Tyrus Cobb: More Funding for Education?

You thought you had heard it all.  Then you heard that Tyrus Cobb is suggesting we spend more money on education.  Okay, so it isn’t as pretty as it sounds and there is a catch.  It has to get better first!

Senator Ty Cobb of the far right tea party express wing is usually the last person to say increase funding of anything, and the first to say yeah to cuts.  Still, recently he wrote and published in the Nevada News and Views suggesting that perhaps Nevada deserves per pupil spending levels comparable to Florida.

Florida and Nevada recently shared even testing among 4th graders (1998).  Florida has since surpassed Nevada students without increasing funding.  Taking one rare example from the many counter examples and running with it, the conservatives are hailing this a triumph for the low funding model of social improvement.

“So what was the secret? Gibbons points out that:

  • Florida has extensive online, virtual-school programs and a robust system of charter schools.
  • It has an innovative corporate scholarship program aimed at low-income students, another for special needs kids, and assistance for students wishing to leave failing schools.
  • Florida reformed teacher recruitment by creating alternative pathways to certification, banned social promotion, and strengthened curriculum and assessments (Nevada is very enthusiastic about this!).”

He then points to some reasons why Nevada and Florida are different.

  • Never mind the “increase” in PPF, the fact is that Per Pupil Funding in Florida is $8,567, while it is only $7,806 in Nevada. If you multiply that differential times the number of K-12 students in the state (430,000), Nevada K-12 would need an additional $327 million just to catch up with Florida.
  • Taxpayer funded full day “pre-K” is offered universally to all kids in Florida, considered vital in closing gaps for minorities or ELLs. In Nevada, only 12% participate, while in Florida it is over 74% (Heritage Foundation figures)
  • Florida offers full-day kindergarten for all kids; Nevada for less than 50%
  • Nevada awards teacher tenure after just one year! In Florida, it’s three years
  • Nevada does not have merit pay (“pay for performance”); Florida has more than $147 million allocated annually for merit bonuses

I wouldn’t get too excited.  Ty Cobb says that would only happen with comprehensive reform.  He also fails to discuss the topic of tax reform that would be necessary.  When it comes time to voting for an tax increase, let’s see if he puts our money where his mouth is.

Justin McAffee
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