Thursday, June 22, 2006

Sullivan's 65% Solution Fails the Test

A report released today by the Citizens Policy Center raises serious concerns about a ballot initiative to keep at least 65 percent of public school money in the classroom.

The report, published by the Citizens Policy Center, a non-partisan Oklahoma policy organization, says there is no evidence to prove that forcing schools to put 65 percent of funds in classrooms has any positive effects on student achievement.

“If Oklahomans are looking for a mandatory spending plan for schools as an accountability measure there are better research-based approaches,” the report states. “Although improving student achievement and public schools is vitally important, this is a one-size-fits-all mandate on our school districts and conflicts with the notion of local control.”

The CPC study, “Why the 65% Solution is No Solution for Oklahoma,” says that any real accountability solutions for schools must recognize that student success comes from a range of programs and services in a community and not solely from classroom instruction.

“We see this ballot initiative as a marketing gimmick with little relevance to the success of students or the quality of instruction in our classrooms,” said Roy Peters, CPC board chairman. “We believe the people of Oklahoma want to address education reform in proven ways that will make a real difference for students. Our research says the mandate would do more harm than good.”

Student success is determined by a number of factors, including factors that would be not be included under the school-funding mandate, according to the study. “Our research confirms that school counselors, principals and teacher training directly impact student achievement,” Peters explained. “These areas would not be included in the 65 percent funding mandate.”

Agreeing on a definition of “classroom instruction” is another problem with the ballot initiative. Under the Oklahoma ballot initiative, classroom expenses would not include transportation, cafeteria, utility, maintenance, nursing and administrative costs.

School Matters, a service of Standard and Poor’s, the nationally recognized bonding firm, analyzed district level spending and student achievement data from nine states and found that “student performance does not noticeably or consistently increase at 65 percent or any other percentage spent on instruction.”

Just last week, supporters delivered eleven boxes of petitions to Secretary of State Susan Savage’s office for counting and validation. The initiative petition drive is part of a national effort from an organization called First Class Education.

Copies of the report are available at

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