Sunday, January 25, 2009

This Newfangled Internet Is Really Cool For Researching Education Stuff

In just a few minutes of going through this new "search engine" called "Google" (which I think is named after a really big number or something), I found out quite a bit on this newfangled New Mexico public school "funding formula" idea. One thing I've found in using this new "Internet" thing is that you often end up spending/wasting a lot of time finding out stuff slightly different from what you started out looking for.

For instance, this time around I wanted to find out how much implementing No Child Left Behind is costing New Mexico. I thought about this after reading today's Journal story with politicians hemming, hawing and hemming some more about whether to have voters approve a $380 million increase in the gross receipts tax to pay for a newfangled "funding formula". Knowing that my own school has had to start implementing a NCLB-related "intervention" strategy without receiving any additional money, staff, new rooms...nothing, I wanted to see how the "unfunded mandate" costs of NCLB compare with the $380 thrown around in this newfangled "funding formula".

And so my wondrous journey around this thing called "Google" began. It went something like this:

  • I ran into a fact sheet (i.e., short recap of a really long, questionably interesting study) from the study that quite obviously got the ball rolling on the whole newfangled "funding formula" idea.

  • And then there was this (also blessedly short) "final goal statement" from the study (PDF warning: It's short but in a have been warned!)

  • Quickly followed by the study itself in all its long, time-intensive loading PDF glory

  • Then I went looking at the quite useful New Mexico Legislature Bill Finder webpage, but didn't see a 2009 version of the "funding formula" legislation, at least from last year's main sponsor Rep. Mimi Stewart. Another warning: the New Mexico Legislature Bill Finder site is highly, highly addictive for the wonky among us. As White Russians are to the alcoholic, so is this website to an education wonk. Most of you already know about it, but if I can save just one wonk from a two-month legislative bender spent sloshing around this website, I will have done my job.

  • And speaking of my job and sloshing, I did run across a new bill sponsored by Rep. Stewart seeking to formalize professional development standards for teachers of the "Gifted". Now somebody over the last year or so told me Rep. Stewart was, for lack of a more professionally developed word, pissed off as Hell at the Gifted Education community last year because all these Gifto advocates came down on her like a house-a-fire on the, perhaps mistaken, belief that the new "funding formula" (2008 iteration) would cripple/destroy/end Gifted Education in New Mexico. Well, speaking on behalf of all who work/participate in this strange little dressing room of the K-12 teaching gymnasium, I just want to say: Rep. Stewart, you're really cool and work real hard and we appreciate you. We're sorry if we we're a little over the top last year. We won't do it again, and we think your new bill to insure Teachers of the Gifted really know something about teaching Gifted students is really keen. And yes, I admit I'm saying that as someone who already has the 12 hours of college credit in "Gifted" and that I might be a teeny-weeny bit less happy if I didn't and your bill passed. But you're aces in our book. Aces. Now please don't call our parents or take away our cell phones. Please.
Then I found out that Everton had scored against crosstown rival Liverpool in the FA Cup to make it 1-0. Man, this new "Internet" sure can be distracting. For example, noticeably absent from any of this above is the answer to my original question: How much does NCLB cost New Mexico? After refining my "search terms" into this little box "Google" has on its main page (and I must really commend "Google" for both its name and the cute different colored letters motif), I found the following:
  • A list of state-by-state studies done to establish District/State costs to implement NCLB. It even had New Mexico on it!
  • Unfortunately, the linked story was for a 2005 study in New Mexico;
  • and the link was broken;
  • but it did say that NM "was going to have to spend" from $26 to $37 million per annum on NCLB behind stuff. And that was way back in 2005, when the number of schools under NCLB "restructuring" wasn't near what it is now. You got to think that number has at least doubled by now;
  • but that's "thinking" instead of knowing. I went through the rest of the site involved ("Communities for Quality Education") and couldn't find anything more recent;
  • a situation that remain unchanged when I went back to this other site where I found the original New Mexico study that started all this "funding formula" stuff to begin with.
Obviously, either this newfangled Internet has to improve and have information from more recent years on it. Or maybe...hey, just maybe there's been a real drop-off in cost studies for NCLB since 2005! I wonder why that would be? Why would folks at places like the U.S. Department of Education not want to better establish the costs of NCLB? You'd think they would be the very folks demanding the answers to such questions so that they could make damn sure the federal government is better equipped the States/Districts to handle the spiraling costs of NCLB implementation.

So the upshot is that this damn-fool Internet didn't give me exactly what I wanted this fine Sunday morning. I would have been off riding a bicycle...far more truth and information in a 35-mile ride imho. Still, I think if we can better use this newfangled "Internet" we might find out the answers to stuff that could help us make better informed choices when it comes to public school education funding in this country. Damn fool dreamer that I am.

I think I'll start by getting ahold of this actual human being I saw mentioned on the "Communities for Quality Education" website: "For more about NCLB costs, please contact Scott Young, senior policy advisor, at or 202-454-5671."

I think I'll send Mr. Young an email right now. Oh wait, Xavi Alonso just got a yellow card for Liverpool versus Everton. And I see someone has sent me an email directing me to a video where this cat is being swung around by a moving ceiling fan. Oh dear! The cat has been thrown against the wall! That is both horrific and guiltily funny. I think I will try to find similar videos on this newfangled "YouTube" website. I see "YouTube" has a search box feature as well. I'll just type in "funny cat videos".....

P.S.: By this Monday morning I finally tired of YouTube cat videos and tried the aforementioned email address for "Communities for Quality Education". Instant delivery fail notice. Hmmm...anybody got some more recent state-by-state NCLB cost data? Is there a YouTube video with cats explaining the unfunded mandate costs of NCLB while swinging from ceiling fans?


Anonymous said...

Our Govenor, should order his choice of Education Secretary, Ms. Garcia,to come up with this figure in the intrest of "full disclosure"

ched macquigg said...

If you ever find out, I would love to know what it would cost the APS to tell the feds to roll NCLB up in a tight cylinder, and stick where the sun don't shine.

I understand one state has done it, but I can't fight out which one.

Our kids would be far better off.