You can, indeed, put lipstick on a pig, dress ol’ Porkie in the silkiest of raiment, but even so dolled up a sow is not the best prom date.
The governor and his supporters in the Legislature certainly have been doing all they can to persuade us that the biennial state budget lawmakers adopted and the governor signed into law recently (during a ceremony at an elementary school in Lebanon) does more for public education than did any recent state spending plan.
And we’ll give the governor his due on that.
Though given how awful recent state education budgets have been, that’s a pretty low bar to have set for yourself.
The budget does increase overall state support for public education, by $480 million both years.
But, as the governor said, this education budget is not just about the money.
It’s also about how that money is distributed, about “making sure the dollars more accurately follow the child so that dollars are getting to schools as populations change, as the needs of schools change.”
So most of the money is set to go to districts that, frankly, don’t need it, while urban and rural schools, which really do need more money, will actually get less state funding.
Indiana lawmakers have long possessed a miserly disposition to school spending, often shirking their constitutional duty “to encourage, by all suitable means,” public education.
Among suitable means, we’d rank sufficient funding fairly high.
Perhaps the language found in Section 8, that talk of knowledge and learning being generally diffused throughout a community, worries lawmakers, even though they swear upon taking their oath of office to support the state constitution and its declaration of education “being essential to the preservation of a free government.”
Let the people get too smart about things and who knows what might happen; they might just decide to elect somebody else, somebody who does believe that public education is essential to free government.
The governor and his supporters in the Legislature see kids as widgets and schools as factories. It’s a mindset that focuses on production, on keeping the line moving, on reducing the cost-per-unit-shipped.
Money, therefore, should follow the child.
Unfortunately, the cost of educating 20 students is not appreciably less than the cost of educating 25 students.
Yet, if you subscribe to the same philosophy as the governor and his supporters in the Legislature, there should be subsequent savings of around $30,000 if there are five fewer students in that classroom, so state support should be reduced accordingly.
That’s not the way the economic rules of public education operate, no matter how hard the governor and his supporters in the Legislature work to convince Hoosiers otherwise.
Hoosiers know a pig is a pig, even if it’s wearing lipstick.
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