Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Educational Investments? Hah!

Although taxpayer support for public schools is supposedly investing in our children's future, the funds spent on our public educational system go mostly toward staff salaries and current expenditures. Major projects like building additional facilities require bond issuances which are subject to voter approval. There is not a pool of reserve money with which to experiment on new long-term initiatives. School boards would be under political pressure not to accumulate large reserves if it meant taxes could be lowered instead.

What school districts need is the ability to form endowment funds to be used in support of experiments and new ideas whether they be new teaching techniques or charter schools without having to get voter approval to do so each and every time. What separates public schools from top private secondary schools and colleges and universities is the ability many of the latter institutions to raise and support large endowments that are often several times the size of their annual budgets. In fact, one of the selling points that attract talented students and faculty to a school is the size of its endowment. It is no coincidence that the Ivy League schools, lead by Harvard, each have multi-billion dollar endowments and are also among the most prestigious and sought after centers of higher learning in the nation.