Shuffling The Education Dollars

Government cannot be trusted.  It has proven this time and time again showing that the further up the ranks from local to federal the more inefficient and corrupt it gets. 

As someone who's now serving his 6th year on a town budget committee I can tell you first hand that the money the federal government collects and budgets for under the guise of "Educational funding" never makes it down to our local schools.  And it's for this reason that I have argued in the past we'd be far better off with 100% local control, doing away with the Department of Education on the federal level.

This point is proven in an article in this weeks Nashua Telegraph which you can read in full HERE.  The article discusses $41 million that actually made it from the federal government down to NH for emergency school funding.  However being that our state government has dug itself so far into the hole thanks to the Democrat's out of control spending, much of that money is instead being used to help fill the budget shortfalls and never making it down to the local level.

A special New Hampshire legislative committee voted Monday to divide $41 million in emergency federal funding intended to protect teachers' jobs between schools and the state.

The joint legislative Fiscal Committee voted to give local schools half the money and use the rest for other state spending

Here we have a federal government dishing out money it doesn't have in the first place creating an even larger federal deficit trickling down to a state hoping to dig itself out of its own budget deficit when the money was intended for local schools in the first place.

Here's an idea, instead of taking the money out of my left pocket on the federal level and wasting the majority before it ever makes to my local school, take the money out of my right pocket and give it directly to the school for its intended purpose.  Chances are far less will need to be taken.

Further down the article is another paragraph though that you'd miss the details of if you weren't paying attention.

Federal education officials estimated the $41 million would save 700 teachers' jobs in New Hampshire, but a survey by school administrators last summer determined roughly 200 jobs had been cut going into the school year.

Christopher Clement, director of the state's Office of Economic Stimulus, said in a report to the committee that the state increased school aid by more than $100 million in the current two-year-budget, which fully funded its aid commitment.

He said the federal law requires schools to use the funds for pay and benefits and other expenses needed to retain existing employees, to recall or rehire former employees and to hire new employees. Schools that have excess funds at the end of this school year can use the money to hire new teachers through the end of September 2011, he said.

Interesting, the money is "saving" teachers jobs.  But what if as in the case in Merrimack, teachers weren't cut because of budget issues but instead cut because of declining enrollment as we are seeing all across the state?

Look at the part in bold, federal law requires schools to use the money to retain or recall employees.  In other words we're being forced on a federal level to keep employees we may not actually even need or we lose out on the money taken from our left pocket.

This is why as I pointed out in the article found HERE we see Democrats fearing that Republicans may create an education voucher system.  No longer would the money follow the unions as we see here but instead under a voucher system the money would actually follow the students themselves and work toward their betterment instead of the betterment of teachers unions and employing teachers who may not even be needed.

There is one more subtly in the Telegraph article for those with a keen eye.  It's written in a way that makes it sound like Republicans are the villain responsible for this but when you read through you see that isn't the case.

In paragraphs 2 and 3 of the article they state the following:

Republicans tried unsuccessfully to keep all the money for the state.

State Rep. Neal Kurk, R-Weare, argued that the state has fully met its school aid commitment and needs the money to fill looming budget shortfalls.

That sounds really bad, doesn't it.

Republicans tried to keep all the money intended for education for the state instead of allowing schools to have it for its intended purpose.  WOW.  How could they, right?

But if you actually read to the end of the article the second to last paragraph reads as follows:

The state's tactic is not new. The state - with Gov. John Lynch's support - substituted federal education stimulus funds for state-funded school aid in the current budget. State tax money was freed up from being spent on school aid and used instead for other spending, including state aid to communities.

So in other words they aren't really "keeping" the money as much as shuffling it around using the federal money to cover the state's commitments in educational spending helping to mask the budget hole Lynch and his fellow Democrats created.

Problem is, this money was intended to be above and beyond the money we already are taxed for at the state level, not as a replacement for it.