Follow the money. That phrase was popularized during the Watergate tumult. It is also a wise directive for all taxpayers in our state and beyond when it comes to how we spend your tax dollars on education.
So, what happens when you can’t “follow the money” because the government and the Iron Triangle Education Bureaucracy puts obstacles in your way? The Cato Institute has released a study about the transparency in spending by departments of education. It turns out Georgia earned an “F”. Click here to see their study. About Georgia, Cato points out, “Georgia is missing the most recent year of expenditures and fails to provide a table or graph that would allow citizens to easily compare changes in spending over time.” In fact, Georgia is missing the most recent 2 years. The financial data that is provided through the state DOE website is the 2010-2011 school year – a full 2 years behind our current fiscal year. (School districts have fiscal years that run from July 1 through June 30. The fiscal year is referenced by the year in which it ends.) So we are missing FY12 and FY13 on the fiscal reports.
Until we fix the financial issues that plague Georgia’s educational spending, we won’t fix education in our state. Unfortunately, Georgia’s Department of Education has not held districts accountable for how they spend your tax dollars. It appears the DOE’s only retort is to ask for more of your money. Our DOE continues to send hundreds of millions of your dollars to districts that do little to improve the educational lives of our children or even provide transparency in their expenditures. It’s all a bit cozy. Sadly, administrators have grown their take of your money over time and let smaller amounts accrue to the teachers in the classroom. Dr. Scafidi’s study, The School Staffing Surge, on how administrative staffing has grown over time in excess of student growth. In an upcoming “Coffee Talk”, we’ll cover the finances of education in Georgia and how they have hurt taxpayers, students and teachers all while benefiting the educational bureaucrats. Follow the money, indeed.