Friday, May 27, 2005

Education Showdown

Here in Wake County we are facing the classic and oft-repeated showdown of a school board that claims they need $X or they will have to cut classroom programs. Education bureaucrats in this situation always trot out the classroom cuts first in order to get the attention of parents and put some pressure on those who must allocate the money (in this case the Wake County Commissioners as all of Wake County is in one school district).

The timing of these demands by the school board is not the greatest as they are currently under investigation for fraud and kickbacks in their transportation department (which I think the N&O has done a decent job reporting).

Where the N&O has fallen down on the job is in not reporting how much school costs have increased due to the student reassignment policies of the school board. The N&O has endorsed those on the school board who favor moving kids around like chess pieces to try to achieve various socioeconomic and performance goals, so I doubt if they will look at the impact on costs.

I also doubt if they will dig too far into another impact of a poorly-run school board. In Wake County in the last ten years we have gone from around 90% of students attending public schools to around 80%. Every time school policies and performance force parents into the private school system, the public school system has a harder time getting parental support when they need more money. The N&O will paint this as only a problem with "elites," but the real impacts are now being felt.