A lot of discussion and debate has occurred over the MAEP and the Ballot 42 Initiative. I am writing this post to clear up a couple of issues, that have not been accurately conveyed (IMO) to the masses or may not be understood.
WHY WAS THE MAEP CREATED?
Mississippi already had a method of determining education funding for districts statewide prior to the implementation of the MAEP. The MAEP was a reform to the former Mississippi Minimum Education Program of funding as a means of providing equitable funding for all schools districts statewide. It was not created because our state lacked a method of determining funding. It was created to reform the way we funded as a way of helping the poorer districts in our state.
Read the following quotes from some official state documents and PEER reviews.
“The MAEP operates like a guaranteed yield plan and was designed to bring lower performing school districts up to an expenditure level of an adequately performing school district.” – page 1
“The purpose of reforming the state=s basic support program was to increase equity and to provide adequate funding for the poorer districts in the state.” – page 6
“Nature of the Program: Foundation. The Mississippi Adequate Education Program was first implemented in 1998. Prior to 1998, the state=s basic support program was called the Minimum Education Program (MEP) which was a modified Strayer-Haig foundation program. The MEP had been in operation since 1953. The MAEP is a cost-based program that guarantees to all school districts in the state a level of per-pupil funding associated with a sample of school districts whose performance has been determined Aadequate@ within the state=s accountability accreditation model. The purpose of reforming the state=s basic support program was to increase equity and to provide adequate funding for the poorer districts in the state.” – page 6
After reading this, how can anyone believe that high performing districts (such as DeSoto) with financial stability (like DeSoto) should or would be given more funding?! The implementation of the MAEP was not to give more money to already financially stable and academically successful districts but to aid the poorer, lower achieving districts in Mississippi.
Next, let me address the EFFICIENCY issue as mentioned in the Ballot 42 amendment. If you read the following quotes and review the following link, you will see efficiency discussed in one of the early PEER reports on the MAEP. It clearly states that efficiency was NOT accounted for in the MAEP. Read below.
“The MAEP funding formula selects average school districts to calculate the base student cost, but does not determine whether these districts are performing efficiently.” – page 17
“The MAEP has the potential of funding more than “an adequate education” because it relies on data from all districts that produce adequate outcomes, including those that produce them inefficiently.” – page 17
Since 42 supporters seem to believe that the MAEP is the determining factor of adequate funding, I thought the above statement was important. It shows that the MAEP can, in fact, provide more than adequate funding for a district(s).
The report goes on to define efficiency.
“The definition of efficiency is the ratio of the effective use of output to total input in any system. In this case, “efficient” is defined as a district expending less to provide adequate instruction, administration, operation and maintenance, and ancillary support to produce students that perform adequately on Functional Literacy Test, the Performance Assessment for the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, and the Tests of Achievement and Proficiency, and for the Algebra I and U.S. History subject area tests. ” – page 17
Here again, the report states that efficient means a district spends less to provide adequate instruction, etc…………and that performs adequately on state tests.
After reading the above paragraph, how can anyone believe that DeSoto and certain other districts in the state meet the criteria of not being adequately funded? The purpose of MAEP was NOT to give financially stable and academically successful districts more and more. It was to help bridge the gap between the poorer, lower achieving districts and those that were high performing. Even if the 42 amendment were to pass and the state fully funded, the districts with the most need would still receive the least help. Districts like DeSoto would get the most money, and that does nothing to help the ones in real need.
The 42 amendment language is broad and not defined. Even if a judge used the original intent of the MAEP, how can anyone believe that ALL districts in the state would be or should be fully funded?! Just some food for thought.