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Triple Negative

May 9, 2013

This morning’s editorial in the Oklahoman hits three separate points. First is that “schools are getting a not-insignificant budget increase.” The second is that districts can fund legislated reforms but choose not to. Finally, in a completely unrelated comment, they insist that the recent testing glitches that caused over 9,000 tests to be invalidated across the state are no big deal.

  1. The claim that the budget increase is “not-insignificant” is false. Best case scenario, the increase will give districts about $70 more per pupil next year. With the revenue lost due to corporate tax breaks under SQ 766 last year, that amount will all be gone. Class sizes are increasing, and I don’t know about you, but I never heard a parent wish for bigger class sizes. More programs will be cut next year as shortfalls continue across Oklahoma. As Jason Midkiff wrote on Twitter today, “31 million RSA, 16 million testing comp, 50 million insurance, What’s left?”
  2. Districts have little choice here. While struggling to maintain a fund balance in order to operate without a deficit at the beginning of the school year, every available dollar has to be preserved. Money is available through the funding formula for instruction. However, by May, it is all spent. The argument supposes that districts have the latitude to cut something else and fund mandates such as RSA Summer School. That same argument could be applied to the SDE, which could cut something else to make funding available to schools. Unfortunately, budgets are tight all the way around, and choices have to be made.
  3. Read this article. Not only did CTB/McGraw-Hill botch thousands of online tests; they have failed to provide materials needed to make up exams in a timely manner. We’re really going to hold children, teachers, and schools accountable under these conditions?

As Tyler Bridges said in the same Twitter conversation, we wouldn’t want to confuse the conversation with facts, now would we?

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