Virginia's Third Rail

During the 2008 General Assembly session, elected officials will work on the next two year budget for the Commonwealth, and already estimates are that “rebenchmarking the SOQs” will cost Virginians at least $1.5 billion in addition spending.  Frankly, the only way for Virginia to continue paying for this biannual increase is through a massive, statewide tax increase.  No politician wants to tell you that, but it is the only way for the current system to work.   But there is a better way!   In yesterday’s Richmond Times Dispatch, Lil Tuttle, executive director of the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute and former member of the state school board, lays out a new and better way to fund public education.  It is similar to the way all but four states in the nation do it.  

Instead of basing funding on inputs (the archaic, pay off the teachers unions system), it would base funding on outcomes.  The money is student driven instead of staff driven.  One example Tuttle gives is of a school district that saw enrollment reduced by 425, but the number of staff increase by 470!  Can anyone honestly say that is an efficient way to spend taxpayer dollars (other than the educrats and their unions)?

  Unfortunately, most politicians in Richmond, regardless of political party, are pathetically fearful of the Virginia Education Association and the other government school unions.  Few are willing to stand up to this third rail of Virginia politics.  Until that happens, expect to pay far more for failing inner city schools, more and more staff in schools that are decreasing enrollment, and watch the money flow from the VEA to General Assembly members  who fail in their jobs to protect the best interest of children in Virginia.