Wednesday, March 29, 2017

CURMUDGUCATION: FL: Recess Is For Babies + NV: Their Money and Their Mouths

CURMUDGUCATION: FL: Recess Is For Babies:

FL: Recess Is For Babies

The state of Florida (Motto: All You Kids Get Off My Lawns) continues in its quest to turn public schools into soul-crushing child-hostile teacher-stomping institutions. Florida has implemented more dumb ideas than MTV's program development department. Their testing history is filled with drama and disaster. They've decided that passing the standardized test is literally more important than getting good grades on report cards. They have provided yet more evidence that merit pay does not work (especially if you do it really really badly). They have embraced the third grade pass BS Test or fail the grade policy.  And never forget-- these are the folks who demanded that a dying child with profound deficits be required to take the Big Standardized Test. They allow a wide range of charter and reform scams (here's a fun one involving an elected official), but they also allow spectacular abuses of local control.

"I got your recess right here," says Florida legislator.

There are many good teachers in Florida, and many good schools as well, but it's no thanks to state leadership, which since the days of Governor Jeb "Is It My Turn Yet" Bush, the very model of the well-connected education amateur, has tried its best to make public education such a lousy option that the charter industry will start to look good.

So what now?


You'd think this would be a no-brainer. Moms were agitating for free-play recess-- a full 100 minutes per week-- and legislators jumped on that puppy. That kind of recess time would be a step up for some schools, like the kindergarten class that took recess only one day a week. Or Pinellas County, where it's reportedly no surprise if students get only two days of recess a week. The research supports it, as does the heart of any feeling human being who spends any time at all around 
CURMUDGUCATION: FL: Recess Is For Babies:

 NV: Their Money and Their Mouths

So let's say you're home to the fifth largest school district in the country. Let's say your teacher shortages are legendary. Let's say they're so bad that you hire recruiters and mount a national ad campaign. Let's say your state has implemented the loosest voucheriest funding system in the country so that your funding is, you'll pardon the expression, a crapshoot. Let's say your legislators are in a legal battle with your school board because your legislators want to slap your schools with a "reorganization" plan that might me mighty pricey. Let's say that your school funding is kind of a nightmare that shells out less than $6K per student and depends on revenue that's tied to tourist business via a hotel room tax. Let's say that you have managed to out-Mississippi Mississippi so that you now command the bottom ranking spot for education in the USA.

Let's say all that. What do you do?

Did you say, "Why, build the world's most expensive sports stadium?"

If you did, you're a winner-- probably the only one in this sad tale.

Las Vegas made what is being called "the worst stadium deal" ever to lure the Oakland Raiders to Sin City. The stadium is reportedly projected to cost $1.9 billion. Billion. With a B.

While come of that money is coming from rich people who have presumably run out of ways to waste money and the Bank of America, who have-- well, I can't figure out what's in it for them. But the city itself is kicking in $750 million. $750 million. Some or most of that will come from an increased hotel tax applied to a new influx of almost half a million new tourists who will presumably be flocking to Las Vegas to see the Oakland Raiders, a team that people won't walk across Oakland to watch now. Fans of the deal insist that the combination of the Raiders and Las Vegas will be unstoppable ("Pittsburgh isn't Las Vegas," says one article, and thank God they're correct).
And if the imaginary tourists don't swell the tax coffers, who else is dipping out of that pool of money? Who else might get squeezed aside? Who, did you say? Yes-- the schools.

Opportunity cost is a way to look at an expenditure. You see a scarf and it looks so cool and it's only ten bucks, so it's a great deal. But the opportunity cost angle is to ask, "Well, what else could I do with the ten bucks if I didn't spend it on a scarf?" If the answers are things like "Food for my 
 NV: Their Money and Their Mouths
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