Thursday, April 21, 2005

Am I missing something?

On one of my procrastinatory meanderings about the Internet, I came across a reference to a referendum soon to be held in Arizona. If passed, it will require that at least 65% of the operating budget of any school district be spent on "in the classroom" activities. (The national average is apparently something on the order of 61% - the difference amounts to billions that, it is said, could be spent on teacher salaries.). An organization called "First Class Education" is apparently behind this.

Since I do not intend this to be a political blog, I decline to say whether I think this specific policy implementation is a good idea. One thing, however, particularly struck me as being a bit odd. The First Class Education web site describes what it considers to be an "in the classroom activity," which they claim is based on some definition provided by the National Center for Education Statistics:

The National Center for Educational Statistics definition of “in the classroom spending” appears below. Generally, if the expenditure has to do with direct instruction of students in any form, from learning to read a book, read music, read Braille, to learning to read a football pass protection pattern, the expenditure is counted as being an “in the classroom” expense.

“In the Classroom”
Classroom Teachers, Personnel
General Instruction Supplies
Instructional Aides
Activities -- Field Trip, Athletics, Music, Arts
Tuition Paid to Out-of State Districts &
Private Institutions for Special Needs Students

"Outside the Classroom”
Plant Operations & Maintenance
Student Support -- Nurses, Counselors
Food Services
Instructional Support including Librarians
Teacher Training & Curriculum

Note the highlighted portions.

Huh? Libraries aren't "in the classroom," but sports are?! Other than phys. ed., aren't "athletics" universally considered an extracurricular activity?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Many places separate the P.E. period from the "Athletics" period, but both are instructional class periods during the school day. I'd be worried, though, if that definition includes pay for coaching stipends and extra workdays for coaches (or band directors, for that matter!), since that pay is specifically related to the "extra curricular" portion of athletics (or band). Like athletics, the band class period is considered instructional, but anything outside the class instruction period is considered extracurricular.

It's sheer insanity to leave libaries out of the instructional definition.

The Texas legislature has recently indicated that it, too, wants 65% of school funds to go toward direct classroom expense but, in true Texas fashion, has yet to define what's included in the calculation. Hopefully they'll figure it out before school districts have to adopt their budgets for the next school year.

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