It all has to do with taxpayer $$$s, but not quite the way the teachers' unions frame the argument.
The movie--produced by Indiana's West Lafayette Community School Corporation in Indiana, whose public schools are considered to be some of the best in the Hoosier State--points the finger of blame at politicians for misallocating resources.
It is impossible for a political system to allocate resources efficiently.
Just as the recent squeeze on funding for public schools was effected
by politicians, though triggered by other fiscal pressures, the earlier
decades of rapidly rising public school funding was also a political
outcome. Emotion drives the allocation of resources within a political
system more so than across the broader economy.
For example, public school spending in Indiana during the past five decades outpaced economic growth as well as most state and local government spending. The 2008 recession changed all of that forcing the public schools for the first time to deal with funding constraints. It just so happens that Spalding was the Controller for the City of Indianapolis during the 2008 recession. Spalding points out that the lesson to be learned from how the public schools dealt with those funding constraints: If funding is to be better allocated--by performance and need--injecting greater consumer choice into the marketplace is the only way to overcome the partisan political process that currently allocates taxpayers' $$$s for public education. Spalding writes:
...ceding all power over the allocation of education funding to the
political system. Introducing more consumer choice into the
education marketplace will provide important signals about how
much money is necessary to deliver a high-quality education to
all students and where those dollars are most effectively applied.
Arguably, the simplest way to achieve this outcome, in the estimation of The Motley Monk, is for politicians to allocate a fixed amount of tax $$$s (a "voucher") to each K-12 student. That voucher is then delivered to the school into which the student matriculates. If the school charges more than the voucher allocates, the student or the student's parents must come up with the difference and/or administrators at the school or other interested parties must provide supplemental assistance. Additional vouchers can be allocated to qualifying students (e.g., special needs students) so they can receive the support services they need.
If Spalding is correct, this "free market" solution will result in competition for students as well as an overall decrease in costs. Why? Parents will send their children to the best, low cost school--public or nonpublic--they can afford and which meets their needs. Only in this way, Spalding argues, will the "true" cost of educating a student at the public's expense be known.
Let the discussion begin...
To read Jeff Spalding's review of "Rise above the Mark," click on the following link: "Public Schools Should Rise Above [Which] Mark?"
For learing about viewing or hosting a viewing of "Rise above the Mark," click on the following link: http://riseabovethemark.com/