End money tug-of-war

Published 3:04 pm Tuesday, May 5, 2009

It is easy to find people who disagree about education policy. To spawn a passionate debate here in Shelby County, one need only mention a phrase such as “public school voucher,” “academic freedom,” “dress code,” “home-school,” or “tuition increase.”

However, I believe we can all agree that it’s lunacy to pit K-12 education against higher education when it comes to public funding.

K-12 educators are trained in institutions of higher education. One well-trained teacher can, in his or her lifetime, touch the lives of thousands of children during their most formative and impressionable years.

Without sufficient funds to train our teachers, institutions of higher education are forced to scale back programs that produce quality teachers — even when those teachers are needed most.

Those of us who work in higher education depend on K-12 educators to prepare students for campus life.

Freshmen must be able to read, write, solve mathematical problems, and conduct library research.

But in a deeper sense, we also expect entering students to possess a level of ethical maturity.

Why, then, have we structured a system of funding that forces K-12 and higher education officials to fight over the same dollars?

Several proposals in Montgomery would lessen the conflict among educational leaders who ought to be allies.

One such proposal would use a five-year moving average to fund both K-12 and higher education, thus reducing peaks and valleys and perhaps eliminating the prospect of proration.

Another proposal — still only in the “wishful thinking” phase — would permanently fix a percentage allocation between K-12 and higher education.

Regardless of the ultimate solution, it is nice to see positive ideas emerging from public servants who care deeply about the education of our young people.