The Criteria for State Funding of Education in Ohio: A future state free of Parkinson’s Law

Just as a preview to the upcoming debate at Lakota schools, and the post Trump election of 2020 where Betsy DeVos will unleash her education reforms I think its only fair to give a sneak peak into my position model for state funding problems in Ohio. One thing that became very clear to me while fighting the Lakota levies during the early part of the last decade was that everything pointed to problems with state funding, where the state was having a terrible time of constitutionally providing money to schools due to two major character flaws in the foundation assumptions of the public education debate. First the cost for schools were filled with what I call in this case Parkinson’s Law, which is a business term to describe typical problems in schedules, where allotted time fills to whatever dates are provided, the work fills the time provided, and secondly, the attachment of money to real estate instead of the students provided by the tax payers. Those two elements have made it impossible to come up with a proper funding model and must be solved before the state can do anything, so to answer the questions from the past, how can the pro levy people and the anti-levy people get together to focus their efforts in Columbus toward real education funding change, those two questions must first be solved. Anything that does not deal with those two issues, is off track and a useless gesture, and that will be my position on the upcoming levy fights no matter what frontier we find ourselves fighting them.

Parkinson’s Law occurs when building things like Gantt charts in business where all the parties of a process are allowed to give their perceived dates for the completion of their given task. When looking at a total project and the critical path needed for its completion, it will be quick to note that all the participants in a schedule will give themselves a comfortable amount of safety in case they have runovers and problems in their task. Taken as a whole, this takes the completion date for a project well past the usual funding requirements and must be worked out by taking away all the fluff that finds itself into the assumptions. In public schools where collective bargaining agreements take up 80 to 90% of a $200 million budget at a school like Lakota, the desire to have tax increases is only to fund this out of control filling of a budget with Parkinson’s Law where the money in the budget always fills to satisfy the supply. It has nothing at all to do with the quality of education, but everything to do in order to satisfy the comfort level of the government school in recruiting, and labor management among a hostile organization that is bound to socialist desires, the government labor unions that are embedded and cannot be removed without destroying education as we know it and the free babysitting service that it has become for so many busy, working parents.

Knowing all that, the per pupil cost of education is excessively high and no state law maker can hope to sign their name next to such an inflated figure until the schools themselves work out the true need of their paid staffs, and are getting the most out of those they do have. If a school wants to pay a teacher six figures to do a job, that’s fine. But the teacher better be worth it. However, through collective bargaining, some teachers may be worth it, some may not, but all get it because of the nature of the union agreement which goes well above and beyond what taxpayers should be funding with their property taxes. It’s the same rule that applies to private businesses, if a company has a unionized workforce, that’s fine if they can operate with it. But don’t ask the customer to pay more for those services because the union is present. That is not the fault of the customer, it’s a non-value-added experience for the taxpayer to fund on the top end for mismanaged services passed down to them through the government school looking to appease the radical elements of their labor force. To keep the labor happy and justify all the advanced degrees and other elements, Parkinson’s Law says that the budget will grow to satisfy the demands placed on it by the comfort level of the participants.

How many teachers does it take to teach a classroom in this fast moving world where video games have more influence over students than a stagnant employee teaching things in the front of the room that are already two or three years too old by the time they are trained to teach it, and how much is that teacher worth for 7 or 8 hours of their day, 5 days a week and summers off? Is it worth $70K per year, or $100k, because a lot of teachers at Lakota are making averages of that amount of money and the report cards for the school show that it hasn’t helped them get “A”s on their state report cards. Questions like that have to be asked before state funding can be acquired because those are contributors to the Parkinson’s Law I am proposing must be answered before any model can be created legally. In this day and age couldn’t a government school operate with a lot less teachers and more interactive media, even larger classrooms? Given the state of the results of our current way of doing things, its clear our education system is not doing a very good job as compared to other countries, so why would we stick with the same old same old, its too expensive and its not very effective. Education needs to be faster, and more engaging, and up to date, with the rate that computer processers increase in memory and efficiency. Things kids learn today are almost outdated before they even leave high school, so we need better ways that are much less bureaucratic to keep up. All these considerations are part of the state funding crises that must be solved before anything happens. Just lobbying the state government for more money isn’t going to solve a thing because we haven’t dealt with how that money would be spent.

Of course the answer nobody wants to talk about that thinks of public education as a crowning experience for youth, where football games and dances are centerpieces of culture young people depend on, and parents who need someone to watch their kids while they are busy at work. But the future of public education is to get government out of it, out of the regulations, out of the report cards, out of the business as much as possible and to turn over that effort to private enterprise, which the labor unions are completely against because it would take away all their emotional leverage. But that is where education is headed whether it takes 10 years to get their or 100. The inevitability is fast approaching and it won’t take long for everyone to see it. The need for more personal freedom and faster rates of learning that are not so top heavy in costs demand such a thought and that is ultimately where the state funding will reside. Any discussion besides these things is a useless one.

The assumption among education activists is to lobby for money to feed the old broken system that has not been effective, as is evidence in our present society. The current system is too expensive and does not teach the right things at the rate that kids need the information. I would offer that the cost of an average teacher should be about half what it is now and that many of them should not just do teaching as a career, but as one thing in their lives. The structure of teaching should not need a stagnant employee present to hold down the speed of learning, but should only be present to provide an interface to knowledge. That is a part time job at best in the schools of tomorrow. Certainly not worth 80K per year for hundreds and hundreds of employees only working a fraction of the day in a fraction of the year. I measure a day in 24-hour intervals, so if a job only requires 8 to 9 hours of dedication from an employee asset, it’s a part time job to my eyes. And that is how things will look as we get into the future state of government school funding models. To me, they are already extinct. Its taking other people too long to realize it, because that’s the way we’ve always done it, but once Trump is elected for his second term and his sons or even Candice Owens takes over the future of the White House going into 2030, the word “government” is coming out from in front of schools which must be privately managed. Just like health care is headed, and just about every other utility of economic expenditure. That is the wave of a fast-moving future and government schools are way behind in recognizing it. But soon, they won’t have a choice. Their entire reality will be taken away with the Parkinson’s Law that has built their budgets with so much fluff over the years that people are tired of it. And will vote accordingly.

Rich Hoffman

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