We've moved!

Social Icons

twitterfacebooklinkedinrss feed

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Proposed Education Cuts Bad for South Dakota: Who Should Pay?

What's wrong with Governor Rounds's proposed budget for education? Aside from the usual GOP view of education as expense rather than investment and a determination to cheat our kids of educational opportunities, plenty:
  1. While kids get a 5% cut, administration in the state Department of Education gets a 3.3% boost, $342K more than this year.
  2. The FY2012 per-student allocation is $100 less than it was in FY2009. Rounds would set schools back three years.
  3. The budget anticipates a 20% drop in students taking Advanced Placement courses. If we want competitive graduates, we should be pushing more kids to take AP, and backing that push with bucks.
  4. The number of school districts offering post-secondary dual-credit courses drops from 20 to 6. If that's a local decision, that's bad. If that's a state budget cut, that's worse. And yes, the governor is proposing a quarter-million-dollar cut to dual-credit support.
While doing dishes last night, my wife posited two ways out of this budget mess. We can make our kids pay for it, by permanently hamstringing education funding and denying them the educational opportunities they need to compete for admission to the best colleges, scholarships, and jobs. Or we can make Wal-Mart pay for it by imposing a corporate income tax.

Our kids or our corporations: who should pay?

p.s.: New Dept. Ed. data show fall 2010 K-12 enrollment at 123,629. Multiply those kids by the $240 per student by which Rounds would reduce the funding formula, and that's $29.7 million in cuts.

pp.s.: If you think a 5% cut from Pierre would save you money, think again: the SD Budget and Policy Project reminds us that your local school district (and health care providers) will come a-shifting those costs to you one way or another.


  1. Just a quick aside on AP classes. Why don't we just have the kids that want advanced placement take college level classes at SD universities through distance learning?

    We have the internet infrastructure in place. Why not up the bar just a tiny bit and give them real credits for their hard work!

    When I was a senior in HS I was allowed to take Calculus I & II, and CSC I & II at DSU. This turned out to be a major advantage for me when I got to college both academically and monetarily. I was able to finish up my BS early and with a lighter load than my classmates.

    Lastly, if we did start offering college level classes to high school students, this might be the way to start fast tracking the extremely bright students without hurting the rest of the student body.

  2. Cory, your wife is right on with this corporate tax, see link http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN1249465620080812

    This could be a platform (wink) for someone (double wink) to launch in the next election cycle ;-)


  3. Getting a corporate tax passed will be difficult, however, as you know how influencial they are with our elected officials. see Link. http://thinkprogress.org/2010/12/09/gop-freshmen-lobbyist-cos/


  4. Tony,

    Interesting point. While my kids took AP classes, subconsciously I had a reservation about them. I've always sensed an elitism about AP as it takes the brightest out of many classes and relegating the other classes to being remedial.

    Is the purpose of K-12 to prepare the brightest kids to be able to opt out of college courses or insure we have a broad educated workforce for all to have the greatest choices post-high school.

  5. Eventually, I suspect that a corporate income tax will come out onto the table and demand serious consideration. I don't like it, but I'm starting to realize that I can't always get everything I want.

    We might do well to model a corporate income tax a plan using Texas as an example. They have a corporate income tax but no personal income tax; their Department of Revenue Web site (the last time I checked) makes it quite clear that the "corporate" tax does not apply to sole proprietorships.

    Another idea worth considering is the Montana model. They have no sales tax but a fairly significant, progressive income tax. In fact, their model comes quite close to the one you have suggested in the past, Cory.

    Montana and North Dakota are the only two states projecting a surplus for 2012, according to a site I recently saw (I think it linked from cnbc.com). We might learn something from Montana. Sometime ago, I also saw a site that suggested that Montana is one of the few states where the education people are relatively happy with the funding formula and outcomes.

    Of course, merely "throwing money" at education won't, in and of itself, guarantee any improvement in performance and quality. We must also insist on accountability.

  6. Troy-

    Why can't we have both? Treating everyone equally is a recipe for disaster in my opinion. The world doesn't work that way. In my opinion we should develop everyone to the best of their ability. If that means sending our brightest to college early while leaving others behind in more remedial classes that is just fine with me.

    Why should we arbitrarily restrict anyone's personal development? The only argument that I can think of is that it could possibly make the slower developers feel bad that they aren't fast developers. But, I feel that doing just that is a disservice to both the fast and slow developers.

    The slow developers get an overinflated ego because, internally they know they are slower than others, but hey, they kept up with the fast developers, right? Then, they get out into the real world and nobody cares that they "kept up" with the fast developers. They don't get crappy jobs and become perpetually miserable because they can't keep up with the Jones's anymore.

    And the fast developers get hindered because they aren't challenged in school. Some perhaps burn out from boredom and just quit caring about anything anymore.

    High school, in fast all school, should be a place where people develop at their best possible pace, whatever that pace maybe.

  7. Here is some information for those who like long-term brainstorming:

    Texas Franchise Tax FAQ

    Montana State Budget

  8. Troy, which kid do you think is going to find the cure to cancer (I am assuming, of course, you'd like to see that as much as the next guy)--the kid in remedial class or AP class? Care to venture a guess?

  9. I'm unclear who pays for AP classes in high school. Are they treated like regular high school classes as far as the teachers, textbooks, etc are concerned. I believe the students have to pay to take a test if they want it to count as college credit, is this correct? Where do the costs for these AP classes get absorbed vs those offered at college itself? Do these add to the local costs of operating a SD school district? Someone please answer these questions as I am just wondering. Thanks.

    I had heard that some students don't take AP classes as they don't want to jeapordize their GPA in high school. Also, are there any figures on how many students taking these classes are able to use them as college credit vs the number of students taking them? Again, thanks.

  10. Hearing this story on NPR a couple of years ago convinced me to consider experimentation where ever it makes sense.

    This concept has shown great results in so many settings but has been repeatedly and perplexingly opposed by the ACLU.

  11. Tony's right: there's no reason not to offer such advantages to the smart kids who can make something of advanced classes. It saves them money, gives them time to learn more, and sets them on the path to contributing back to the economy sooner. It's not "elitism" to make the most out of our best and brightest resources.

    Tony also makes a good point about arbitrarily restricting anyone's personal development. Schools get sued if they restrict the personal development of kids with autism or learning disabilities. Schools should be just as dedicated to not restricting the kids with learning hyperabilities. Keep those AP and distance college classes coming!

    Linda, apparently the state does cover some course costs and subsidize the AP exam fees. I'm willing to pay more taxes for those services. But it appears the state support for AP courses applies to online AP courses offered via Apex Learning. If the student doesn't pass the class with a C or better, the school district pays the cost. And I think that if you have brilliant teachers like Doc Miller who can teach the AP class themselves on campus, the cost is born by the school itself as just normal cost of doing business, like any other in-house course. (I lean toward hiring more Doc Millers instead of online courses.)

    Stan, good links! I think I can still advocate the income tax as replacement of sales and property tax rather than a tax on top of those. I'm seeing our current taxation system not tapping the increased wealth the GDP stats and our governor say we are enjoying. (And surplus Montana and North Dakota both have income taxes, right?)

  12. Regarding Erin's question though--I would propose that Wal-Mart makes a low-interest loan to our children for their education, who then pay it back by agreeing to work for a specified period for Wal-Mart after graduation (say, 10 years) at sub-minumum wage rates. After that time period, they are free to seek other employment, if there are still companies other than Wal-Mart that exist.

    Brett Hoffman

  13. Your love of serfdom alarms me, Brett.


Comments are closed, as this portion of the Madville Times is in archive mode. You can join the discussion of current issues at MadvilleTimes.com.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.