Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Good God, why that? 

Tim Pawlenty has plenty of issues to run on. While I'm not a huge fan of JOBZ, that would be something to show off, like the new Arctic Cat plant on the edge of St. Cloud. The economy "on fire" would be another. Of all things, why would you spend $200k advertising this?

In the new ad, which began running on the first day of school for many and on which he may spend up to $200,000, Pawlenty says: "Let's increase funding for our schools, but let's also hold them accountable for better results."

In the rest of the 60-second spot, Pawlenty touts a proposal, which has failed to advance in two legislative sessions, to require all school districts to spend at least 70 percent of their funding in the classroom.

In one scene, Pawlenty stands by an office door labeled "Assistant to the Assistant Deputy Vice Administrator" and says "Not here" to spending.

That's cute. But it is also ignorant of economies of scale. The 70% formula works for some places and not others. Check the spreadsheet and see that most of the schools that fit into the formula are going to be larger school districts (I believe the formula is for columns 3, 4, 5, and 7 if I've understood this correctly, but I get too few districts compared to the STrib article's count of 67) includes many Twin Cities districts including both Minneapolis and St. Paul (and St. Cloud and Sartell, by the way). These are of course the largest districts. If you want to get at administrative waste in public schools, the formula is the wrong way to deal with that.

If he wanted to run the education issue, why not run the efforts his administration has made on science and math instead? Because, says Brian McClung, the 70% rule has 'widespread support'. Once again, just as I dinged Klobuchar for playing the "wasteful spending" card as a way to raise revenue, Pawlenty is claiming he can increase spending in classrooms without raising taxes by redirecting money from administrative waste. He can do better than this. Neither candidate should be offering free lunches.