School stimulus strings

Banks across the country have been paying back their TARP funds — the money the government forced them to take so that they’d ease restrictions on credit — because they didn’t like the strings that were attached, such as limits on CEO pay.

Might schools be next?

The U.S. Department of Education is requiring schools receiving stimulus funds to submit salary information for their employees.

What’s behind the move? An article in Education Week suggests the Obama administration is going to use the data to determine if schools that receive money to fight disparities are putting the most experienced — and, presumably, the best — teachers into the fight; that suggests some schools may be using the money for salaries of teachers who are assigned to portions of the district where so-called Title I resources aren’t supposed to go — the more well-off.

Stimulus money, however, is all a small slice of how inequities are created in schools. And it only deals with inequities within districts. The problem is far bigger than that, notes the Center for School Change at the University of Minnesota.

Because of the way schools are funded here, there’s a guaranteed “inequality” built in from one district to the next. Some voters vote to increase spending,some don’t. Director Joe Nathan cites several examples of the have/have-not result:

Anoka Hennepin will be able to spend $165

Rushford Peterson will be able to spend $940/pupil

South St. Paul will spend $1010/pupil

Wayzata will spend $1609/pupil

Ulen Hitterdahl will spend $1990/pupil.

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