MYTHS VS. FACTS
MYTH 1: Public education funding has been cut.
FACT: Funding per student will at least remain constant this year. The MFP establishes the total cost of providing an education for a student. Then the formula determines the percentages the state and the local districts will each pay towards that total. When the local share decreases, the state share increases. The state share goes down only if local tax revenue increases.
Mythdirection: The base amount remains the same, but the scaling factors are changed. Simply read LDE’s “Myth 3” below that describes some districts will lose less than 100 dollars per child (the 10% is another mythdirection), and you will see LDE wasn’t even able to complete a document with 4 points internally truthful. 100 Dollars per child for EBR with around 44,000 thousand students would be a loss of 4.4 million dollars. However the actual calculation provided by LDE for EBR shows a loss of 75$ per student, which is only 3.3 million dollars, or about 2-3 % of EBR’s state funding allocation. Of course the assumptions used to generate these estimates could be wildly off, and are probably wildly optimistic in the first place. To find out how much you are losing under this formula John White just claimed you were at least remaining constant go here.
MYTH 2: The state contribution to the MFP has remained flat.
FACT: The state’s overall public education spending will increase by nearly $40 million this year, even as the state faces a $1 billion deficit, because of an increase in students. The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) did not increase the per student cost, but the board did vote to maintain the state’s share of the overall cost at 65 percent and the local contribution at 35 percent.
Mythinformation: For starters, the 1 billion dollar deficit is entirely Jindal fabricated and easily solvable by eliminating any 1 billion of the 5 or so billion in tax exemptions provided for soft drink manufacturers, and others that have been on the books for as long as a century. One would assume the parents of the students are taxpayers, so it’s not clear why John White felt this was an important point to make? It is worth noting that BESE did not increase the per-student reimbursement for the 3rd or 4th year, which is nice because inflation has only increased like 11% since 2009. I suppose when you look at it that way, in real dollars funding has been slashed 11% and every year MFP remains unchanged school districts essentially take a 2-3% cut in services and salaries they can provide.
MYTH 3: Funds for special education, gifted, and talented will be cut.
FACT: Funding for special education, gifted, and talented will not be cut. The MFP is a block grant. Rather than receiving a dollar amount to spend on specific programs, such as special education, gifted education, and talented education, districts receive a lump sum. The state is piloting changes in the way it calculates the cost of educating children who require such services. The pilot policy that was passed by BESE has only 10 percent of its true impact, meaning that districts typically gain or lose less than $10 per child. All requirements to provide special education, gifted, and talented services remain.
Mythinformation: John White just started calling MFP a “block grant” this year, while it is nothing of the sort. Per RS 17:7 the money allocated for Special Education and other programs must be spent for those programs.
LA Revised Statues R.S. 17:7(2)(f) (at http://www.legis.la.gov/lss/lss.asp?doc=81172&showback=Y):
(f)(i) In addition to any other requirements of the minimum foundation program formula as most recently adopted by the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and approved by the legislature, the state board, beginning with the 2010-2011 school year and continuing thereafter, shall require each city, parish, or other local public school board to expend funds generated by applying the weighted factors contained in such formula for at-risk students, career and technical education course units, special education students other than gifted and talented students, and gifted and talented students on personnel, professional services, instructional materials, equipment, and supplies that serve the unique needs of students who generate such funds and to submit annually a written report to the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education that details the types of activities on which these funds were expended to serve the needs of the weighted students at all schools that serve such students. The information contained in such annual report shall be published on the state Department of Education website in an easily understandable format.
John White ignores state and federal laws, and even the state constitution, when they are inconvenient. But just putting out a poorly researched and worded memo like this one does not change the actual laws, just makes him look like a fool. Listening to John White is a lawsuit waiting to happen. White really needs to be jailed for misleading folks about our state laws, or at least fired for his gross incompetence.
MYTH 4: Talented programs are being replaced by gifted programs.
FACT: The MFP only calculates the total cost of educating students and provides a block grant to districts. It does not fund or make rules for specific programs, such as talented education. Individual education plans identify what is needed for a child and must be funded. In this case, students classified as talented must continue to receive talented education services.
Mythdirection: Districts must provide the services, but they will have less funding to do so because talented students will not qualify for the same funding gifted students qualify for. Can school districts provide the same services with 30% less money? Could you buy the same quantity and quality of food if I slashed your food budget by 30%?
You can see the original “pants on fire” posting here.
My apologies to Robert Asprin. . . 🙂