When we talk dollars and cents in public education, there are a few truisms: teachers are paid too little, schools are underfunded, private and charter schools “drain” funds from traditional districts, and when schools can’t make ends meet it is the result of things done to them and never stuff they do.
The public buys that story and many in the education industry eager to supply endless examples to multiply the trope. Those of us saying school spending is at least equal to school funding as an issue are forced to wear t-shirts that say “I am the day after Christmas.”
If raising concerns about lax controls on public spending makes me December 26th, I’m okay with it.
There are two ways to say we need more money in education. The first is to demand taxpayers give more, and the second is to require elected officials to stop squandering what they already get.
Almost everyone has the former covered, but the latter gets crickets.
I’ve blogged and Tweeted, and begged and pleaded, about the repeating instances of poor stewardship of public dollars. I’ve talked about the millions of public dollars misspent for unneeded technology; a $72 million high school football stadium; the $152 million bill New York pays for teachers that don’t teach; the $300 million Los Angeles Unified School District paid out in sex abuse settlements; the school board that signed an irresponsible decade-long teachers’ contract with 4% raises locked in; the high school rebuild that started at $30 million for a 1,600 seat school but ballooned to $250 million due to poor planning and limp oversight; or the school district under scrutiny for waste and “cronyism” in its $300 million bonding program.