NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


April 12, 2006

A bid to force school systems to cut the fat by putting 65 percent of their dollars directly into classrooms has found favor in a number of states and is gaining momentum in others, says USA Today.

Versions of the "65 percent solution," so dubbed by columnist George Will, have been approved in four states and are being considered in another eight. Department of Education research shows that 61 percent of school dollars now go directly to the classroom for items such as teacher salaries, chalk, textbooks and computers.

Some states are taking action:

  • Georgia and Kansas have passed the 65 percent measure; Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed an executive order last week. Louisiana legislators have passed a non-binding resolution.
  • A 65 percent measure is on ballots in Colorado this November, and supporters hope to send it to voters in Arizona, Ohio, Oklahoma and Oregon.
  • Florida Gov. Jeb Bush wants a constitutional amendment requiring the 65 percent shift.
  • Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt wants it on ballots; Minnesota legislators are weighing a 70 percent measure by Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

The 65 percent solution is a teacher's dream, right? Education groups oppose the effort, saying it amounts to micromanaging schools.

School groups, including teachers unions, oppose the 65 percent bid, claiming that it invites lawmakers to squeeze school budgets without considering all that schools must provide. They also say it disregards guidance counselors, librarians, nurses, bus drivers and others.

The 65 percent idea polls well across the board, but unions say it's simply a bid to divide them by pitting administrators against teachers. Republican political consultant Tim Mooney says, "If it does that, so be it, but that's not our goal here. Our goal is to get more efficiency into the dollars that are being spent on education."

Source: Greg Toppo, "States sign on to '65% solution' for funding schoolsOpponents call plan micromanagement," USA Today, April 11, 2006.


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