Wednesday, June 15, 2005

More money for teachers

Frustrated about Governor Blanco's insitence that she needed to raise taxes to fund teacher pay raises, I decided to look into how the 65% plan as put forth by First Class Education requiring that 65% of a state's educational monies be spent in the classroom. I wanted to know how this would benefit Louisiana. I posted about the plan here on April 10.

I also decided to contact my local State Representative, A.G. Crowe, with this information. I wrote:

I am a constituent living in the Slidell area. Like you, I am concerned about Gov. Blanco's proposal to fund teacher pay raises by increasing the "sin tax" on cigarettes, alcohol and gambling. I feel that not enough has been done to streamline our budget before raising taxes.

I wanted to pass along an
article by George Will explaining the "65 Percent Solution." It "is to require that 65 percent of every school district's education operational budget be spent on classroom instruction. On, that is, teachers and pupils, not bureaucracy." I believe that in New Orleans, there are 12,000 "bureaucrats" in a system of 65,000 students.

According to, Louisiana currently spends 61.9% of its education budget on the classroom. By increasing that only 3.9%, we would have an additional 187 million dollars for teachers. I realize that this would be difficult and would not fund the pay raises entirely, but it is a good start.

It seems kind of foolhardy to fund a teacher's pay raise by increasing taxes on cigarettes while at the same time, the state funds programs to help people stop smoking.

He responded:

Dear Dana,
Thank you for sharing your concerns about taxes and education. I agree with you 100%. We have a spending problem, not a taxing problem. If we had a slight increase of funding in to the classroom, we could fund the raises. I will pass your thoughts along to my collegues.

That was the last I heard about it. And as Blanco's cigarette tax plan continued to be bandied about, I thought for sure that I had been treated with a pat on the head and promptly forgotten.

Imagine my surprise this morning, while reading about Blanco's decision to not pursue her ill-thought out tax, to find out about HCR 77. What is HCR 77?

Summary: BESE (Board of Elementary and Secondary Education): Requests BESE to adopt a MFP formula for the 2006-2007 school year requiring that at least 70% of local school system general fund monies be spent at the school building level for instructional services and at least 65% of the general fund monies to be spent at the classroom level for the instruction of students by teachers and instructional staff members and requires certain reports.

It was passed in the Senate by a vote of 36-0 on June 7. And according to an article posted on the First Class Education website,
The Louisiana House also recently passed the provision without objection, and the measure does not require action by the Governor for final enactment

HCR 77 was first read by title only on May 3, so I have no delusions that my email had anything to do with the legislation, but it is satisfying none the less.