To the Editor:
The critique by Bruce Baker and Michael A. Rebell of our publication on weighted-student funding, “Fund the Child,” mischaracterizes our arguments (“Robbing Peter to Pay Paul,” Commentary, Nov. 29, 2006). We do not contend that weighted-student funding is a “silver bullet.” Rather, it is a critically important reform that attacks two core problems in school funding: that money does not systematically benefit the children who need it most, and that the public is kept in the dark about where funds go and for what purpose. The proliferation of new schooling options and our decreasing reliance on local property taxes for education funding have put new pressures on a system that simply has not kept pace.
Our tongue-in-cheek boasts of a “100 percent solution” are obviously meant to contrast weighted-student funding with the state legislative remedy known as the “65 percent solution,” a simplistic gimmick that has garnered more attention than it deserves. Messrs. Baker and Rebell have thus conflated slogans with substance in an attempt to steer the debate toward their preferred solution: court-determined funding schemes that mandate vast additional spending on schools.
Unfortunately, both experience and research have repeatedly shown that without fundamental changes to our school systems, which fail to spend effectively the money they already have, additional funds will have little or no impact. Weighted-student funding is an important part of these reforms that would help propel our schools and their funding mechanisms into the 21st century.
Vice President and Treasurer
Thomas B. Fordham Institute
A version of this article appeared in the December 13, 2006 edition of Education Week as Weighted-Funding Essay Mixes Slogans, Substance