Education, Rick Snyder — February 8, 2012 at 1:42 pm

Snyder to reward successful schools, punish those who don’t “progress”


Penalizing struggling schools solves what exactly?

The Detroit Free Press has an article in today’s edition titled “Rick Snyder’s push to tie school funding to performance still needs a scale”. They quote Governor Rick Snyder from last April:

“In my 2013 budget message, I will be proposing that school districts receive a bonus beyond the per-pupil state foundation allowance for demonstrating student growth in reading, math and other … selected subjects,” Snyder said.

“By rewarding growth, and not only proficiency, students who have fallen behind their grade level are not forgotten. Instead, they are viewed as having the most to gain.”

While the article doesn’t have a new information in it, it raises a question many have been asking for some time. Namely, how can schools, particularly struggling schools, be expected to “progress” when their funding is cut as Republicans did last year? Schools that are already doing relatively well are going to be far more capable of showing “progress”, however it is defined, than those that are literally struggling to pay their teachers, purchase supplies and keep the lights on in their buildings.

The Michigan Education Association has weighed in:

The Michigan Education Association, a union representing more than 157,000 teachers and other education workers, says Snyder’s approach won’t work.

“That’s fundamentally penalizing and not providing resources to schools that are struggling,” said Doug Pratt, a spokesman for the association.

This response to solving the problems in our school system is exactly what you would expect from a “CEO Governor”. Every problem looks like a resource allocation issue where you allocate resources to enhance your balance sheet, investing money where there is the biggest return.

What this approach ignores is that governments are decidedly NOT like businesses. They don’t exist to maximize profits or to increase shareholder wealth. In fact, they exist to benefit the citizens of the entire state, not just those that are doing the best.

A reward-the-fortunate, punish-the-struggling approach only widens the gap between our successful schools and our failing schools. Unfortunately, this businessman and his Republican colleagues don’t think that way.

[H/T Eclectablog reader Amy H.]