Monday, October 26, 2015

Louisiana constitution protects public schools.... and decimates public universities.

Louisiana provides a horrifying glimpse at what can happen when something is protected in the state constitution.  Unfortunately for Mississippi, too few people want to open their eyes and get that glimpse. The idea of looking at what happened to other states that placed public schools into a budget lockbox has rarely entered the current debate over Initiative 42. Such a self-absorbed lot, are we. The Louisiana constitution "protects" secondary and public education - at the expense of everything else. Supporters of historically black colleges and even LSU cringe every time there is a budget crunch as higher education suffers while public schools are shielded from budget cuts. The Louisiana constitution states:

§13. Funding; Apportionment

(B) Minimum Foundation Program. The State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, or its successor, shall annually develop and adopt a formula which shall be used to determine the cost of a minimum foundation program of education in all public elementary and secondary schools as well as to equitably allocate the funds to parish and city school systems. Such formula shall provide for a contribution by every city and parish school system. Prior to approval of the formula by the legislature, the legislature may return the formula adopted by the board to the board and may recommend to the board an amended formula for consideration by the board and submission to the legislature for approval. The legislature shall annually appropriate funds sufficient to fully fund the current cost to the state of such a program as determined by applying the approved formula in order to insure a minimum foundation of education in all public elementary and secondary schools. Neither the governor nor the legislature may reduce such appropriation, except that the governor may reduce such appropriation using means provided in the act containing the appropriation provided that any such reduction is consented to in writing by two-thirds of the elected members of each house of the legislature. ....

Whenever the legislature fails to approve the formula most recently adopted by the board, or its successor, the last formula adopted by the board, or its successor, and approved by the legislature shall be used for the determination of the cost of the minimum foundation program and for the allocation of funds appropriated. Copy of Section 13.
This section is direct and provides more specific mandates than does Initiative 42 but the central premise is the same: The legislature must support a minimum level of support for public education.  Louisiana can not cut funding for public schools unless two-thirds of the legislature agrees to reduce said spending. The chances of getting two-thirds of the legislature to agree to reduce education spending is as likely as Edwin Edwards going without a trophy wife.

There is no way to sugarcoat it: Section 13 had been nothing short of a disaster for Louisiana public universities and colleges.   Section 13 means that the budget pain is much worse for LSU, Grambling, and other universities than if it was shared by everyone.  Some are more equal than others, you understand.   Grambling's budget was cut by more than 50% in the last ten years.  The News Star (Gannett) reported two years ago:

(Grambling President Frank) Pogue added that the university as a whole has lost more than half of its state funding over the last eight years, and additional revenue will need to be generated to keep athletics' funding at the current level. Article. 
 Indeed, the Times-Picayune ( reported earlier this year

Higher education is a big target because there are very few portions of the state budget that can be cut as easily thanks to legal constraints voted into the Louisiana constitution.

Many other areas for spending are locked in more than higher education. To shift money away from certain protected spending categories -- such as funding for nursing homes -- requires a two-thirds majority vote of the Legislature, a high bar to clear. No such bar exists for cutting funding to colleges and universities.

The cuts to higher education may be particularly dramatic next year because Louisiana voted to protect another portion of the state health care budget in November. During the next fiscal session, as the state faces at least a $1.4 billion shortfall, the Legislature will have very few places they can cut funding -- leaving colleges and universities more vulnerable.

Louisiana has cut its higher education funding more than almost every other state, according to a few think tanks and organizations who examine college and university funding. Article.
It also reported in 2014 that Louisiana cut nearly half a BILLION dollars from higher education since 2008:

Between fiscal years 2008 and 2012, Louisiana cut its annual higher ed budget by more than $459 million, a decrease of 28 percent. Only South Carolina (30.39 percent) and Arizona (32.25 percent) saw a larger change in total state funding for public colleges and universities, the report said. Article.
The newspaper also reported

Higher education has already been subjected to cuts in state funding over the last seven years. The state's general fund support for higher education has dropped 46 percent since the 2007-2008 school year, according to the Louisiana House Budget Office.

Lawmakers have generally offset these slashes in funding to public colleges and universities by increasing tuition and fees. But now that a large portion of health care funding will be locked away, it's likely that higher education funding will be on the chopping block more significantly. Article
It is not fear-mongering to point out what has happened in other states thanks to constitutional protections for public schools.  Such constitutional clauses pump up public schools while punishing public universities.  Check the numbers  in Louisiana.  Louisiana universities faced even more cuts this year after voters passed two constitutional amendments last year that took Medicaid off of the budget-cutting table. Article.  Mr. Barksdale never mentions LSU's fate under Section 13.  The Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus somehow ignores what has happened to Grambling while it pushes Initiative 42.  Empirical evidence and actual experience is damned and forgotten because WE HAVE GOT TO DO SOMETHING AND DO IT NOW!!!

Initiative 42 doesn't say anything about cuts.  All it states is:

To protect each child's fundamental right to educational opportunity, the State shall provide for the establishment, maintenance and support of an adequate and efficient system of free public schools. The chancery courts of this State shall have the power to enforce this section with appropriate injunctive relief.
Adequate and efficient are NOT defined in this provision.  The above paragraph will be the only language that is inserted into the state constitution.  "Establishment, maintenance, and support" are not defined as well.  A court will be able to write what it thinks adequate or support means upon a nice clean sheet of paper because there is nothing in Initiative 42 that tells him what he can or can not write. It literally gives a court Carte Blanche to "protect" "an adequate system of free public schools.    Luther Mumford is a very sharp attorney and knew what he was doing when he wrote this initiative in such a vague manner.

There will be good times and bad times as state revenues rise and fall.  Always have been, always will be. Some will say such a proposition misrepresents Initiative 42.  However, there is nothing in the language that states a court* can't reverse budget cuts if it determines said cuts will harm the "support of an adequate and efficient system of free public schools"? 

Initiative 42 supporters are taking a stand and planting their flag on the battlefield of education.  However, they close their eyes and refuse to discuss the consequences of what will happen if their little project becomes enshrined in the Mississippi Constitution.  They accuse opponents of fear mongering if they mention the consequences of changing the constitution.

It is not fear mongering to tell people what will happen if one area of the budget is protected from budget reality.  It will ensure that tough times are tougher for some than others.  One doesn't need a PhD in Economics or be a CPA to understand that sparing one part of the budget means other parts will suffer even more.  Medicaid.  Ole Miss.  Jackson State.  UMMC.  Prisons.  Drug Courts. You get the idea.  All were suffer even more if we ignore what happens in Louisiana and place public schools into a lockbox.   A lockbox that has crippled higher education in our neighboring state.   Ignore Louisiana at Mississippi's peril. 

*Court can mean chancery court or appeals court for the purposes of this discussion.


For The Children said...

However; the strength and power doesn't lie with school officials, children, even the state department of education and their ineffective lobbyists. Those folks all (especially the children) are first to feel the axe. This is evidenced by the fact that the system has NEVER been funded.

Anonymous said...

I'm quite shocked.
You have totally overlooked that unlike K-12, colleges and universities have other sources of funding during state budget cutbacks. Indeed, they have employees whose only job is to raise funds!
That Louisiana is your example when LSU rebuilt their stadium and other multi-million dollar projects during the worst economic period in years is indicative of the ability of colleges and universities to turn to their alums and supporters and get to get grants.
LSU brags about their top 100 Tiger businesses that in turn have become sources of support for LSU!
I think you need to consider that those students who arrive at college without adequate educational preparation either fail to graduate or else it takes them much longer.
And,you haven't considered how the Napoleonic Code affects how differently Louisiana functions at every turn. It's not a state to compare with other states in terms of how systems work.
If not fear mongering, this is poorly thought out, inadequately researched and unworthy of you , KF.

Anonymous said...

Funny... Initiative 42 has a lot of support in our universities. I agree with 5:39, clearly a scare tactic.

Anonymous said...

It is very personal with this JJ troll:

I'm quite shocked.

You have totally overlooked ...

That Louisiana is your example ...

I think you need to consider ...

And, you haven't considered how the Napoleonic Code ...

If not fear mongering, this is poorly thought out, inadequately researched and unworthy of you , KF.

Anonymous said...

There's no better way to be sure your children grow up to be trash than to put them in the public school system.

Anonymous said...

Like highways, most states have over-built their higher ed. Highways and universities are seen as the way to attract industry and jump start economic development. However the benefits never materialized in Mississippi and we have bypasses and divided 4 lane highways in the backwoods. We have colleges that aspire to being research universities. We have to teach the basics first. Unless you want to teach the basics in college? Do we really need eight universities in this state?

Anonymous said...

Public school system is just part on the welfare program. It gives a made up job to those who do not want to really work.

See the problem? said...

8:00a.m. -- Hush yo' mouth. Do we really need eight universities in this state? That's eight football teams. Yeah, we need them. How else are the "athletes' who can't read or write going to get a college education? And besides where else would those "professors" find work?

And to 7:38 a.m. -- I'm happy your kids can go to a prep school or academy, but most parents can not afford these schools. So, continue to look down on those less fortunate and call them "trash.' I'll bet you sit in the front pew on Sunday and sing long and loud and tell everyone you are a Christian. God help us all!

Anonymous said...

Schools are the site of the class divide. It is where values are taught and class identities are formed. Public schools do provide welfare and education. Schools could be the site for all kinds of state-sponsored interventions. However our schools don't connect with mental health services very well. Kids get free lunches, but mental health services--rarely. If they did, more at-risk kids would stay the course if they had these types of assessments, support and referrals. Now they just get special ed. then the boot. Rich kids in private schools get more attention and a whole blanket of support.

Anonymous said...

42 basically asks voters to enshrine permanent budget rules in the constitution, rather than deciding priorities on a case-by-case basis. That would be a bad idea even if we knew what those budget rules would be.

But we don't.

The rules will be made at some undetermined future date by the Mississippi Supreme Court, which has neither the expertise nor the staff to speak intelligently on the subject. Consequently, if you vote for 42, you are voting to enshrine "What's Behind Door Number 2" as a permanent constitutional rule for state budgets.

The idea is insane on its face. That should be the end of the debate.

Anonymous said...

Didn't LSU nearly go bankrupt recently?

Anonymous said...

8:17 is probably from a podunk small town who went to a "private" school with worse academics than my public school.


Anonymous said...

@8:00 a.m., and how many junior colleges (with multiple campuses, and football, baseball and basketball teams, and stadiums) does Mississippi need?

Anonymous said...

Mississippi needs about a dozen junior colleges and no more than four colleges.

Anonymous said...

The ends never justify the means. That said, results never justify the path to the results.

You, individually, might not care about someone else's freedom and rights, but collectively, decisions must be made that protect, not limit them.

Public education is not a right. As a prosperous, free country, we should try to educate our children but this idea that everyone is equal in forms of acuity and ability is antithesis to a true educational process. Public schools sacrifice the more capable learner in the name of equality (not racial, ethnic or sexual). Equality in the form that since it's "public", the dumb kid should have the same opportunity to learn as the smart kid. Noble, if it were true that one can overcome complete nature with nurture.

Everyone can not be rocket surgeons. Someone has to collect the garbage, dig the ditches, sell the cars, design the freeways, grow the food, work on the cars, etc. The U.S. order of society has been killed by the notion that everyone should have higher education and killing ambition through overeducation. Couple that with the enormous red tape and hindrance to bring any new idea to market, and you get the eroding of the middle class.

Johnny Weir said...

Well said 10:01 AM
Here is a shorten version of 10:01 thought.

"Everyone chews on the bones of equality and throws the meat of ability out the window."


"The ones with the best ability should be fertilized and the rest culled" to meat & potatoes job.
Fun Fact
State intervention at work in New Jersey: You CAN'tpump your own gas. (Against the Law) This creates jobs for the less gifted child.

Anonymous said...

10:01 says "Everyone can not be rocket surgeons. Someone has to collect the garbage, dig the ditches, sell the cars, design the freeways, grow the food, work on the cars, etc."

But, shouldn't everyone have the opportunity to chose their place in the "U.S. social order" as you put it? By disparately supporting education in poor and minority communities, the place in the social order for the poor and minority citizen is not chosen by the citizen as much as it is prescribed by the institutions and social structures that govern and characterize the environment in which these citizens live and grow.

One cannot talk about an "American Dream" and true market competition for resources as long as the educational training is so disparate in different communities. Educational policy is cannot be predicated on so called individual "acuity and ability", for those traits are subjective and immeasurable (with any real certainty). What education policy can do is look at opportunities for growth and development of citizens through investments in education and note that this growth and development are vital in economic and community development.

Anonymous said...

10:42 Let's try investments in education that aren't financial...if I see that
occurring then maybe we can discuss $$$.

Anonymous said...

Ah...the truth at last...the lack of support of public education.

The irony is few in Mississippi would have any education if not for public education!

Unless you were born with a silver spoon ( and few had them after the Civil War), your parents couldn't have privately educated you.

Too bad too many of you have such a poor education that you don't know those who were born poor, earned scholarships to college, and now give you a JOB!

Anonymous said...

Forbid that any student would have to pay tuition!

3672 per semester at Ole Miss
4400 per semester at LSU
about 7 grand a semester at the University of Michigan
about 8 grand a semester at Penn State University

SO...16,677 could pay 1k more a semester, 2k more a year...would raise 33+ extra a year.

The problem is--people in this state think higher education should be free. There are plenty of good jobs that require vocational training. We should encourage people to become HVAC technicians, technology repair, and the like...

Anonymous said...

42 is a money and power grab - nothing more. When you start hearing a program, initiative, or legislative change defended with, "its for the sake of the children" grab your wallet. NO ONE has defined what is "fully funded". Who makes that decision? What data is used to define a fully funded status? If the education bunch gets to make that call, heaven help us. If the democrats who have never seen a funding program they didn't like make the call, heaven help us. If the courts gets to make the call, heaven help us. We have a legislature. If you don't like what they fund then get off your ass and get someone elected that supports your position. Oldest Democrat trick in the book, get the courts to do what you cannot get done by popular support.

The Acronym HBCU Is Racist In Itself said...

Those of us who are over 45 and lived here, remember when the number of universities in this state suddenly went from THREE to SEVEN. In an effort to elevate DSC (formerly DSTC) to DSU status, a deal had to be made with members of the black caucus (and other influential true believers) to also elevate the three HBCUs.

Thus, as with many public school districts, we wound up with several that should have been put administratively under others and three of which that should never have been reclassified.

Has nothing to do with race. There was no need for MVSC to begin with but black legislators wanted a 'place of our own' in the Delta, so they got it. Should have been a branch of DSC which had existed for a century. And Alcorn should have been a branch of JSU, or vice versa. But.....NO!

Anonymous said...

The sky is falling!! The sky is falling!! Stop Initiative 42. Stop Common Core!!

Anonymous said...

We are focused on 42 here, but 33 children/students in the student government at Ole Miss today, along with the INTERIM chancellor just gave the taxpayers of 'Mississippi the finger! The university is STATE property. You don't like the flag then organize the taxpayers of Mississippi to support your position. Taking unilateral unlawful action just serves to piss-off those of us who pay large amounts in state tax that primarily funds that STATE owned institution. The same will happen if 42 passes. Whatever they want they will get by temper tantrum or the use of courts.

Anonymous said...

Maybe a little "funding decimation" of UM, USM, MSU and the rest of the pigs on the state sugar tit is in order. They are STATE owned and taxpayer funded operations. They apparently think they are independent operators who report only to themselves. Cut their funding. They have more money than they need if they feel so empowered they can tell the MS taxpayer to go srcrew themselves. Demand they fly the flag if they want the money. Show me where they have seen ANY ill affect in enrollment or program funding because of our state flag. They cannot because they are actually increasing enrollment and funding!

Anonymous said...

Hey 10:01, please tell us what a "rocket surgeon" does? Where in the "U.S. order of society" can I apply for a job performing surgeries on rockets? I was educated in public school, so up until now, I was too ignorant to have known that was a thing.

Careful, please don't let facts get in the way of your bashing of adequately funding education.

Anonymous said...

"Everyone can not be rocket surgeons." Bwhahahahahahahahahahahaha.

As classic as "Get a Brain Morans."


I guess you should have gone to public school.

Webster Unleashed said...

'Rocket Surgeon' is a long accepted and well played tongue-in-cheek, intentional misnomer used to tweak the audience and invoke a golf clap. You stupid shits just don't get it.

Studies By Candlelight said...

I wish there were a way to determine the validity of my theory, which goes like this: A large percentage of those who support 42 is simply the liberal, progressive crowd who favors the unrestricted growth in girth and capacity of the federal and state tits.

They really, really assume (and rightfully so) that with the passage of 42, we will see three squares a day (summer, winter and fall) expanded to housing upgrades to accommodate home study, technological tools provided to the home of each public school student, transportation vouchering, vouchers for televisions that come with contracts for PBS and such, payment for tudors and funding to send parents to classes.

And we thought 'midnight basketball' was a crock of shit.

Brain Engineer (ret.) said...

2:30 and 3:07,

If you are too stupid to figure out "rocket surgeon", google it. Perhaps you'll learn that there is a bigger life out there than your tiny existence.

Some publicly educated individuals have even made t-shirts.

Some people try too hard to make life hard.

Anonymous said...

It should not take 12 years to prepare for adulthood. The purpose of education is to make adults who are literate and capable of earning a living. The political purpose is to build sports-oriented communities that generate adult memories. Higher education is the same.

Anonymous said...

4:45 is correct - it should not take 12 years. Adolescence as a concept was developed in the 19th century. Suggest all those that want to throw more money at a failing education system read the following:

Yea yea, it's Newt Ginrich, but he does have some unique ideas that should be discussed and debated. What we are doing now sure isn't working. Graduation rates in many high schools across the state are less than 50% and no amount of money is going to fix the problem. The problem is as much cultural as educational. And MS is not the only place we see a failed education system; a nationwide problem.

Anonymous said...

Its impossible to teach kids that sportsmanship is the highest value when the society lives the principle 'winner takes all'. Win this game or its over for your coach. Get a 'B+' or you have to pay for your own education. Get a 'C' or its over for your teacher.

Anonymous said...

Louisiana is not in the fiscal trouble because of the funding of public education but because of Jindall. Higher education funding is suffering because of the massive give a ways of state funds through tax credits($250 million in film tax credits alone. These are tax credits not allowable tax deductions). To blame the Louisiana Higher education on public education funding required by the constitution is not only irresponsible, it is also untrue. Besides k-12 education there are many other designated funding requirements in the constitution. The last legislative session in Louisiana was a total disaster because of Jindall and the power that is vested in the executive branch. Even the republican controlled legislature realized the problems and placed a bandaid on the problems until a new governor is sworn in in January.

Anonymous said...

Merge the 3 SWAC schools, shut down MUW, move Delta State in the UM system, and eliminate 5 or 6 JUCOs. Boom.

Bus The Chancelor said...

Delta State is closer to MSU than to OM, 7:34. But, what's the criteria for the move you suggest? Plus, Delta State is a very conservative school, one which didn't even allow female staff and students to wear pants until forty years ago. You people have been ranked highly in Playboy's Party Schools for generations. And your rules are determined either by a chancellor or a group of 30 teenagers. You people already have a medical school that you have no association with whatever. Make OM a branch of The U. of Memphis.

Anonymous said...

8:19, funny you said that as I am a USM alum, not an Ole Miss alum. I'd be fine with MSU taking in Delta State in their system, but you are incorrect in your statement that Starkville is closer to Cleveland than Oxford.

Case REMANDED! ... said...

That goofy, Musgrove appointed Supreme Court judge pulls a little 'slight of hand' and minces his words carefully. He boasts of his years on the bench and has a booming voice and frightening eye-contact.

And he carefully says 42 will not allow any judge in Hinds County to decide how money will be spent....that's the pervue of school boards. True....but he was attempting to trick us. He DID NOT say that 42 does not give a Hinds County judge the ability to demand the flow of money.

Appeals aside, 42 will do that. And this old bag of wind knew it.

PittPanther said...

You guys might be correct, maybe MS does have too many universities. But why are you looking at the small schools for consolidation? Let's make a big impact, and consolidate the big schools.

Ole Miss, MSU, SMU - pick one. Close the other two or make them branch campuses. We can even call it the University of Mississippi system, UMiss for short. UMiss Oxford, UMiss Starkville, and UMiss Hattiesburg. Then we can have UMiss Jackson, UMiss Alcorn, etc.

Anonymous said...

Penn State-Pittsburgh has a higher chance of being created than UM-Starkville or MSU-Oxford.
Channeling Charlton Heston:
"You can pry my cowbell/rebel flag from my cold dead hands."
Oops, bad half-example.

Anonymous said...

Well said 7:29pm

PittPanther said...

1:15pm, you are exactly right. So if Ole Miss and/or MSU are not willing to consolidate, why would anyone think that the smaller schools are going to willingly combine? And with Mississippi's reputation, you are not going to be allowed to combine the black schools and leave the white schools untouched.

It's a non starter.

Anonymous said...

Merging UM/USM/MSU could work. Something like 45k students, and all the MS athletes could go to 1 school instead of splitting the pot 2 or 3 different ways.

PittPanther said...

I say merge the big 3 schools in MS. The resulting football and baseball teams would be awesome. And academically, the school might make it into the top 100.

Combine THIS... said...

9:54; You seem satisfied to split hairs over the distance between colleges, as if that matters. Otherwise, what is your reasoning for suggesting that Delta State should be combined with Ole Miss?

PS: You need a map.

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