Wyoming Liberty Group
Many people like beer, lots of people like soda. Beer and soda always have foam, but it’s the beverage we want, not the foam. What does that have to do with Wyoming K-12 education?
In education, what we want (beverage) is instruction. Everything else is foam. On Message, Inc. found this to be true in a recent poll they conducted on behalf of Wyoming Liberty Group. Seventy-three percent of respondents favored the idea of a law that requires 80% of all education funding be spent in the classroom.
Wyoming’s constitution mandates K-12 education be universal, free of charge and efficient 1. However, the concept of efficiency is so inconvenient it was scarcely mentioned in the course of more than twenty years of litigation about K-12 funding. The result is the mammoth and terrifically expensive education system we now have.
We all get the warm fuzzies, don’t we, when the auto mechanic confidently assures us he knows the cause of our car’s clunking, that it can be fixed by end of day and it will only cost a small amount? Sure; but then hope and reality clash when the work starts. Taking a look under the hood, the mechanic decides whatever it is, it’s going to take longer and it’s going to cost more – a lot more.
We read frequently about employers who desperately want to hire and put people to work. And we often read about how young people are desperate to find jobs “with a living wage.” So why aren’t they teaming up and living happily ever after? Where’s the disconnect?
Wyoming has been paying a ton of money for K-12 education since 2005. The reason for the heavy spending? It was a major Wyoming Supreme Court/Legislative overhaul of the way our schools were being funded to equalize spending among students.
Now we find that the consultants, on whose advice the spending was largely based, criticize the system for weak performance. Unbiased observers who look at the facts have to agree that skyrocketing spending isn’t improving results.
Most Wyoming folks like to think of themselves as smart shoppers. We like to cheerfully tell friends about the good deals we’ve found or how paying list price for the latest pickup was worth it. Oddly enough, we don’t seem to shop the same way for our children’s K-12 educations. We neither know nor care how much is being spent nor whether we’re getting our money’s worth. Should we?