Given the stakes in something like the education funding formula rewrite, can we not get a better effort at cooperation?
If you’ve listened very closely to the education funding formula debate the last year or so, barely audible under the din, nearly all parties have at one point or another said they agree in overall principle: Student-based funding, weighted for special needs, is a good way to fund public education.
With that as a basis, and what appeared to be a reputable hired consultant giving advice, one might have thought a bipartisan measure, generally acceptable to education advocates, could be hashed out.
But that’s not how public education policy works in Mississippi.
As I’ve said before, setting education policy is a partisan, geographic and socioeconomic fight in Mississippi, and the warring factions offer no quarter, even when they agree on things. More often, they lawyer up and sue, create PACs and petition drives and hire lobbyists.
Lawmakers might work together across the aisle or other divides to land a Nissan or Toyota plant or to reform criminal justice. But education policy? Heck no. Send lawyers guns and money, as the late, great Warren Zevon would say.
For starters, the GOP leadership has treated ed funding rewrite work like it was the plans for the Normandy invasion — top secret, we’ll let you look at it when it’s time to vote. Some key explanations are still lacking, such as why it lacks a specific way to determine per-student base funding and why one could not be included in the bill, considering it is, well, a formula.