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My school bus was a Schwinn

Like Will Rogers, most of what I know is what I've read in the newspapers. Thus, I know that Vermont's education commissioner wants to cut public education spending by -gasp!-2 percent or $23 million.

The commissioner has ever so cautiously suggested that Vermont's schools, with lowest-in-the-nation pupil/teacher ratios (and the smallest class sizes as well as lowest-in-the-nation pupil-staff ratios that approach cruiseship passenger-crew proportions) be modestly adjusted upwards.

With a little math previously recited here, it works out to a seat or two in a class of 11. The usual suspects have responded in the usual ways with Rutland Superintendent Mary Moran claiming her schools are "excellent" and a former Rutland Northeast superintendent lauding the "very high achievement" of the state's schools and students-both in blithe dismissal of grim reality-the NAEP test score results for Vermont.

About two-thirds of Vermont's young charges can't function at grade level in math and reading and therefore can't be labeled "proficient". The howls of denial and protest have reverberated under Vermont's Golden Dome and I'd wager that staffing reductions to capture the budgetary $23 million cost-savings-in one of fastest-in-the-nation enrollment decline environment-just ain't gonna happen.

Quite the opposite: the latest argument for pre-K is that the new staffers' paychecks serve as an economic stimulus to the larger economy-at a ratio of $1 invested for $7 in multiplier-effect. Progressive economist Lord Maynard Keynes would have been proud of this innovative math.

Here's an alternative to consider:

Student transportation expenses vary substantially from one Vermont district to another; the state education department chooses not to publish statewide data, lest the data be subject to undesired outside analysis; however, we have some not-too-stale data from the 2008 National Digest of Educational Statistics, Table 177, for the 2005-6 school year, when Vermont-the second smallest state population-wise-spent $40.5 million on school bussing.

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