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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Halfway Educational

Today I learned about the "51% Law," a California state law which requires school districts to spend at least 50% of their budgets on instruction (strictly speaking, it's the 50% Law, but we want to be on the safe side).  My first thought: That's all?  My second thought: This is a PROBLEM for some school districts?

Including mine, apparently.

To be fair, some of the things schools provide--like counselors and tutors, for example--which seem directly related to student success and even, in the case of tutors at least, instruction-related, don't "count" towards this 50% threshold.  Still, though, it raises questions.  I hate to provide fodder for right-wing critics, but the fact that this law exists would seem to open schools up to a reasonable query:  What the hell are they spending money on?!?

To which, of course, there are any number of reasonable answers.  In addition to the aforementioned counselors and tutors, there are admissions personnel, librarians, secretaries, lab technicians, etc., etc., etc.  And while it's reasonable that a school spend at least half its budget on direct instructional services, we should also recognize that no college could function without substantial contributions from these "ancillary" personnel.

It does make one wonder, though, in this age of rampant privatization, and the ongoing Randian celebration of all-things-capitalist, about the ratio of instruction to "other" at for-profit educational providers.  I hope that some kind of 50% Law is keeping these folks honest as well.

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