Public school “advocates” in Jacksonville were ecstatic last week at the good news that local schools are showing marked improvement.
Nine of the city’s high schools saw grades rise in 2011. Overall, 16 of 19 high schools scored A, B or C grades.
School Superintendent Ed Pratt-Dannals said proudly: “In addition, decreasing the number of lower performing schools (D or F) from 11 to three shows dramatic positive improvement.”
The good news came after the announcement that the graduation rate also had improved significantly.
However, the ecstatic advocates were at a loss to explain how this miracle happened.
They have been in a constant state of high dudgeon over heartless “cuts” to education that, they have been saying, would be the ruination of the schools.
Even worse, they say, some people are trying to foist charter schools, vouchers and the like upon the unsuspecting citizenry. Hide the children. The evil profit motive has entered the room.
They much prefer the way things were when the Democrats controlled the Legislature and would jack up public school spending. “For the kids,” you know.
Few bothered to point out that most of the money went into the paychecks of adults and that not one penny of it went to kids, or their struggling families.
But as those paychecks increased, the money flowing into the coffers of the teacher unions increased. Teacher unions being among the largest donors to Democrat political campaigns, that meant more campaign contributions for liberal politicians who would vote for even more spending.
Who says there’s no perpetual motion machine?
During this Golden Era, grades didn’t improve and by the end of it, more than half the students entering college could not read and write well enough to do college work, but what the heck?
Input is what matters to liberals. If you’re putting filet mignon into the grinder what does it matter if baloney comes out?
Then, in 1999, those knuckle-dragging nitwits in the Legislature decided to try something different. They began employing standards and accountability, and school choice – that is, giving poor students the same choices that politicians and others, such as public schoolteachers, have.
Suddenly, grades began improving.
Yet all we hear from The Blob is that more “resources” are needed (the stuff people who didn’t graduate from Harvard call “money.”) Liberals strenuously oppose the reforms that are producing results.
So, how is it that the schools are improving in Jacksonville after these Draconian cuts?
In search of an answer, I obtained a copy of the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report of the public schools in Duval County.
On pages 128 and 129 I learned that school spending went up every year from 2002 to 2011.
The total increase in spending over that period was more than 47 percent.
The school system’s accountants tell me the actual devastation for the 10-year-period, if you disregard capital outlay, was a 30 percent increase in spending.
Keeping up with growth? The report shows there were four fewer students in the schools last year than 10 years earlier.
If a 30 percent increase constitutes a lack of resources and reforms aren’t working, mysterious forces are obviously at work here. Any other Florida taxpayer worried about his school district’s fiscal health might also want to take a peek at its annual financial report.
Lloyd Brown was in the newspaper business nearly 50 years, beginning as a copy boy and retiring as editorial page editor of the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville.
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