Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Former School Board Member Sounds Off On The Concept of Consolidating School Superintendents


Lately the big push in Oklahoma is to save money by removing most of our school superintendents.  I have four points concerning this but basically I am calling on Oklahomans to use common sense to sweep away the legislative complication of the matter and use their minds eye to see a clear picture of what can and should be our simple education system.

1.  Financial 

     The state budget is about                              16,000,000,000.00           100%

     The state school budget is about                     8,000,000,000.00             50%

     The state school administrative
     cost is about                                                     2,800,000,000.00            17.5%

     The total pay to all state
     superintendents is about                                       75,000.000.00          .0047%

It is apparent by these numbers that condensing 550 superintendent down to 77 will make no noticeable difference in the state budget nor the states school budget.

2.  Restriction

If the school superintendents are removed, the legislature will make more laws to take the place of the superintendents which in turn will lesson the people's control of each school district and as always when government is involved, the cost will increase.

3.  Legislative Control  

The end result will be further legislative micromanagement which is the primary reason we have a poor education system that cost far more than is needed for a good education system.

Where is the administrative cost being spent?  At higher education levels, such as our state school chancellor, the highest paid state employee.  Much goes to overpaid professors who lead research groups that are not needed and are duplicated to keep competing state universities happy.  These professors do not teach and such jobs are the goal and achievement of most professors.

Many say if we remove the bulk of state school superintendents we can remove their support staffs, but this is not true because the support staffs primary work is to supply data to the over burdensome bureaucracy the legislature has created in the name of better education.

Without school superintendents, most of our schools would loose the financial oversight that keeps them functioning, not to mention the where with all to seek financing solutions to keep up with the burdens of government concerning facilities, teachers and environment.

4.  Suggestion

The truth is, the legislature and federal government need to be removed from education.  If our schools could spend money as best for their districts without the bureaucratic strings attached, school budgets could actually be decreased and still maintain the same level of infrastructure and instructors.

Furthermore, if we could remove the teachers union pay scale for teachers and allow teachers to individually negotiate their employment package, we could begin to heal the education system with the free enterprise system.  This will truly reward good teachers and weed out sub-standard teachers. Free enterprise, left to it's own, will result in the finest product for the least money.  The people of each district through their vote, lobbying school superintendents and electing school board members will create the school system that best fits each district.  Finally, if after the strings of government have been cut, we allow the money to follow the student and allow true open transfer, the competition will flow between school districts as they vie for more money through more students, our schools will once again become the best in the world.  With such a school system our superintendents would become more necessary and worth every dime.

I believe one more thing is needed to complete our schools in the spirit of free enterprise and that is the ability to solicit private funding.  This funding could support athletic programs, extracurricular programs, school to work programs, meals, transportation or even the entire school.  Likewise the school work take on the look of the provider(s) of the funding just like they have already become with government funding......inefficient and expensive.

The string attachment of private funding within a competitive atmosphere is beneficial to both the producer and the consumer.  In order for the school to get funding from a private source, it most likely will have to submit to certain guidelines and in turn take on the reflection of the funding source or the sources intentions.  In a similar fashion, the supplier of the resources will be required to fulfill the needs of the school or risk replacement.  Therefore supply and demand each have control with the ability for either party to cut the string.

To compare with funding of our schools today by the government, schools become bureaucratic failures, insufficient institutions and unable to respond to the needs of the public.  The current system gives the producer all of  the control and the consumer has no control.  With a true free enterprise system the consumer doesn't have to buy the product and if enough consumers don't buy the product the producer will either need to change the product or go out of business.

As a former school board member I have seen the control wither away from the public and the government burden the schools with so much bureaucracy in the name of improving education, that the schools can neither function properly nor be financially responsible.

The only problem with our superintendents is they are teachers thrust into a situation that requires a businessman.  To make matters worse, superintendents are expected  to fix a problem within the bounds created by men whose recourse is law and money.  The education system is not broken, it is simply drowning on good intentions.

Sincerely,

Thompson E. Speir