The other shoe has dropped on the budget requests for K-12.  The Department of Education has told the Senate Finance Committee that it will cost approximately $300 million per year over the next biennium to “rebenchmark” the Standards of Quality.

This amount would be in addition to the $950 million needed annually to finance the proposed changes in the SOQ proposed earlier by the Board of Education.  (I summarized the policy changes in the SOQ being proposed by the Board of Education in an earlier post.)

The rebenchmarking process is a technical one in the sense that it involves no new policy changes in the SOQ.   The rebenchmarking  uses updated data for numerous inputs into the SOQ calculation.  The most important ones are prevailing non-personal costs and support positions, salaries, and student enrollment.  If you are feeling especially wonky, the 45-page PowerPoint presentation, with detailed graphs can be found here.

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11 responses to “More SOQ Money”

  1. LarrytheG Avatar

    Well I looked at the slides which the first few were helpful in understanding the context but I’m still confused about whether or not this is basically the cost of the re calibration process or the resulting actual costs the re calibration generates.

    In other words – is the $300 million the INCREASE of the direct-aid after it is reformulated or is the $300 million the cost of the process of reformulation?

    Dumb question, sorry but I’m hoping this is not the cost to just update the calibrations.

  2. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    $300 mill is the increased cost to provide the existing services, adjusted for inflation and student population, etc. It goes to the localities, who have to add their own share to maintain SOQ. Then there are the new proposals Dick outlined, which add more. The baseline SOQ is hard to cut or deny, an “immovable object” in the budget as one reporter put it. The new proposals, those the GA may or may not go for, and for that matter the Governor might not put them all in his budget.

    You like paying higher taxes for schools, Larry, you’ll be ecstatic.

  3. LarrytheG Avatar

    Steve – there is a concept called “pennywise and pound foolish” that applies to tax-funded education verses tax-funded downstream entitlements.

    I don’t like taxes and hate increased taxes but I also hate it when Medicaid eats the budget for folks who do not have jobs or have jobs but insufficient for their own needs.

    Waste not, want not – also applies and I have wondered if the Composite Index is too “rich”… for some counties that are well
    off – have AAA ratings, yet they still qualify for higher levels of direct aid than other places.

    The thing is Steve – those with a “no more taxes or else” attitude are actually MORE of a menace to good fiscally conservative government than those who know that under funding critical needs is wasteful in the long run and entitlement burdens just keep increasing.

    1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

      Taxpayers funding K-12 education as part of a social contract is sound public policy. But every contract imposes obligations on all parties to the agreement. Students and parents receiving free educations have an obligation to make the best use of those educational opportunities. Of course, some students have severe physical or emotional problems that diminish what they can learn. And everyone makes mistakes from time to time. But most students are in the middle and can well learn the basics and much more irrespective of their family background. Society, through its agents, school administrators and teachers, need to hold students accountable.

      I don’t see any effort to demand performance from the recipients. That’s “blaming the victim” in the eyes of the woke. But it’s really progressive racism and classism that makes many blacks and Hispanics perpetual victims who are dependent upon the woke.

      The best thing Northam could do would be to fire half of the staff of the Department of Education.

  4. LarrytheG Avatar

    Looking at the slides – the process has an almost rube goldberg aspect to it. Does it really need to be this complex to start with and then that causes a need to re calibrate it?

    Perhaps it’s time to reform the concept itself. Anytime you have a concept this complicated, it pretty much cuts the public’s ability to understand and participate in it and it becomes the province of the insiders where, in my mind, it’s an environment ripe for shenanigans and tomfoolery.

    In the end – things like health care, transportation, and education are so complex and interwoven that the average person just cannot easily understand and because we STILL end up with major issues, like folks without health care, kids without education and unrelenting congestion in our urban areas – people lose faith in our institutions and governance and become cynical about it and get to the point where they think their taxes are not being used effectively and carefully and the basic advocacy from the folks in charge is mo money… mo money… and “none of your danged business what we spend it on”.

    There now.. I’m quite sure I got a flavor of something here… right?

    (I’m leaving an opening for Steve to drive a truck though 😉 )

    1. Steve Haner Avatar
      Steve Haner

      But I think I agree with you. Need to read it again, maybe. It is all way too complex and the Mandarin class wants it that way. I’ve been trying to noodle it all out since the 80s….my first experiences were budget meetings of the Board of Social Services, perhaps even more complex. As a lobbyist part of what I was selling was my limited ability to decipher this.

      I agree as well with TMT’s point – something I’ve also said – that education only works well if the students and parents are also held accountable. It is not a commodity you just show up and get, like USDA cheese or a SNAP card.

    2. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
      Dick Hall-Sizemore

      There is no question that the SOQ formula is exasperatingly opaque. Aside from a few people at DOE, probably the only people who understand it, except for Ric Brown, who is retired, are 2 or 3 people at DPB, the lobbyists for the VEA and the other professional lobbying organizations (school boards, superintendents), and the respective staff member of the GA money committee staffs, and, maybe, Del. Chris Jones, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

  5. LarrytheG Avatar

    re: “it’s not a commodity”.

    Well its different things to different people. Some folks who have done well with their education -highly value it – and see it as a significant opportunity, and they advocate for MORE of it for their kids – special programs, AP, IB, gifted, sports programs, etc… and they push for more and more funding – and higher taxes.

    Poll: Most in Md. want to pay more taxes for improved schools
    By: Bryan P. Sears Daily Record Government Reporter September 23, 2019

    A majority of Maryland residents say they would be willing to personally pay more in taxes to improve public school education but that may not mean voters are willing to turn over a blank check, according to a new Goucher Poll.

    In a survey the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center conducted Sept. 13 to Sept. 18, 74% of Marylanders said they support personally paying more in taxes to improve public education, while only 26% were opposed.

    Moreover, 70% of Marylanders said they believe the state is spending too little on public education, while just 6% said they think the state is spending too much, the poll found. ”

    And the schools will SPEND IT!

    but for parents with poor educations – school did nothing for them and so they don’t instill in their kids the value and need of a good education and the kids don’t do well and fall behind – and the outcome is almost pre-ordained.

    So we give more money – and the schools use it to serve the parents who want it… and the cycle continues.

    we can say, like TMT does, that it’s the “responsibility” of the parents and their kids – and I do not disagree but that’s not the reality and in the end – we pay more in taxes for the downstream entitlements …

    The money does not go to waste per se – the kids who have parents who value education gobble it up and often go on to the best colleges and become highly successful – even as the underclass fails at education and falls further behind.

    1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

      We pay more in downstream entitlements. Actually we pay both higher taxes for education that doesn’t “stick” and down-the-road entitlements.

      I’ve seen lots of CEOs and other business leaders lose their jobs when they don’t produce expected results. How often do we see government officials lose their jobs when they don’t produce expected results? And part of those results is moving the needle on parents and students accepting responsibility for learning.

      1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
        Dick Hall-Sizemore

        Your comments about students accepting responsibility for learning reminds me of a comment by my favorite high school teacher. He got exasperated at the class one day and admonished us “for just sitting there and expecting me to just open up your heads and pour the knowledge in.”

  6. TooManyTaxes Avatar

    Do educators really want to teach knowledge and give students from low-income families a better chance in life? I’m not persuaded.

    The Seattle public schools have developed a new “ethnic studies” curriculum that tells students that mathematics is a tool of oppression. Sure, some of us thought that back in junior high school, especially when we didn’t get around to doing our homework. But to have this view endorsed by the schools is remarkable. Robby Soave reports at Reason: The [Seattle public school] district has proposed a new social justice-infused curriculum that would focus on “power and oppression” and “history of resistance and liberation” within the field of mathematics. The curriculum isn’t mandatory, but provides a resource for teachers who want to introduce ethnic studies into the classroom vis a vis math.

    Why, exactly, would you introduce “ethnic studies” into mathematics? This is from Education Week:
    If adopted, its ideas will be included in existing math classes as part of the district’s broader effort to infuse ethnic studies into all subjects across the K-12 spectrum.
    Again: why would a school district do this, unless it is deliberately trying to foment ethnic division? The rot, sadly, is not confined to Seattle:
    “Seattle is definitely on the forefront with this,” said Robert Q. Berry III, the president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. “What they’re doing follows the line of work we hope we can move forward as we think about the history of math and who contributes to that, and also about deepening students’ connection with identity and agency.”
    Why is it the mission of the public schools to “deepen students’ connection with identity and agency”? If “identity” means ethnic identity, which I understand it does, I would think the public schools should be trying to do the opposite.
    Soave points out that the “ethnic studies” curriculum is absurdly left-wing:
    The guidance also includes some extremely political, simplistic talking points that might be popular among activist academics but are in reality somewhat dubious. This is verbatim from the proposal: Students will be able to “identify the inherent inequities of the standardized testing system used to oppress and marginalize people and communities of color”…
    Let’s stop here. Ability to do math transcends race and other irrelevant factors. Facility at mathematics, earned through many hours of hard labor, has allowed countless Asian-Americans to prosper, to the point where Asian-American incomes are now, on the average, considerably higher than white incomes. Why were all these “people of color” not “oppressed” or “marginalized” by mathematics? Because they did their homework and studied for tests.
    …”explain how math has been used to exploit natural resources,” and “explain how math dictates economic oppression.”
    Is this some kind of joke? People this stupid shouldn’t be teaching math, or any other subject.
    There is not much more to say, except to note that the attack on competence can’t stop with mathematics. If math is oppressive, so are physics, chemistry, biology and every other subject that requires hard study to master objective reality. God help us when our structural engineers are products of an educational system that considers knowledge of mathematics to be a symptom of “oppression.”

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