Teacher Mark Sass argues that while simply throwing more money at education probably won’t improve schools, changing the way we spend education funds could. 

In what has to be one of the most inane analogies ever made, Bill Hudson of the Pagosa Daily Post, writes:

Call me wacky if you want, but when I consider the question, “Does more money lead to better schooling?” I find myself contemplating a weirdly different but possibly analogous question: 

”Does more alimony lead to a better ex-wife?” 
Two very different questions… but the same answer, perhaps.

Seriously?

Image of school desk atop a dollar bill.Hudson was writing about Senate Bill 213, the school funding legislation passed by the recent legislature. Hopefully, this is not a glimpse of the impending conversations and debates that will take place as supporters of the legislation put an initiative on the November ballot to fund the bill.

While Hudson’s analogy makes no sense, he does cite evidence in the column that the increase in spending on public education for the past thirty years has resulted in stagnant student achievement.  This is true.

But what gets overlooked in this evidence is that in the past thirty years, our expectations of public education has changed and so have the students. I have written before about this issue, and I won’t go into it more in this post. However, I would agree that just throwing more money at public education would not result in significant improvements in the achievement of our students. What has to change is the way in which we use public education funding.

These changes have been taking place in Colorado for the past few years. The educator effectiveness legislation has drastically altered how we evaluate teachers and principals; we now demand evidence from higher education institutions to show that their programs work (Educator Preparation Policy) and; we are also implementing major changes to our K-12 curriculum through the adaption of the Common Core.

In addition, SB-213 changes the allocation of student funding to recognize that some students need more resources than others. It changes the method by which student numbers are counted; from a once-a-year count to a quarterly count. Its most controversial change is that the legislation asks more affluent communities to shoulder the responsibility to raise additional funding locally. In short this bill is radically changing the way we spend public funds on education. (Here’s Ed News Colorado’s overview of SB-213) These changes make past comparisons to education spending mute.

There are five months until we see if the citizens of Colorado are willing to increase their commitment to public education. In the meantime let’s see if we can keep from comparing students to ex-wives.