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September 03, 2008


Brad Jolly

The first set of numbers do not talk about absolute funding levels, but only funding levels relative to various other things. By these kinds of measures, many third world countries would "out-fund" education compared to the U.S.

The second set of numbers, which is district propaganda, does not include the bond money that voters gave the district and therefore only presents part of the story.

Is that the best you have to support the claim?

John Creighton

Brad, I must confess that I am baffled by your persistent quibbling about school funding in Colorado and St. Vrain. You express consistent views in this and other public forums. You convey that you like to embrace facts and that public expenditures should be kept to a minimum.

It is clear from any objective analysis of Colorado or St. Vrain that we have fewer funds than most districts in the country.

At certain point, when you insist on questioning what is clear and obvious to any objective observer it makes it more difficult to take you seriously on other points.

Continue if you must to question the obvious, to question what all reasonable and objective people understand to be true. But, it is extraordinarily wearisome. It makes it more difficult to muster the energy to engage with you on matters in which you do in fact have valid points to offer.

Brad Jolly

John, I regret that you are baffled. I try to be as clear as possible.

Thank you for acknowledging that I express consistent views. I strive for consistency, although if it turns out that my understanding of the facts is incorrect, I am willing to change.

Thank you also for acknowledging that I do like to embrace facts, but I am not sure where you get the idea that I believe "public expenditures should be kept to a minimum." I do not recall ever saying that, and I am not exactly sure what that statement might mean. More precisely, I am sure that that statement might mean many things, some of which I would affirm, and others of which I would reject. Let us agree that I believe government is generally inefficient and should be smaller than it is today. That is different than saying I support anarchy, which is what you would get if government spending was at a minimum ($0).

I take issue with your assertion that, "It is clear from any objective analysis of Colorado or St. Vrain that we have fewer funds than most districts in the country." Let me point you to an objective set of numbers from Standard and Poor's (www.schoolmatters.com). Standard and Poor's says that of the western states (Mississippi River to Pacific coast), Colorado is #4 in per-pupil funding.

I now give you the choice: you can say Standard and Poor's is not objective (and why), or you can say that your assertion about "any objective analysis" is simply false. Take your pick.

I "insist on questioning what is clear and obvious to any objective observer" because what you claim is clear and obvious is sometimes not true (see above).

I will continue to question what you consider to be "the obvious" when what is obvious to you is wrong. Many things that have been "obvious" to people throughout the centuries have turned out not to be true, and it is only because some person has the courage to point out that the emperor's steatopygic backside is quite visible that the public eventually figures out that perhaps the "obviously" fine apparel that the emperor was wearing turned out not be be so fine after all.

Finally, please do try to muster the energy to engage me on the matters in which we could work together to profitably benefit students. As you know, I am more than willing to expend plenty of energy to help students. I agree that this business of you (or the district) claiming that the facts obviously support your position, only to have me respond with facts to the contrary, is not helping students. That's too bad, because that's what we should all be working on.

Gaythia Weis

This debate cannot be conducted without establishing the statistical basis for the numbers cited.

Looking at the data linked to by John Creighton under "consider these numbers": one finds a school finance table that starts at the top with West Virginia with a grade of "A" and that seems suspect. This may have to do with categories such as a wealth neutrality score and notes about adjustments for regional cost differences.
Looking at the website cited by Brad Jolly: From what I can determine, Standard and Poors does not have their school financial and performance data on the schoolmatters.com site he cites. This site enables one to compare one school with two others in the same state. The financial and performance data is given on a second website called schooldatadirect.org, which in a tab labeled "analytics" offers the following disclaimer:

The State Education Data Center (SEDC) provides analytical ratios on SchoolDataDirect.org to help education stakeholders understand the complexities surrounding public education. The SEDC intends for these ratios to inform the decision-making that can help improve student performance, and does not intend for these ratios, alone, to be used to draw conclusions about school systems' performance. With the hundreds of facts and figures used to evaluate school systems, SEDC offers these ratios as a place to begin asking diagnostic questions.

The SEDC acknowledges that data are not perfect and that even the best statistics have limitations. These ratios should be considered with other academic, financial, and demographic indicators provided on this website. Pulling individual data points out of context to create a ranking is a serious misuse of the data and the SEDC strongly discourages users of this website from using data in this way.

I would venture to guess that using real dollars and considering all funding sources, that there would be a number of states with less total school funds than Colorado.

This comparison would not at any rate answer the question as to what funds are necessary to properly fund schools here, and that seems to me to be the relevant question to ask.

Brad Jolly

Hi Gaythia,

The Standard and Poor's site (www.schoolmatters.com) does have the per-pupil expenditure information for each state. Here is how to find it.

1) Find the main page for any school in the state you are interested in.

2) On the left side of the page, click "District Financial Info."

This takes you to a data table, and the cell at the intersection of the third row, third column represents the "State Average" for "Total Expenditures."

Repeat this process for each state whose spending you wish to review.

Jo Charlton

I will direct you to the same website Gaythia mentions www.schooldatadirect.org (powered by Standard and Poors) On this website it states: Average revenue per student for Colorado = $9297. Average revenue per St Vrain student = $8276
For the math geniuses out there that is $1021 less per student.

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