When "Portability" Means "Privatize"

Posted 11/29/16

"Isn't the MAEP based on students' needs?" "Why do we need a new formula?" These are now our most frequently asked questions.

The answer to the first question is, "Yes." EdBuild proposes using a base student cost, which we use now, and replacing our "add-ons" with "multipliers" to fund additional needs like poverty and disabilities. They agree that schools should get their funding in one lump sum to spend as they see fit - like it is now.

There isn't much practical difference. Unless they are using the ALEC definition of "student-based," which it promotes as being "portable." Translation: "Takes your tax dollars away from your public schools and sends them to private academies and for-profit charters." Assigning dollars to a student, rather than to the student's public school, moves us one step closer to privatization, an inefficient system that sacrifices education for the common good and economies of scale in favor of the school du jour for the privileged and the profiteers. And sends less money to the classroom.

We don't know if this is what EdBuild will propose. In fact, with a January 3 start to the legislative session, it's a near certainty that the public won't have time to fully vet any new plan, which is why we are calling for a "NO" vote in 2017 and sufficient time for the public to review and critique any proposed changes to our school funding law.

I have requested a meeting with EdBuild so that I can keep you abreast of their progress. I promise to keep you posted.

A number of lawmakers have confided that they are uneasy about the secrecy surrounding the process thus far, and they are grateful that we have taken this position. Please talk with your own legislators before the 2017 Legislative Session convenes January 3. Ask them to vote against any funding formula rewrite in 2017 and for their assurance that you will have a chance to personally review and weigh in on any changes to our school funding formula before they agree to support it. If it's worth doing, it's worth taking the time necessary to do it well.

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Our kids are counting on us!