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Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014

Spending more isn't always the solution

Friday, October 10, 2003

A new report is out this week that calls for spending additional hundreds of millions of dollars in public education in Missouri to meet state and federal achievement guidelines. That conclusion should come as no surprise since government at all levels believes that more money is the solution to all problems. My how they are wrong.

For starters, we need to scrap the foolish notion outlined in the No Child Left Behind federal mandate. Most school districts with a diverse student population will never reach the lofty levels outlined in this well-intentioned but unattainable goal. Sometimes in our society we fail for lack of trying. Other times we fail because our goals are unrealistic. These new guidelines fall squarely into the latter category.

I think the authors of this latest study used a dumb yardstick to draw their conclusions. The study examined the highest performing school districts in Missouri and used those schools as a funding base for all schools. Whatever these top schools spent on student education, according to the study, should be the basis for funding for all school districts. That's like saying the New York Times has better news coverage that the Standard Democrat therefore, our newspaper should spend equal funds on our newsroom as the New York Times. That is a flawed basis from the beginning.

What matters here has less to do with spending than it does with the preparation and attitude toward education instilled by the parents to their students. Top performing schools always have a strong parent base of support and the students enter the school system anxious to learn and prepared each day. That can not be said of every district. And money won't change that.

If you look at the test scores recently released for all Missouri schools you'll clearly see precisely where the school district fail in terms of the No Child Left Behind legislation. Those students who have involvement from their homes will succeed. Those students who come to school unprepared because there is no emphasis on education in their home will fail. The numbers are clear on that count.

Why do certain groups of students consistently and historically fail to reach minimum achievement levels? Well don't look at a failure of the school system or a lack of teacher involvement or a higher than ideal student-teacher ratio. Look at the preparation and support from their home environment. Therein lies both the problem and the solution.

Education officials at all levels recognize the problem. But instead of honesty, we get recommendations for more taxpayer spending. Surely by now we should have learned that throwing money at every problem is not the solution.



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