Local school boards would still decide how to spend the dollars and that begs several questions - if local policy has not been able to keep students enrolled until they graduate, will more tax dollars fix the problem? Each system currently creates their own funding priorities, don't they? Have their decisions been adequate for each system and how is their effectiveness reviewed? Will increased taxation bring higher grad rates?
Some quotes from the story mentioned above from the Memphis Commercial Appeal:
"Local property taxes in many places could be significantly reduced if the state were funding operations. Some people would pay less; most would pay more probably since total funding would move closer to what other states spend," said Morgan. "As a state, we would still be way below the (Southern regional) average tax burden under any plausible scenario."
And some statistics:
In Tennessee, only 59 out of 100 ninth-graders go on to graduate from high school. Only 36 will enter college. And only 15 will graduate from college.
In the best-performing states, 91 out of 100 ninth-graders go on to graduate high school, 62 enter college and 28 get a degree.
Morgan said that data, combined with a 2005 National Association of Manufacturers survey that 80 percent of manufacturers have difficulty finding skilled workers, tell the story.
Morgan says part of the reason for submitting this report was to create public discussion about education in the state.
I've had this question on my mind for some time - do Tennesseans place a value on education? Is education simply a training guide for employment? Given the state's wide ranging unemployment figures, from 4 to 14 percent or higher, what happens when we have a 91 percent rate of high school grads? A higher number of college grads? Is manufacturing the only way to judge economic health?
It appears to me the state is utterly stagnant in education policies that foster commitment to the process of education. The federal education policies also seem inadequate, given the number of years the Dept. of Education has had to tackle these issues.
Voters are given the job of reviewing the effectiveness of school boards (but not superintendents) and they seem completely disinterested in most cases, and new residents to the state often look for work in areas where school funding is highest in hopes that will insure a solid education for their kids.
Is the solution just more money?