Monday, March 15, 2010

Refreshing Idea from Kathy Cox

I about fell out of my chair when I saw this headline on today:

"Cox: Raise Lottery Ticket Prices For Schools"

Finally, someone talking about ways to keep funding levels for education where they are. Now if we can only get folks to stay disciplined about budget priorities even if we maintain revenue.

It is frustrating that it takes a budget crisis to focus attention on our public funding but at least we are having the dialog ...

What do you think about a $1.50 Lotto ticket? I can't think of a good reason not to do this as a stop-gap measure with a sunset clause based on property tax recovery.

I also spotted this impassioned plea for Fernbank's STT from an op-ed at AJC:

DeKalb: County can't lose its science jewel

I agree with the writer that it would be tragic to lose this program but compared to what??? That's the rub with a deficit of the size we have. I'll gladly suffer a 50 cent increase on my lotto ticket to save this "crown jewel" and even some of the rusty iron underpinnings of our public system.


Anonymous said...

Wait, why should we be happy about raising a regressive tax (i.e. the lottery)? Everyone is up in arms when a progressive tax increase such as property tax hike via a millage rate increase is discussed. This makes ZERO sense (well other than political sense).

The lottery unfairly taxes those with less while the property tax taxes those who can afford to own property of a higher value. This makes no sense. If you can afford an expensive house, you can afford to pay a higher tax rate!

Those who play the lottery are likely not the people who we need to tax more (those making six figure salaries are).

The Hope lottery is already unfairly benefiting the rich by allowing children of families who can afford to pay for college to go for free. Many students with parents at the top 10% of income earnings and attend school for nothing are benefiting from a tax that they nor their family members are likely paying.
Why not make HOPE a needs based scholarship and put the left over funds into the local school systems based on population percentages (or better yet based on location of ticket sales)?

Anonymous said...

Really anon 6:36? And is someone forcing those "less fortunate" individuals into buying the lottery tickets? That's exactly why our country is so screwed up...let those of us who have worked hard and are making a decent living pay more than our share so the others can benefit.

Anonymous said...

Why not do away with HOPE all together and use the money to fund pre K-12 grade education?

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:36,

So we need to tax people who make 6 figures plus who I would like to assume reached that income bracket by the sweat of their own brow or had the means to get where they are. Why should I stick up for the poor man who buys hundred of dollars of lotto tickets a month, but doesnt provide health insurance or basic needs for his family? This is why our country is so screwed up. We have "wealth envy" people who think that the reason they are in their predicament is because some rich man put them there.

No "rich man" put me where I am. If you want to play the lotto, pay the tax. No tax? dont play. Simple as that. Sounds like the fair tax in action.

Oh yes, by the way, I went to college and grad school with no scholarships (except HOPE) and my mother made 24,000 dollars a year single parent two kids who have been put through college thanks to HOPE. The "rich" kids should have every right to use HOPE as much as the "wealth-envy" You live in GA make the requirements and its a done deal.

Its interesting how "progressives" only want equal rights when it only brings those who are smart with their money and resouces down to the level of those who would rather spend money on blackberries and versace clothing, but have no basic health insurance or choose not to provide basic school supplies for their kids. I cannot tell you how many of my kids come into my classroom with blackberries and upscale clothing, but no supplies and other basic essentials for education and the parents look at you in disgust when you ask if they could provide some supplies for their kids. You get the comment

"Isnt that your job as a teacher to provide my kids w/ pens,pencils,paper?"

Off the soapbox.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:54 PM,
Here! Here! Total agreement!

Cerebration said...

I would have loved a HOPE scholarship. I paid my own way through college by waiting tables. To this day, I'm a good tipper - so many people are working hard to pay their own way through school. Yes, there are some wealthy people who can afford to just pay - but they are truly a small group.

Anonymous said...

Deep cuts must be made to Admin and Support at DCSS, with particular attention to the areas of the Central Office that have grown over the past few years. But, we do need to be ante up a few more dollars in property tax if that is the only way to preserve a decent education for our kids. If we can throw in some lottery dollars, that would be great, too. With a deficit this large, a multi-faceted solution is required.

Anonymous said...

I am still paying my student loans and will be doing so until my son is 16 and I graduated 14 years ago. I went to a state university and a private school to earn my Masters as I could not get just a teaching certificate in my home state.

There is no HOPE scholarship in most states, but what good does HOPE do when the k-12 education system gets watered down and isn't preparing kids for university? We need to make education important in Georgia and right now it's not.

HOPE is a great program, but the state needs to look at education as a big picture and right now we are in big trouble. Does it make sense to fund HOPE, or does it make more sense to use the money for HOPE to fund smaller classrooms and quality programs for K-12?

Cerebration said...

Personally, I think it's sad that our state superintendent of schools has to propose using money from a lottery to fund education. Where are we going?

Kim Gokce said...

lol - good point, Cere. It is sort of perverse that we've come to this but we have.

At least in DeKalb, my sense is that the average voter does not want SPLOST IV, does not want a millage hike, and wants our schools improved. I question whether the situation in our County is but an example of a more broad crisis in confidence in public education.

Little things make me wonder ... for example,did you see the $1 million left by an anonymous individual for Immaculate Heart of Mary School? See:

Catholic School Receives $1m

The money will go to the school's endowment to help keep tuition at $6,000 and to support financial aid for less fortunate families who want to afford a Catholic education.

$6,000??? Would my Muslim father forgive his Christian son if I sent his grandson to Catholic school? Sheesh! That's a good deal ...

Do you know of any stories about DeKalb Public System alumni who have opened the checkbook like this? The money is there in the alumni. Would anyone trust DeKalb with $1m of their hard earned assets?

I don't know, I am concerned that the public system (emphasis on system!) has lost its soul. To have a revival if public enthusiasm and pride is what we need and that will take many years and a very different approach from the top.

As for the lottery money, I tend to fall into the camp of there is no such thing as spending too much money on education. If we are going to "waste" public funds, let's do it on education.

Jeff said...

This is a poorly conceived idea. A 50 cent increase per lottery ticket would likely decrease revenue, as many people would be less likely, or less able, to play the lottery.

$5 for five chances to win...I'll play.

$5 for three chances to win...I'd be more likely to spend the $5 elsewhere.

At best, revenue would be about the same as it is now.

Cerebration said...

" The money is there in the alumni." - Right. For instance, do you know that First Lady Mary Perdue is a Lakeside Alum?

Cerebration said...

I have a better idea - why not pay the Catholic Church to run our schools? They seem to do an outstanding job with only $6,000 tuition per student.

Anonymous said...

Kim, I doubt any parent or community foundation would give DeKalb County any kind of major endowment because DCSS consistently demonstrates fiduciary incompetence.

As a side note, DCSS has discussed a new policy with parent groups that all PTAs and Charter Councils deposit all monies received for dues, donations, "extras" like Spirit Wear etc. into a DCSS account, then DCSS will write a check back to the schools.

I don't think so.


Anonymous said...

Where are getting the $6,000 figure from? It is over $11,000 for St. Pius (including books and uniforms and that ever present private school "activity fee"). Marist is a whopping $16,000 a year.

Kim Gokce said...

That was the figure quoted in the article for Immaculate Heart of Mary on Briarcliff Rd - I believe it is accurate for K-8.

Kim Gokce said...

Jeff: "... same revenue ..."

While I believe the price elasticity of demand for lotto tickets definitely is a consideration, I would _guess_ that a 50% rise would not have a 50% impact on demand. But that's not really my point anyway ... I cited this article because it's the first time I've seen anyone even _discussing_ revenue enhancement (and I don't believe Lotto is a tax, no) and I like THAT.

Anonymous said...

$6,000 is the fee for Catholic students. The non-catholic rate is much closer to $8,000. Plus you have to add on those activity fees.

Kim Gokce said...

DunMoody: "fiduciary incompetence"

Exactly. Trust is not the first word that comes to mind for most folks in a word associate for DCSS. This affects businesses also who would otherwise more energetically support our school system.

How can a public institution founded on public trust thrive without trust?

Kim Gokce said...

good details to know about IMH tuition/fees, Anon, but it doesn't change the fundamental question of why an individual would entrust IMH with $1m and no one seems able to cite an example of similar trust in our public system.

On the other hand, we ALL are obligated to entrust hundreds of millions in DCSS and the lives of our children. Again, my concern is that the foundation of the public system has been eroded in DeKalb.

For example, if there were a place at IMH for every parent who wanted their kid to attend and they had a $6000 (or $8k) voucher, how many more would abandon DCSS schools?

In the end, it is a question of the industrial scale of DCSS ... could the Catholic Church manage a system as well or efficiently as they apparently run individual schools? I have my doubts and I would like there to be a public discussion about how we empower individual public schools - couldn't care less about "the system."

Anonymous said...


I understand what you are suggesting when you say you had rather see public monies “wasted” on education. However, that is exactly the problem we have now. Tax dollars are being wasted by the very stewards – both elected and non-elected – managing and controlling the direction of DCSS. The taxpayers are not getting the accountability they deserve and the students in DeKalb schools are being educationally short changed. This is not unique to DeKalb; public education nationally has its problems. If you cannot make the existing system workable, is it time to consider alternatives?

Bill Bennett had Fredrick M. Hess on his show this morning and there was a very interesting conversation about education in America and its reform. Bennett has had many other guests on his show to discuss the failures and successes of education in our country over the past year. At some point the verbal masturbation must end. If we cannot put this train wreck back on the right track it may be time to consider education alternatives that are student productive and respectful of tax dollars.

Mr. Hess has an interesting book some may find of interest, Education Unbound.

A repeating theme in Bennett’s shows with guests discussing education is that better teachers produce better results and poorer teachers can do a lot to destroy student interest in school. Twice, along with other parents, I have come across a teacher that simply should not have been in the classroom. In each case, the principal acknowledged there were problems with the teacher but she was “working with the teacher. After three years they are transferred to another DeKalb school to continue to damage their future students. This would not fly in the private sector.

Kim Gokce said...

On a philosophical note, perhaps a private/religious school like IMH inspires endowment contributions because the Church simply has a track record of success that is much longer than the public schools.

I get that a church-run or funded school is not for everybody but can anyone dispute that they've been in the "business" of education far longer? Besides, I think the public system suffers from an identity crisis ...

It used to be that the majority of middle class folks saw the public system as theirs. What they did for the schools they did for their communities because it was a direct relationship and sense of ownership. Not so any longer!

In DeKalb at least, many I know have absolutely nothing to do with the public system and many feel completely isolated from leadership. The public system's constituency of well-off citizens has been shrinking and recent scandals are not helping recruit replacements.

Increasingly, my impression is that public schools are viewed by too many as only for those that can't afford an option.

This is upside down from when I was in the public system - private was considered a luxury item then. I attended Lakeshore HS, the East Point public rival of Woodward Academy in A and AA sports. I viewed Woodward as the home of the uber-rich but the base now includes many middle class families headed up by a professional of one type or another.

I remember one game against Marist in '77, I believe, where I saw Hank Aaron among the Marist parents. We never imagined anyone other than the extremely wealthy and famous would enroll at those schools.

My, how the times have changed ...

Kim Gokce said...

Anon 10:53 ... "If we cannot put this train wreck back on the right track it may be time to consider education alternatives that are student productive and respectful of tax dollars."

It is time. But how? There doesn't seem to be one policy change that can remedy the hydra-headed problems of the public system. Ok, so some say "slay the monster" that is public education .. but then what?

I have to believe that in the long run we have to have a sustainable model for public education that does not depend on the vagaries of individual neighborhoods, parents, school boards, etc.

In a way, I view the problems of public education as analogous to those of government prior to the American Revolution. While imperfect, our Constitution and the Bill of Rights have accomplished the closest thing to a balance between individual rights and public necessity.

Where is our John Adams and Thomas Jefferson of education?

Paula Caldarella said...

Kim, I have to disagree with you a big here - parents "endow" DCSS schools every day maybe not to the tune of a $1 million dollars, but it does happen - it may be purchasing and donating supplies for the teachers, donating clothing for the clothes closet whereby parents can come by anonymously and get clothing for their children, donating money so that a child can afford to the supplies he/she needs to participate in a science fair, coordinating a Pancake Breakfast to raise funds for the students to attend a Math competition, parents spending their time and own money to put on a "Night for the Arts", and on and on. I see it and hear about it every day. Many schools have "Partners in Education" that help defray the cost of the school nurse and donate ink for printers, etc., and etc., I could go on and on, but I am sure you get my point.

Cerebration said...

"Increasingly, my impression is that public schools are viewed by too many as only for those that can't afford an option."

Nail on the head! To which I would add, "Or can't access the special programs that actually offer the best of public education for the lucky few."

Paula Caldarella said...

Increasingly, my impression is that public schools are viewed by too many as only for those that can't afford an option."

That's certainly not true here. My husband and I could afford to send our children to private school, but have chosen not to do so and up to this point we have not regretted that decision.

My kids have many friends in private school, and if some of you think it "utopia", well, think again. Cheating, drugs, fights, expulsions - it all goes in private schools - they are just more adept at covering it up.

Kim Gokce said...

Dunwoody Mom:

I don't think we actually see this differently. I know that parents and teachers are committed to their kids and their schools - I see it every day. I'm asking how it is that a school can inspire the confidence of a non-parent (in this case, it was an alumni) to drop $1m on their old school?

No offense to you or any current DCSS parents intended here but we need more than parental financial support for our public schools to thrive. And I have no illusions about private schools - I know first hand about drug busts and other dirty secrets at private schools.

My perspective is are a citizen first - remember, I do not have a school-aged child. I am trying to understand why it is ONLY parents that seem to get the fact that we need to support our public system. For me, it is a matter of civics and I'm frustrated at how hard DCSS makes it to be an advocate for our schools when I go in front of local residents and business owners.

Cerebration said...

DunwoodyMom - you might not make the same choice if you were faced with sending your kids to some other schools in the system. It's about equity -- we have some good schools, but we have some pretty awful ones as well.

Anonymous said...

I'm asking how it is that a school can inspire the confidence of a non-parent (in this case, it was an alumni) to drop $1m on their old school?

I think that part of the issue is that it would not be possible to donate a large sum to YOUR public school alma mater. You would have to donate to the school system as a whole...if that's even possible. That donor probably got something for his contribution, too -- something on the campus will probably be named after him. If a public high school were able to accept a large contribution and then build the "Bill Smith Gymnasium", then I could see it happening. It would make a difference to an individual school to receive a million dollars, but that kind of money would be a drop in the bucket to DCSS.

Anonymous said...

Because DunwoodyMom is concerned with her childrens' education, I'm pretty sure she would move if her local school were not acceptable. If everyone did that, the "bad" schools would be empty and we would be left with only "good" schools.

Anonymous said...

The quality of DeKalb School leadership examples:
Oh, premium gas will hurt the engine better get someone to help me siphon it out!
Wow, that's a great buy on a car!
Oh, its okay to use my official vehicle to visit relatives.
Oh, I guess not getting official divorce papers is a problem.
And the School Board just closes its eyes to all this.
And we expect them to make decisions that will affect our children for years to come.
Great, just great.

Kim Gokce said...

Anon 1:16: "I think that part of the issue is that it would not be possible to donate a large sum to YOUR public school alma mater."

I know that is possible. It was not in the past. The DeKalb County Public School Foundation specifically provides for school-specific donations if a group of volunteers organize as we have for CKHS.

I would love to test that theory at Cross Keys. Calling all wealthy CKHS alumni! We're the only HS in the County not identified as a high school worthy of an auditorium. Send your checks to Cross Keys Foundation, P.O. Box 543, 4060 Peachtree Road, Atlanta, GA 30319. A single check of $3 million and I will guarantee we'll name the auditorium after you, your pet, or your deceased spouse.

Anonymous said...

I think Cox's proposal is silly and could actually hurt the HOPE funding. Many people buy lottery tickets because they are one dollar and are convenient to purchase. Marketing folks will tell you that raising the price to $1.50 could actually reduce lottery proceeds.

More important, where the heck was Cox, the state superintendent of schools, for the last 8 years while the Governor was slashing funding for education? She never, never made a peep. Her newly found concern for funding public education is false and nothing more than a re-election ploy.