Monday, July 06, 2009

A Tale Of Two School Aid Formulas

Headlines can be misleading as the Star's front-page story on Indiana's school aid formula under the new state budget reveals. The headline says, "State's budget formula favor suburban, charter schools." That headline is accompanied by this bold claim in the story: "The schools attended by the poorest children in the state took it on the chin." The story focuses, in particular, on the funding of the state's two most urban districts, IPS and Gary Community Schools. "IPS, because its enrollment is dropping, loses $28 million -- a 2.8 percent drop in 2010 and 4.3 percent in 2011." "And Lake County's Gary Community Schools, also with declining enrollment, loses more than $12 million, a 3.6 percent cut in 2010 followed by a 4.1 percent cut in 2011."

Unless you dig deep into the story, you won't learn that the facts belie the headline and the story's assertion that somehow or another urban schools are taking it on the chin so rich suburban districts can roll in the dough. The architect of the state budget, Sen. Luke Kenley, points to facts that cannot be disputed. IPS and Gary schools receive 50% more in per-student aid than the state average, and they receive the greatest increases under this budget, "nearly four times the state average" according to Kenley. The fast-growing suburban districts are getting more money because of their rapidly growing enrollment; however, on a per student basis, their funding has actually been decreased. The story acknowledges this comparison of IPS' funding compared to Carmel Clay schools:

IPS, for instance, will get $8,844 in state funds per student, an increase of 5.1 percent per student. The statewide average, $6,553, will increase by 1.3 percent. Carmel Clay Schools, serving a fast-growing area of wealthy suburbs, will get $5,596, a decrease of 1.5 percent.Italic
So people are fleeing these failing urban schools, which are rewarded with more money per student than schools that are succeeding, and they're still complaining that they are being short-changed. The Star is only fomenting racial division by suggesting ala Amos Brown that poor, predominantly minority urban schools are getting screwed over to benefit wealthy, predominantly white suburban schools. If people really care about these urban schools, then they should start demanding some accountability from the people who run them. Despite a lot of talk about accountability by the Star's editorial writers, today's front-page story does nothing to advance that ball; it's a step backwards.

No comments: