a problem? Pro-voucher, won't disclose donors. Why would someone not disclose who donates to them? Do those people or entities not want their names associated with this group? If this is such a great group and idea why wouldn't they? Exactly. To find out what the "65% Ruse" is all about and where it came from check out my initial post on this from last summer, Where Did The 65% Rule Come From?

Doesn't work and won't fix our current problems with quality education and underfunding but it sure has a catchy name. Sounds like trouble to me.


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