Monday, August 14, 2006

The 70% shell game won't help schools

Rep. Mark Green proposed his school funding gimmick plan today, "The 70% Solution", requiring 70% of all money spent on public schools to be spent in the classroom.

Revolutionary, huh? Or does it sound a lot like the 65% solution proposed in April, near the end of the legislative session, by a couple of Republican State Senators?

It's a plan that's being pushed by right-wingers around the country.

The National PTA calls it a shell game.

Here's what the Center for American Progress says:
A handful of conservatives have embraced a plan that undermines America's schools and are selling the plan as a silver bullet to the problems faced by those schools. The plan, dubbed the 65 Percent Solution, is the brainchild of Utah businessman Patrick M. Byrne, president and chairman of, Inc. It requires school districts to reallocate existing funds so that at least 65 percent of their educational budget is spent on classroom instruction...

... Frederick M. Hess of the American Enterprise Institute points out, "If a 'corporate reformer' acquired Wal-Mart and decreed that 65 percent of all revenues be spent on floor staff and in-store improvements, Wall Street would greet him with derision. There is nothing innately wrong with such moves -- but well-managed firms know that one-size-fits-all management went out with lava lamps and leisure suits."

... With a system of standards-based education and accountability, local leaders should have the flexibility to allocate funds wherever needed to ensure gains in all students' academic performance. The 65 Percent Solution simplistically focuses on financial inputs rather than learning outcomes by limiting local control over how education dollars are spent...

In addition to doing nothing to improve academic achievement, the 65 Percent Solution's narrow definition of classroom instruction actually hurts students and schools. Classroom instruction as defined in the plan includes teacher salaries, general instruction supplies, instructional aides and activities such as field trips, athletics, music and arts. It does not include, however, building maintenance, school lunches, transportation, heat, nurses, counselors, libraries and librarians, computer labs, teacher professional development, speech therapists, or school security. Under the 65 Percent Solution, these important resources have to compete for 35 percent of already scarce funds...

Teacher professional development, library and school nursing programs are not the only ones that suffer under the 65 Percent Solution. Resources for school safety, transportation, building maintenance, and school lunches are also among the many programs that would have to be eliminated or significantly reduced because the 35 percent of school budgets allotted to "outside the classroom expenses" would not be sufficient to adequately fund all of them.
Meanwhile, and more importantly, Mark Green has refused to commit himself to continuing the two-thirds state support for public schools, while promising to reduce state taxes. Green's unwillingness to make that commitment could cost public schools hundreds of millions of dollars. Last year, Republicans in the legislature tried to cut $350-million from Wisconsin public schools, but a creative use of the veto by Gov. Jim Doyle restored the money.

The 70% Non-Solution, which Green claims would put another $300-million into the classrooms, looks very much like a way to cover up the fact that he wants to cut $300-million or more in state aid.

Let's see if the news media let him get away with that shell game. Wanna bet?

UPDATE: One Wisconsin Now asks: Are choice schools covered?

UPDATE 2: The Doyle campaign says Green's budget and education plans are a double-barreled assault on Wisconsin public schools.

Green wiggles and squirms, but tells the Eau Claire newspaper he can't commit to two-thirds funding.

The AP commits what Charlie Sykes would call a flagrant act of journalism and reports that Green's plan "has been lambasted nationally by the PTA and others as being ill-conceived and bad for schools."


At 11:31 AM, Blogger Interloper said...

Standard & Poor's also conducted an analysis that showed that the 65% or 70% Solution bears absolutely no relationship with student achievement.

If you want to impact student learning and school improvement, you have to invest in teacher quality and school leadership--not in some simple-minded bureaucratic law.

Green's brain-dead, off-the-shelf, copy-cat proposal would also penalize Wisconsin's rural schools who must spend a much larger percentage of their budget on transporting kids to school on 40-mile bus routes. And it doesn't account for wide disparities in teacher salaries from Milwaukee's suburbs to northern Wisconsin. The haves that pay higher salaries and have more veteran teachers will have an easier time clearing this hurdle than the have-nots--exactly the opposite of what a policy should do. The state should be helping urban and rural schools attract & retain higher quality educators--not penalizing them further for not being able to.

More info:
And more from the Right:

At 4:47 PM, Blogger TrueConservative said...

Extreme Green strikes again! He better get new advisors if he hopes to have any chance of beating Doyle. Its kind of late in the game for new advisors so I guess Green will ride these broken down corrupt war horses (that we call his advisors) to the finish line. If he wins with this shallow of thinking, then God save us all.

At 9:12 PM, Blogger XOut said...


It's hardly extreme to focus on investments in the classroom.

Part of this process means cleaning up the med-arb law to help districts create merit-based wages and to get employees to pick up part of their health insurance.

Not to mention an overhaul of DPI mandates to reduce administrative overhead.

It's okay when the dimwit liberals don't get it but someone who wants to call themselves a true conservative ought to be a bit brighter than these other twits.

At 11:26 PM, Blogger Interloper said...


Then let's talk about reforms to teacher comp and reducing ineffective mandates. Gov. Doyle has proposed exploring alternative teacher pay models. Let's not follow Mark Green in proposing a brain-dead, off-the-shelf, non-Wisconsin policy 'solution' that will penalize schools with greater challenges than others--attracting & retaining teachers, busing kids much greater distances, teaching greater numbers of disadvantaged students--and seizing control from local superintendents and school boards.

At 7:58 AM, Blogger TrueConservative said...


Kooky proposals like this one from Green is not part of a good fiscal conservative policy. Green should be specific in his cuts and not rely on some formula that, as proposed by Green to 70%, is in conflict with the 65% proponents propose nationwide. Green pulled 70% out of the air versus the 65% that is proposed nationally in order to come up with bigger numbers for his press release. I get a kick out of the part of Green's proposal that equates athletics with classroom instruction and at the same time suggests we should cut funding for transporting the kids to school, heating or lighting the school when they arrive, or maintaining facility. Green Extreme Strikes AGAIN!!


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