A new report from the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center argues that Ed Reform falls short of its goals in adequately funding education and remedying inequality in state education spending. (Includes an interactive tool to see how your district is doing.)
Sunday, November 27, 2011
The Education Reform Act of 1993 dramatically overhauled the formula for providing state education aid to the Commonwealth’s K-12 school districts, in large part by creating the state’s foundation budget, a calculation of adequate baseline spending amounts for every district individually. The foundation budget has been in place for almost two decades now, and it has not yet been comprehensively reexamined. This paper contributes to the growing statewide conversation about the foundation budget’s present adequacy by identifying major gaps between what the foundation budget says districts need for certain cost categories in Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 and what districts are actually spending. We gather this data for each of the state’s 328 operating districts, allowing us to analyze trends for different types of districts, especially for districts of varying wealth. Key findings of this paper include:
- Foundation understates core SPED costs by about $1.0 billion
- Foundation understates health insurance costs by $1.1 billion
- Districts have not implemented the low-income student program envisioned in the original foundation budget
- Most districts hire fewer regular education teachers than the foundation budget sets as an adequate baseline
- Inflation adjustments have not been fully implemented, causing foundation to lag behind true cost growth…
by Martin Hart-Landsberg, 1 day ago at 12:50 pm
Cross-posted at Reports from the Economic Front.
Congress has finally agreed on a deficit reduction plan that President Obama supports. As a result, the debt ceiling is being lifted, which means that the Treasury can once again borrow to meet its financial obligations.
Avoiding a debt default is a good thing. However, the agreement is bad and even more importantly the debate itself has reinforced understandings of our economy that are destructive of majority interests.
The media presented the deficit reduction negotiations as a battle between two opposing sides. President Obama, who wanted to achieve deficit reduction through a combination of public spending cuts and tax increases, anchored one side. The House Republicans, who would only accept spending cuts, anchored the other. We were encouraged to cheer for the side that we thought best represented our interests.
Unfortunately, there was actually little difference between the two sides in terms of the way they engaged and debated the relevant issues. Both sides agreed that we face a major debt crisis. Both sides agreed that out-of-control social programs are the main driver of our deficit and debt problems. And both sides agreed that the less government involvement in the economy the better.
The unanimity is especially striking since all three positions are wrong. We do not face a major debt crisis, social spending is not driving our deficits and debt, and we need more active government intervention in the economy, not less, to solve our economic problems. [emphasis in original]
Portugal’s government has just fallen in a dispute over austerity proposals. Irish bond yields have topped 10 percent for the first time. And the British government has just marked its economic forecast down and its deficit forecast up.
What do these events have in common? They’re all evidence that slashing spending in the face of high unemployment is a mistake. Austerity advocates predicted that spending cuts would bring quick dividends in the form of rising confidence, and that there would be few, if any, adverse effects on growth and jobs; but they were wrong.
It’s too bad, then, that these days you’re not considered serious in Washington unless you profess allegiance to the same doctrine that’s failing so dismally in Europe.
Why not slash deficits immediately? Because tax increases and cuts in government spending would depress economies further, worsening unemployment. And cutting spending in a deeply depressed economy is largely self-defeating even in purely fiscal terms: any savings achieved at the front end are partly offset by lower revenue, as the economy shrinks.
A serious fiscal plan for America would address the long-run drivers of spending, above all health care costs, and it would almost certainly include some kind of tax increase. But we’re not serious: any talk of using Medicare funds effectively is met with shrieks of “death panels,” and the official G.O.P. position — barely challenged by Democrats — appears to be that nobody should ever pay higher taxes. Instead, all the talk is about short-run spending cuts.
In short, we have a political climate in which self-styled deficit hawks want to punish the unemployed even as they oppose any action that would address our long-run budget problems. And here’s what we know from experience abroad: The confidence fairy won’t save us from the consequences of our folly.
Paul Krugman “The Austerity Delusion” - NYTimes.com 3/24/11
I’ll read Kruggie, paywall or no.
It’s clear where our societal priorities lie. Click through to the article to weep at which states spend as much or more on corrections than higher education. (I’m moving to MN.)
by lisa, 1 day ago at 11:11 am
Sixty-two percent of Americans think that the country should reduce spending in order to cut the deficit. What do they think we should cut? Nothing really.
Well, nothing except foreign aid.
Kevin Drum at Mother Jones reminds us that foreign aid is about one percent of the U.S. budget.
…there were only four [other] areas that even a quarter of the population was willing to cut: mass transit, agriculture, housing, and the environment. At a rough guess, these areas account for about 3% of the federal budget. You could slash their budgets by a third and still barely make a dent in federal spending.