Friday, April 20, 2007

A Memo About School Funding Arguments

My friend, James Forman, one of the founders of the Maya Angelou charter school in Washington DC, posted a reply (see below) to my post about Newark's failures ( on his blog at: He makes good points that I agree with, so after this paragraph:

Anyone ill-informed enough to think that pouring more money into a broken and dysfunctional school system will lead to improvement needs to look no further than New Jersey to see how wrong this is. If anything, more money without reform simply empowers and entrenches the catastrophic status quo.

I added this:

To be clear: I am not advocating funding cuts for our schools. Precisely the opposite, in fact: our schools do need more money if it is properly spent in ways that truly benefit children. In addition, the practical reality is that additional funding is almost always necessary to grease the wheels of reform.

For more on the Spending Myth, see the slides I've posted at:

Whitney: Your latest on Newark schools wasting so much money has got me thinking. I share your outrage at the wasted lives, and your belief that if this were happening to anybody other than low-income and minority students, society would not stand for it. I also agree that rules making it impossible to fire incompetent people have to go, as do the insane contractual rules you point out.

But I think your emphasis on us spending too much money is, in the long-term, a losing approach for charter school advocates, and public education generally. Sure, you can cherry-pick Newark, or Abbot districts in New Jersey, or Kansas City, and say it is an outrage that they spend so much for such limited results. But as the Education Trust points out in report after report, low-income kids on average still attend schools in districts that spend less.

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