The DeHavilland Blog

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

A new angle on the stimulus

An article in today's edition of USA Today highlights an interesting and under-reported (and under-discusssed) aspect of the stimulus funds flowing into education: what happens if we spend $100 billion and nothing happens? What if we see no real change in terms of student performance, school/district operations, or enterprise sustainability?

A few observers say they're concerned that a two-year span is not — and has never been — enough time to generate big gains. By 2011, they say, critics of greater education spending will undoubtedly cite the dearth of results to push for less education spending — perhaps even an end to federal funding.

"If you were trying to set the system up to look bad, one good way to do it is to throw an awful lot of money at it — money it can't possibly absorb in two years — and then expect that you're going to see changes in student achievement," says David Shreve of the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Could the very thing that Duncan hopes will push public education into the 21st century set it back decades?

I think this is a valid point - even though most of the money is oriented towards stabilization (ie, saving teacher jobs), systems will be responsible for having made a significant impact on student performance in order to justify future funding - and two years isn't much time at all to make that happen.

Of course, I'll still argue that at least some portion of those funds should be invested in building a sustainable model - cutting costs, finding efficiencies, and building new sources of revenue. Let's hope that some superintendents agree - we'll find out at this event...


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