Thursday, January 18, 2007

Wanted: Rich Uncle

Yesterday I listened to Governor Tim Pawlenty give his annual State of the State speech for the State of Minnesota so today's newspaper coverage of this speech caught my attention given the Pioneer Press's headline --

"Money for Schools, strings attached"

Now this is clear media bias! I have to believe that most readers would view this headline as having a negative connotation wouldn't you? Based on a pie chart graphic I received from the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties for the 2006 elections I would note that just over 50% of the State of Minnesota's general budget goes to the K-12 education system today. I just have to ask -- how much is enough for the "children" in our education system? Perhaps we should give the schools 80 or even 90% of the state budget?

I realize it happens more than I want to admit but how many parents simply give money to their children when one of them says, "hey mom, give me $20.00..........." without asking something like, "so what do you plan to do with this $20 if I give it to you?"

Governor Pawlenty's speech noted that he is "willing to spend hundreds of millions of ADDITIONAL dollars on education over the next two years, but only if schools reform and meet performance standards." I agree with the Governor and most parents I know -- we aren't giving out more money without some performance expectations. One expectation the governor has is that students need to complete one year of college level courses while in high school for the school to be certified a "3R" school thereby qualifying for more funding.

Personally I would focus on increasing school choice, returning tax dollars to parents to spend on education options (such as hiring a private tutor for their child), and allowing school districts to compete with each other by giving them the autonomy to set their own school year calendar and perhaps to designate themselves as "English only curriculum" schools so they can standardize classes and save money.

The state government should not be viewed as a rich uncle handing out cash.


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