The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, March 15, 2016 5:13 pm

School-funding cut is a false narrative

Tim Brown

In a recent column (“Traditional public schools devalued,” Oct. 25), State Rep. Ed DeLaney makes wildly inaccurate and, quite frankly, irresponsible statements about state aid to traditional K-12 schools.

As lawmakers, we have a responsibility to base our policy decisions, especially those that affect our education system, on the most accurate and reliable data available.

In this case, my colleague used half-truths and gross misinformation to spread a false narrative, which is something I feel obliged to correct.

First, education funding for K-12 schools is the highest priority for me and for the House Republican Caucus. In fact, 52 cents of every dollar appropriated in the House Republican-authored budget will go to support K-12 education. This equates to more than $16 billion dedicated to K-12 education over the next two years – the most state aid ever provided to K-12 schools.

That being said, DeLaney specifically asked the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency to provide him with data on state aid from reports that are not independently audited or verified.

Those with knowledge of school finance know that these particular reports contain flaws and limitations, making them unusable to accurately track state aid to K-12 schools.

Above all, the data in those reports do not match the audited and independently verifiable data from the Indiana Department of Education, which is charged with tracking every dollar of direct state aid distributed to schools.

As you might expect, the department’s data confirm what we knew all along: that DeLaney’s outlandish claim of a $3 billion reduction in state aid to traditional public schools is unequivocally false. In fact, it shows that state aid to traditional public schools reached record levels by fiscal year 2014.

This starkly contradicts DeLaney’s claim that state aid to traditional public schools continues to remain below fiscal year 2009 levels.

I have a great deal of respect for DeLaney, which makes it all the more disappointing that he did not take just a little extra time to check his “facts” before disseminating wildly inaccurate information to the public.

Hoosiers deserve better.

A simple check of the state aid data maintained by the Department of Education would have surely raised a multitude of red flags and caused him to rethink his conclusions.

And finally, I won’t even go into the tired, worn-out arguments about whether the state should fund public charter schools and scholarships for disadvantaged children to attend the school of their choosing.

I believe that Hoosier kids are Hoosier kids no matter which school they attend, and they all deserve an equal shot at the education that serves them best.

I won’t even pretend as though I know what type of school is best for your child.

My focus has and will continue to be on removing barriers to educational attainment so that you, the parent, can make that incredibly important decision for yourself.

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