“Everybody Hates The Teachers’ Unions Now” says Mickey Kaus…July 10, 2009
Quote of the Day: Obama and Merit PayJuly 12, 2009
The New Jersey School Boards Association has just released a report called “Accountability Regulations: The Cost to Local Districts,” which concludes that the Department of Education’s 215-page Fiscal Accountability, Efficiency and Budgeting Procedures has in less than a year resulted in $4.6 million in extra costs to school districts without any discernible benefit.
This is old news to New Jersey school districts, who have been angrily filling out meaningless paper work and implementing redundant procedures since the regulations went into effect last Fall. Here’s a couple of comments from district administrators included in the report:
The NJ DOE needs to take a statistical math class.
Once again, bureaucrats are making the rules and have lost touch with reality.
All this extra paperwork is nonsense.
The cost and burden on the staff of implementing the efficiency standards far exceeds the benefits…the worst part is the quality of service to the students has decreased.
Simply put: the efficiency regs have made us inefficient.
The report concludes with a letter of testimony from Eva M. Nagy of NJSBA who says the DOE regs are “intrusive” and “result in micromanagement” that “create an obstacle to progress.”
What can explain the DOE’s motivation to spew vast amounts of regulations, riddled with errors and inconsistencies? Is the office understaffed? Was there some sort of arbitrary deadline that precluded proof-reading? Or is the DOE’s so focused on the real agenda of the regs – to standardize wildly disparate spending patterns among districts in the name of equity — that it’s giving short shrift to detail?
Major portions of the budgeting procedures are devoted to “adequacy formulas,” which prescribe how much a district should be spending on every aspect of education. For example, the regs state that districts should employ one custodian per 17,500 square feet of space; that staff to student ratios should be ‘higher than the state average” and administrative costs should be “below the state average;” that new hires should be at the lowest level of the salary guide (not possible, according to districts, for hard-to-fill positions like math, science, and special ed), and support services should be equal to or below the “state median” (which will continue to drop).
The intent, then, is to couple the regs with the School Funding Reform Act and to push high-spending districts — not Abbotts, but wealthy districts with a high tax base — to spend less, and the lowest-spending districts to spend more. The idea’s not bad. The execution is.
N.J. offers a first-class education to kids who live in affluent communities and a mediocre education to kids who live in poor communities. We have the most segregated school system in the country and the highest cost per pupil. The DOE efficiency regs try to address the inequities without acknowledging them. The result is a ham-handed and inept document that skirts the real issue.