Funding Public Education
About one-half of our counties’ budgets and at least half of our state’s general fund budget is appropriated for education in public schools, community colleges and universities.
The purpose of these appropriations is, “To graduate good citizens with the skills needed in the marketplace and the ability to enjoy life.” The revenue that supports these appropriations comes from the middle part of that purpose (mission) statement-the skills needed in the marketplace.
In a market economy, people trade their skills for money and the marketplace determines how valuable those skills are. The more valuable their skills, the more money people earn. Put another way, people trade their time for money. Put in an absolute way, in a market economy, people trade their lives for money.
In North Carolina, we fund public schools, community colleges and universities that are intended to enable students to learn the skills that are needed in the marketplace. We want each graduate to be able to sell their valuable, highly skilled time for the highest dollar. In other words, we want our citizens to be able to perform at their highest level in the marketplace. WHY? From the budget’s perspective, higher skills in North Carolina increase revenue for the general fund.
One problem with our systems of public education is: How to determine if students are graduated with the skills needed in the marketplace?
Usually, this problem is referred to as, “Accountability.” For decades, accountability has been addressed in many ways and all have fallen short. Most of our past efforts at achieving accountability have hindered educational efforts at every level and have only caused confusion and malaise. In economic terms, there is a reason for this. Contemporary attempts at accountability address micro issues, and accountability is a macro problem. To believe that a teacher’s grades, a building’s scores, a LEA’s performance or a campus ranking measures accountability or places responsibility or leads to improvement is folly! North Carolina’s public education systems are too big, to widespread, too diverse for any micro effort at accountability to succeed. There are too many ways to shift blame, to manipulate data, to inject confusion, for any micro test to measure performance with confidence. If you continue to ask the wrong questions, you will continue to get the wrong answers.
What is required is an elegant way to determine if our public schools, community colleges and universities are graduating students with the skills needed in the marketplace. E=mc2 was an elegant solution to a macro problem. E=mc2 is an equation and the macro problem of accountability demands an equation. On one side there must be a way to determine accountability and on the other side a way to allocate educational appropriations. Here is an equation that is easy to understand, applies to all public systems of education, conforms to legislative intent, obstructs executive branch interference, joins educators in all systems and can help improve our state. This equation can easily be expressed in an amendment to our state constitution.
Ea refers to total education appropriations; GF refers to the state’s general fund budget which is divided by 2 (in half). This equation reflects current appropriations and accurately measures performance in the marketplace. This equation measures the combined performance of all public systems of education. It has the potential to encourage improved educational outcomes.
LET THE DEBATE BEGIN.
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