Sunday, May 27, 2012

Education Reform, Money Savings for the Beach Cities

Redondo Beach Unified –like many school districts in the state – is facing major budgetary constraints due to revenue shortfalls from Sacramento. Instead of floating bond measures, City school districts should initiate cost-cutting reforms which will cost nothing.

Replace distant school boards with local board of trustees for every school, following the charter model. Instead of politicians jockeying for positions to implement abstract proposals, empowered local parents, teachers, and community leaders can implement curriculum and instruction in the best interests of the student. They can invest the time and energy in designing policy and evaluating its effectiveness more efficiently.

 Administrative staff in public education is still too top heavy. School districts with one high school and one or two middle schools do not need three assistant superintendents. The ancillary bureaucrats who answer to upper-level staff should be eliminated, dedicating more money to the classroom.

 Entitlement reform must be implemented. School districts disburse the majority of their depleting funds to off-setting the increasing obligations to retired staff. Teachers have the right to organize, but unions must embrace reform or lose key elements of their collective bargaining rights. Merit pay for exception teaching, along with liberal rewriting of teacher contracts to permit districts to evaluate teachers more frequently and dismiss unqualified teachers more quickly would save money without tax increases.

Above all, a voucher system would ensure that districts compete for funds and spend taxpayer dollars effectively. Parents should not settle for low-performing schools simply because they are forced to by law.

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