Wednesday, January 28, 2009


So as hundreds (thousands?) of Target, Best Buy and Ecolab employees set to creating their new accounts, Education Minne$ota has taken to the airwaves to beg that you please - PLEASE! - think of the teachers' union's well-being children. Perhaps you've seen these ads during the local news programs, sandwiched between the latest reports of the manpower bloodlettings in the private sector.

Wonder how much it cost to produce and air those ads?

Too much by a factor of 1, judging by this story:

Schools lucked out in the governor's budget, winning funding increases at a time when overall state spending would be cut. And DFLers generally approve.

"The governor has given us tools to work with," said Rep. Mindy Greiling, DFL-Roseville, chairwoman of the House K-12 Education Finance Division.

But there are varying degrees of luck for schools.

The biggest hunk of the funding increase -- $91 million -- would go to schools whose students show progress on state tests. How many students improve and the degree of improvement would determine the size of the bonuses. For Gov. Tim Pawlenty, it makes perfect sense that schools that do better should get more money. For DFLers, it means many schools that need the money the most -- often those with low-income and minority students -- could get left out in the cold

Quibbles quibbles. In a time when everything is facing the guillotine, these folks should be happy enough with a budget freeze, let alone an increase. Those ads ask viewers to implore the legislature to make The Schools "its number one priority". Given that there's a proposed $91 million increase in a budget cycle where everything's being cut, I'd say that it is. No matter how that $91 million is being targeted.

DFLers reacted more positively to Pawlenty's proposal that $41 million more be spent to expand his Q Comp plan to every school in the state. That's the plan meant to tie pay raises more to student performance and peer evaluations than to years of service.

The DFL's support for this is rather odd, considering Education Minn$ota seems to oppose QComp. Probably because it looks too much like the compensation regimes in the mouth-breathing private sector.

Eh, I'm getting off on policy-related snark. Something we try not to do here. Yet I wonder:

How many teachers could have been employed with the amount of money used to produce and air those ads? I suppose it really doesn't matter to them since unemployment benefits are taxed as ordinary income. At least there'll be some slop in the trough to pay the teachers, staff, administrations, etc. The more you suffer, the more it shows you really care, I guess.

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