Why aren't they talking about funding?
With property taxes making up such a large percentage of K-12 funding, the current foreclosure situation and related deflation in housing values are resulting in signifanctly reduced revenues; the broader economic slowdown, coupled with greatly increased energy prices, will only exacerbate the problem. It could be years - even decades - before the housing market hits its previous highs, and by that time, other growing expenditures, such as Medicare and Social Security, will be demanding an ever-larger piece of the pie.
For schools that want to supplement resources with foundation and nonprofit support, the news isn't much better.
According to the Center on Philanthropy, giving declines 2% in bad economic times, with education and the arts taking the biggest hit. And then there's this from USA Today:
Foundations and non-profit groups that invest in the stock market are getting battered by recent Wall Street volatility.
Hardest hit are community groups that rely on both endowments and donations, which are also expected to decline, says Sigurd Nilsen, director of policy research for the Council on Foundations. The council represents about 2,200 grant-making foundations.
In a survey the council released in May, 52% of the community foundations that responded said they plan to distribute less grant money next year because of the economic downturn. Nilsen says the results still apply.
I've been posting more on this situation than any other lately; it's not that it's the only issue worth discussing in education (though it is important to the partnership initiatives I work with). The reason I keep hammering on it is because it seems that no one else is. If you go look at the debate around just about any issue in education today - teacher compensation, rigor, student performance, or anything else - you won't find anyone acknowledging the current and future changes in the funding landscape, and how they affect what's possible and what's prudent.
Hopefully people will start incorporating this issue into their work; great plans with no funding are less than helpful at a time of real needs.
Update: And just how bad is it out there? Here's the district situation in Dallas and the statewide situation in Hawaii and Florida...