The Missoulian newspaper
presented an editorial today that makes transparent the role that Brian Schweitzer is attempting to and should play in revamping education in Montana. On top of that, the newspaper takes well-deserved aim at some of the critics on various sides:
Cries for ‘leadership' are disingenuous - Sunday, October 23, 2005
SUMMARY: Governor's critics want compliance, campaign fodder, not leadership.
Gov. Brian Schweitzer is under fire from Educrats and Republicans to “show leadership” in coming up with a new system for funding public schools.
What the Republicans want, of course, is for the Democratic Golden Boy to say or do something they can whack him for - anything. They're looking for something to oppose, not to support. Nobody should believe Republicans are milling around, waiting for the Democrats' Red State Wonder to tell them how high to jump.
Meanwhile, the Public Education Cartel is calling for Schweitzer's leadership, but what it really wants is his compliance. They have a school funding plan, one that involves pumping a whole lot more of your tax dollars into school budgets, and it seems rather unlikely that they'd prefer something different from the governor. At least they wouldn't if they stopped shouting long enough to listen to what the governor's been saying. The leading advocates of school funding reform are transparent in approaching this matter as an extension of union contract talks, with wages and benefits for teachers and school staff overshadowing all tangible measures of school quality. Consistently, these folks emphasize input over output, measuring the quality of education by dollars spent rather than results achieved. Without greater emphasis on how the money gets spent and the results it achieves, actual improvements to education will be elusive.
In any event, let the record show that Gov. Schweitzer is offering leadership on the school-funding issue. It started shortly after he took the oath of office last winter, when he announced that state government would live within its means. He reiterated that point during a recent visit with us when he noted that the
$82 million increase for public education he signed into law last spring comprises the second-largest increase in school funding in state history and suggested he doesn't see a whole lot more money in the offing. Coming up with a better funding system is the Legislature's job, but the governor certainly has been a meaningful partner in the efforts.
For the rest of the editorial, go here