The Model of Redistributing Education Money


The American Interest highlights a model for education funding in Illinois that strikes a number of familiar chords for Rhode Island (via Instapundit):

A big part of blue state politics is the effort to equalize school spending across districts; rich Illinois suburbs can afford better schools than poor towns and cities, so they are asked to send extra money to Springfield to subsidize underfunded schools in Chicago. And it’s not just Illinois—state Democratic parties across the country are eager to subsidize schools in poor places with money raised in rich ones. (Incidentally, this may be one reason Democrats are struggling at the state level).

In the author’s opinion, this model might be just fine except for the fact that local interests on the subsidized side of the ledger want to keep control over their own affairs.  That is, they want to set their own priorities and budgets and tell the folks in wealthier communities how much money to send.

Things may operate a little differently in Rhode Island than Illinois, given our size.  The urban ring is a proportionally larger part of the state, so its representatives have an easier time running the state government for their own regional interests.  That simply makes matters worse, though.  In Rhode Island, all of government is an exercise in taking money from whoever has it in order to give it to whoever’s connected.

With fix-the-system reforms in the last decade, the administration of Republican Governor Donald Carcieri attempted at least to make districts accountable by implementing consequential statewide testing and some limited school choice through charters.  The insiders didn’t like the pressure, so they’re successfully pushing back.

Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo’s alternative approach of setting up about a half dozen in-district “empowerment schools” that must have strong insider buy-in and that won’t be up and running for a number of years is simply not going to be consequential.  So, children will continue to suffer the effects of poor education and the state will continue to suffer the loss of its productive class as people who want to live in a dynamic society continue to make the decision that it’s not worthwhile to remain in a place where government sees them as nothing more than a funding source.

  • GaryM

    The Progressives have a movement called “Moving to Opportunity” that was first launched in 1995 under the Clinton administration. When Clinton took office, a theory was put forward that if poor families had good surroundings (aka the suburbs), they and their children would prosper. That kicked off a 15 year “demonstration experiment” called Moving to Opportunity, dividing a controlled group of those left behind in the urban areas, and those who took up residence in the burbs.

    The end result: Little changed between the two groups, even for the children born and brought up in the better suburban surroundings.

    The bottom line is that it is not the system of education that is to blame, but parents who cannot bring themselves to sending their kids off to school respectful of authority and well prepared for the school day. The Progressives don’t want to admit this reality and continue to promote feel good policies aimed at promoting expansion of families who have no skills at nurturing the next generation.

    When the first dismal results were published on the Moving to Opportunity experiment, the Progressive’s bragging rights were dashed. But in time, they reworked the outcome to re-brand it as a success. This led to disasters such as RhodeMap RI in which Washington needed an entire state willing to sign onto the continuing Moving to Opportunity experiment.

    The Progressives won’t take no for an answer. Connect the dots and you will understand our current Governor’s love affair with places like Brookings, school funding, and the entire cast of out-of-state know-it-all’s who want to retool an entire state’s future direction, at our expense.