The “65 percent solution” idea, brainchild of the founder of Overstock.com has caught on in Republican circles. Basically, the idea is that school districts should spend 65 percent of their dollars in the classroom. It’s arbitrary sure, but sounds sensible enough if you don’t know much or care much about school finance which explains its allure for Republican activists in most states.
Standard and Poor’s, who do something about finance, weigh-in with an evenhanded analysis (pdf) that basically shows that it’s a boneheaded idea (though S & P doesn’t use that exact term). There is no relationship between percentage of spending on various categories and achievement and it’s difficult to disentangle instructional and non-instructional expenses anyway in terms of their benefits to kids. There are certainly plenty of efficiencies that could be squeezed out of the current system but this isn’t the way to get there.
Incidentally, the real point of this thing is apparently to try to sow discord between school district administrators and teachers’ unions over this idea. Not going to happen. Apparently these guys don’t get politics either.