Saturday, March 22, 2014

"Good Ole John" Huppenthal Put State Money Where His Voucher-Robocall Mouth Is

Posted By on Sat, Mar 22, 2014 at 1:00 PM

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Our Ed Supe, "Good Ole John" Huppenthal, has spent $900,000 a year more on our vouchers-on-steroids bill, euphemistically titled Empowerment Scholarship Accounts, than the law allows by giving some students between $1,684 and $1,963 more than they should have received.

We need to rewrite Huppenthal's voucher-friendly robocall to reflect his generosity. He said, if you remember, "You may be able to send your child to private school for free!" He should have added, "And I'm gonna give you an extra two, thousand, dollars!" To which a happy mother exclaims, "Thank you, Good Ole John!"

Republicans recently added a funding amendment to their attempt to expand the voucher bill. Currently, students moving from charters to vouchers get more money than students moving from district schools because charter schools get more state money per student. Republicans wrote the language that way so they could declare the bill revenue neutral. Now that the voucher program is established, they have no problem with it costing the state more than sending kids to public schools.

But Huppenthal admitted through his spokesman, he's been giving that extra money to students all along, saying that the bill's current language is "muddled." It may sound muddled to someone who thinks "Superintendent of Public Instruction" means the same thing as "Superintendent of Instruction for the Public" — it doesn't — but in this retired English teacher's reading, the clear intent of the original bill is to have two different funding levels.

The current wording states voucher students will receive:

an amount that is equivalent to ninety per cent of the sum of the base support level and additional assistance prescribed in sections 15‑185 and 15‑943 for that particular student, if that student were attending a charter school.

If the original bill meant to give all students the same amount of funding, the phrase, "if that student were attending a charter school" would be unnecessary.

If the amended language is passed (the crossed-out words are omitted and the all-caps words are added), students will receive:

an amount that is equivalent to ninety per cent of the sum of the base support level and additional assistance prescribed in sections 15‑185 and SECTION 15‑943 for that particular student, if that student were attending a charter school PLUS THE AMOUNT OF ADDITIONAL ASSISTANCE PRESCRIBED IN SECTION 15‑185.

This time the reference to charter schools is taken out, meaning all students will get the higher amount.

If Huppenthal was truly confused about the meaning of the passage, he could have consulted a legal expert. But he preferred to be "Good Ole John" and play fast and loose with taxpayer money.

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