The moment I read his essay in the latest issue of The Journal of the James Madison Institute, I knew state Rep. Adam Hasner was going to take a lot of flak for his suggestion that a constitutional amendment be passed that would force school districts to spend at least 65 percent of their operating budgets on classroom expenses such as teachers, computers and student supplies.
The Times takes its first shot of what surely will be a series of critiques against the 65% solution, beginning with a snide remark that “the movement’s national chairman is a maverick businessman who has been accused of spreading Wall Street conspiracy theories while his company performs below expectations.”
There is also the criticism that by forcing 65% of the operating fund into the classroom, administrators have only 35% of the fund to deal with a wide array of budgetary needs. “Some critics say they see a high-stakes gimmick — an arbitrary, one-size-fits-all formula that could force districts to cut everything from librarians and guidance counselors to janitors and bus drivers.”
“I don’t want to say it’s sophomoric, but it’s an oversimplification,” Pinellas County school superintendent Clayton Wilcox said of the 65 percent idea.
Yes, it takes courage to knock the GOP leadership’s priority for education, especially a few months before the beginning of the legislative session. And supporters of real education improvement for our students, improvement that is based on neither an amendment that arbitrarily enforces class size or budgetary decisions, will need a whole lot of courage when fighting Bush, Phil Handy and Co.