Wednesday, July 05, 2006

WSF, Part II: The Little Things

If you've never been to Airway Heights, Washington on the 4th of July, it's a hoot. They blow the town up, and it's every bit as good a show as you'll see in the cities.

This is a continued look at the new Fund the Child: Tackling Inequity & Antiquity in School Finance from the Fordham Foundation on Weighted Student Funding as a means to reform the school finance system. Yesterday I talked about the impact that it could have on teacher salaries and seniority; here's a round-up of some other items in the report that I thought interesting.

1. One of the principles of WSF is that you pay more for different kids; for example, an ELL/ESL/LEP kid could merit 125% of the money that a regular ed student would. A part of the report that I really like is the idea that they would weight gifted and talented students differently. A lot of the time funding for G&T ed is in the form of grants or percentages, but by attaching the dollar amount to the number of students you'd give districs a powerful incentive to 1) seek those kids out and 2) give them the service they deserve.

2. Low-SES kids would carry more money with them. The authors of the report argue that this would make those kids desirable, saying:
Under WSF, if weights are implemented properly, schools will have pwoerful incentives to serve more disadvantaged kids. Schools may begin to vie for these populations to gain increased funding, rather that shun them as is often the cases today. By rewarding schools for attracting more students (and especially more students with educational challenges), WSF can fundamentally change the way individual schools think about their "most attractive" students.
I can't see it. If under NCLB you're subject to being labeled a failing school and losing your job if you don't get all kids to pass their tests, and if the sanction for not getting them all there is losing your job, closing your school, becoming a charter, state takeover, whatever, then are you really going to be actively pursuing kids who could cost you your job? How much money would it take?

3. A function of WSF is that the principal should be able to make the heavy majority of the school-based decisions. They give an example of a school recruiting parents to do the landscaping, which seems like a bad idea to me. I can't imagine any principal putting a blurb in the school newsletter asking for someone to cut the grass. Could a principal, in order to save money, cut the lunch program and demand that all students brown-bag it? Make the teachers clean their own rooms?

4. One of the major supporters of WSF in the report is Rod Paige--he gets a two-page spread to talk more about the great things that happened in Houston. Here's the trick--the Texas Miracle was a complete sham. Paige oversaw a district built on lies, that cheated to make itself look better, and was the absolute opposite of what NCLB calls for. It's amazing to me that Paige is still able to hang on around education--I don't see how anyone could take a word he says seriously. He is our Barry Bonds. His name should forever be written as Paige*.

In short--if Paige is for it, that's a good reason to look closely at it and wonder if it's for real.


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5:05 AM  

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