Overhaul of Georgia’s school funding formula overdue and necessary to drive improvements

Gov. Nathan Deal’s Education Reform Commission meets this afternoon to finalize recommendations, including how to fund Georgia Schools.

Patricia Levesque, the CEO of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, an education organization founded by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, discusses the commission’s proposal on funding.

To read another view on the proposed changes, go here.

By Patricia Levesque

In the mid-1980s, Georgia tackled the tough task of enacting a new school funding formula to bridge the gaping chasm between the haves and have-nots among school districts. It represented a bold reform at that time, bringing much-needed new resources to the have-nots.

Those changes met the needs of the 1980s – but there hasn’t been a major update since. Now, 30 years later, we need another dose of visionary change to address the realities of today’s modern classrooms. The student-based reforms put forward by Gov. Nathan Deal’s Education Reform Commission would deliver just that.

We would never limit ourselves to the knowledge, progress and technology of the 1980s. We’ve upgraded from landlines to mobile phones, from VCRs to DVRs, from Commodore 64s to touchscreen tablets. In 1986, Americans would have thought the World Wide Web sounded like an alien spider attack, not a global communications tool that touches nearly aspect of our lives.

Consider this: One of the largest states in the nation now uses a pre-Internet approach to paying for education. Georgia’s school financing system was not built with the flexibility needed to support the wave of educational innovations spreading across the nation, nor with the incentives needed to drive improved student outcomes.

The Foundation for Excellence in Education last month polled Georgians about their views on K-12 funding. We found that nearly half think the more than $9,000 the state spends per child in K-12 education is “about right,” while a third said the state should spend more. But when they had to choose between reform and simply spending more, Georgians favored reforming the funding model by a 67 to 25 percent margin.

Tellingly, at least 10 other states are already achieving better results for their students with the same amount or even fewer dollars per student – including neighbors like Florida, North Carolina and Tennessee.­

The new student-based funding approach recommended by Gov. Deal’s Commission provides a guidebook for how Georgia can upgrade its strategic investments in students. The new formula replaces an indecipherable, rigid and outdated system with one that is transparent, flexible and efficient.

Patricia Levesque is the CEO of the Foundation for Excellence in Education

Patricia Levesque is the CEO of the Foundation for Excellence in Education.

The current formula, called Quality Basic Education, is school- or program-based, meaning funding follows programs, classes or staff positions – not students. This makes it difficult to know if students are truly getting the services they need for academic success.

Under the proposed formula, districts would receive a base funding amount for all students, with additional funds provided for students who require more educational services than others to be successful, such as disabled or economically disadvantaged students.

Georgians overwhelmingly support providing extra funding for students in need. For example, our poll showed that 77 percent favor extra funding for children living in poverty.

In addition, the new formula would empower schools to spend their funding in ways that best fit the needs of their students, a change that 80 percent of Georgians support. For instance, a school might offer better salaries to its highest performing teachers, who could agree to take on additional responsibilities. A teacher might decide to work with more students, but bring in new technologies to help personalize their instruction – hardware and software that could be funded under the new formula.

Lastly, it is more transparent. The new, simple formula allows taxpayers to clearly see how much money is allocated per student and why. That’s something 89 percent of Georgians favor.

These steps will upgrade Georgia’s educational system, but bringing Georgia’s funding formula into the 21st century is not the ultimate goal.  What really matters is that doing so will help schools deliver better results for students – and this is just the start.  Our goal is an education system that equips every Georgia student for success.

 

Reader Comments 0

13 comments
Blasingame
Blasingame

I haven't kept up with this proposed program so I cannot speak to it.  However, what we have right now that passes for education is so ridiculously, woefully inadequate, we need to do something.  The Department of Education and subsequent complete politicization of education has, while creating many mindless controllable fascist Democrats,further reduced this country's standing in education in the world.  Internationally, we are a laughingstock - deservedly so.  It's getting to the point where only the Islamic countries lag behind us in education.  Our kids are being indoctrinated,not educated.  They are quite ignorant; but, hey, there is an upside.  As long as they're stupid, they will probably keep voting for Democrats.

FlaTony
FlaTony

Maureen - in the interest of granting opposing views, you are not obligated to publish pieces that are entirely fictional. There is almost nothing in this post that is accurate. It is filled with hyperbole, inappropriate comparisons, and outright lies.

Falcaints
Falcaints

Some districts will spend it at the Central office level, not the school level.

sneakpeakintoeducation
sneakpeakintoeducation

Beware of those selling the snake oil!!


Check out this link to show the money trail and education reformers. Their goal; to show that our public education system is failing, push for the reforms to help fix them and, in turn, make them very rich. 


http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2014/12/06/jeb-bush-s-education-reform-empire/


Here is another story in which Patricia offered to help write legislation to get virtual schools in Maine while, at the same time, lining her pockets. 


http://www.pressherald.com/2012/09/01/virtual-schools-in-maine_2012-09-02/




dg417s
dg417s

Florida is hardly the model for public education that should be followed and teachers are fleeing North Carolina in droves due to lousy public education policy and funding in that state. Really? This is who you want to compare us to? 

dg417s
dg417s

P.S., I'm not saying that changes aren't warranted, but just consider we haven't funded the formula we have now in over a decade - even when times were good. Fran Millar basically told educators to get used to the new norm. I am disappointed that someone who swore to uphold the Constitutions of the United States and the State of Georgia would short change a state constitutionally protected mandate - public education.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

In an email to Chiefs for Change members on Feb. 23 last year, for example, the foundation's chief executive officer, Patricia Levesque, touted the "beauty" of SendHub, a mobile messaging service that she said would allow teachers to connect more easily with students and parents.


But In the Public Interest says that subsequent reports have revealed that Mr. Bush was an investor in SendHub at some point last year, showing that the email could have directly and improperly benefited Mr. Bush personally. (A spokesman for the foundation, Jaryn Emhof, confirmed that Mr. Bush was an early investor in SendHub.)


http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2013/02/20/21lobbying.h32.html

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

"One of the largest states in the nation now uses a pre-Internet approach to paying for education."

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I find it telling that the above sentence was written into this article.  I am suspicious of the intent of this reform by the Reform Committee established by the Governor.

sneakpeakintoeducation
sneakpeakintoeducation

And yet we know that the foundation she represents is all about privatization of our schools and the failed policies of Jeb Bush. 

WWTJD
WWTJD

Your method for determining the proper amount of funds required to educate a student is so simple, so understandable!  Now, I think $130 a month for internet and cable service is too much.  The majority of Georgians agree with me.  That means Comcast will decrease my bill, right?


Come back when you produce reliable data to support your conclusions.