Furlough Friday

Hearing Notice


Senator Brian Taniguchi, Chair
Senator Will Espero, Vice Chair


DATE: Friday, October 30, 2009
TIME: 12:30 p.m.

PLACE: Auditorium
State Capitol
415 South Beretania Street


The purpose of this meeting is to receive public input regarding the options available to address the issue of teacher furloughs and the loss of instructional days in our public schools.

Testimony will be limited to 4 minutes per person. Written testimony is highly recommended and can be emailed to senespero@capitol.hawaii.gov . Please indicate the measure, date and time of the meeting.

In person: 1 copy of their testimony to the committee clerk, Room 207, State Capitol.
By fax: Testimony may be faxed if less than 5 pages in length, to the Senate Sergeant-At-Arms Office at 586-6659 or 1-800-586-6659 (toll free for neighbor islands), at least 24 hours prior to the meeting. When faxing, please indicate to which committee the testimony is being submitted and the date and time of the meeting.

If you require special assistance or auxiliary aids and/or services to participate in the meeting (i.e., sign language interpreter or wheelchair accessibility), please contact the Committee Clerk at 586-6823 to make a request for arrangements at least 24 hours prior to the meeting. Prompt requests help to ensure the availability of qualified individuals and appropriate accommodations.

For further information, please call the Committee Clerk at 586-6823.

To: Special Senate Committee to Consider Approaches to Teacher Furloughs
From: Malcolm Kirkpatrick
In re: DOE budget

How the DOE can address the projected revenue shortfall depends on what caused the shortfall. If the shortfall is a natural (though extreme) instance of the business cycle, then it might make sense to use special funds, like the hurricane relief fund. If government policy caused the downturn in business activity then it is reasonable to suppose that legislators and government administrators must address problems in government policy. Regardless, the Legislature has an obligation to use tax revenues effectively and to avoid waste.

Here are two links to US government sources of school system finance data. Search "Public Elementary-Secondary Finance Data".

This source gives a Hawaii DOE total revenue figure for fiscal year 2007 (latest available) of $2, 985,593,000.00 and a 2007 enrollment of 180, 728 (Table 1). The table calls this figure "total revenues", whcih would include construction (capital improvements) and gives a per-pupil budget of $16,519.00. By some magic of accounting, the table gives a per-pupil budget of $11,060.00. This table also contains a figure for total current expenditures of $2,199, 604.00.

This source gives a "total revenues (2007)" figure of $2,950,803.00. Search "Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary Education: School Year 2006-07 (Fiscal Year 2007)".

One response which the legislature might consider is load shedding. Just as a hospital in a budget pinch could save money through greater use of outpatient care, the DOE could reduce costs to taxpayers by reducing the age at which students may take the GED. In Switzerland, students may leave school for apprenticeship programs after sixth grade. In Germany, students who intend a non-academic career may leave school before the end of Hocshule, for aprenticeship programs. It does not take 12 years at $15,000/pupil-year to teach a normal child to read and compute. Most vocational training occurs more effectively on the job than in a classroom.

The DOE could reduce its demands on taxpayers by adopting policies more friendly to homeschoolers. Richard Arkwright was homeschooled. James Hargreaves was homeschooled. Thomas Highs was homeschooled. Thomas Edison was homeschooled. Bertrand Russel was homeschooled. Yehudi Menuhin was homeschooled. Benjamin Franklin attended school for two years and apprenticed at age 12. Abraham Lincoln attended school sporadically for two years. David Farragut joined the US Navy at 9, went to sea at 11, and commanded his first ship at 15. Robert Fitzroy, the Beagle captain who took Charles Darwin around the world and founded the British Weather Service attended the Admiralty school from age 12 to 14 and went to sea.

I tutored Eugene So from 3rd through 6th grade. His parents homeschooled him after 7th grade, which meant that they went to work and Eugene went up to the University and sat in on Math classes. He took the GRE before he turned 17 and entered the UH Math program as a graduate student. He earned his MS (Math) before he turned 19. He skipped high school and college, and saved Hawaii taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars.

Short of radical modifications to compulsory attendance policies, I suggest that the Legislature eliminate programs (and staff) outside of school complexes, such as the Ellison Onizuka Space Center and the Teacher Standards Board. The Space Center is dead weight, and the Teacher Standards Board inflicts evpensive and counter-productive credential requirements across the DOE.

Cutting non-school programs, however, is like looking for quarters under the sofa cushions. You will likely not find enough to cover the shortfall. It will also be politically difficult, as the people who occupy these high-paid, do-nothing jobs got these jobs in the first place through political clout.

"What works?" is an empirical question which only an experiment can answer. Numerous small school districts or a competitive market in education services will provide more information than will a State-monopoly school district. A State-monopoly provider is like an experiment with one treatment and no controls, a retarded experimental design. The Legislature put itself in this box when it allowed Senator Sakamoto to kill decentralization in conference. The Legislature nailed the box shut when it killed the Governor's decentralization proposal and passed Act 51, which further centralized DOE functions. I cannot honestly say that I sympathize with your discomfort, as the Majority has for years sacrificed students, parents, taxpayers, and real classroom teachers to politically connected construction contractors and to the HSTA/HGEA/UPW/UHPA cartel.

Whatever the legislature decides, it will likely not solve the problem of the revenue shortfall or of waste in the Hawaii DOE. Hawaii (and the US) has not hit bottom yet and the parasites responsible will ride this collapsing enterprise into the ground. Parents should homeschool. This does not require that parents sacrifice an income. Nothing in Hawaii Revised Statutes requires that homeschool instruction occur between 8 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. It is perfectly legal to extend daycare to age 18.

Thank you for this chance to testify.

The legislature will raise the General Excise Tax. Revenues will continue to drop, as Arthur Laffer would predict.


College Costs

In a small way, Harriet has participated in a discussion of college costs. Though a theoretical separetion of the concepts of K-12 and post-secondary schooling may not hold (each industry sustains the other), Harriet contends that the post-secondary education industry is more corrupt (though less destructive) than the K-12 education industry.

Neal McCluskey piqued Harriet's interest with this comment. Harriet commented here on McCluskey's objection to college support. McCluskey responded here. Harriet is mulling a rebuttal.

Cato initiated the most recent iteration of the ongoing discussion with a forum on college costs. A Professor of Education rose in defense of her employer: The Education Optimists: New Tune, Same Stupid Key and Neal McCluskey addressed these objections here. Harriet left the following comment on the professor's blog. It has not survived moderation (evidently--as of 2009-10-09-1837 GMT it has not appeared).
I would add a few comments on the language used in this discussion.

1) You call educational freedom "the freedom not to be helped by the government".

"Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun"--Mao Tse Tung

Eduardo Zambrano
"Formal Models of Authority: Introduction and Political Economy Applications"
Rationality and Society, May 1999; 11: 115 - 138.
Aside from the important issue of how it is that a ruler may economize on communication, contracting and coercion costs, this leads to an interpretation of the state that cannot be contractarian in nature: citizens would not empower a ruler to solve collective action problems in any of the models discussed, for the ruler would always be redundant and costly. The results support a view of the state that is eminently predatory, (the ? MK.) case in which whether the collective actions problems are solved by the state or not depends on upon whether this is consistent with the objectives and opportunities of those with the (natural) monopoly of violence in society. This conclusion is also reached in a model of a predatory state by Moselle and Polak (1997). How the theory of economic policy changes in light of this interpretation is an important question left for further work.
The government of a locality is the largest dealer in interpersonal violence in that locality (definition). The State (government, generally) cannot subsidize education without a definition of "education", but then students, parents (in the case of pre-college education), teachers, and taxpayers are bound by the State's definition. Tax-supported tuition "help" comes at great cost, in money, in time (e.g., the expansion of required core curricula, the proliferation of classroom-required occupational licensure), and in the opportunity cost to society of the lost innovation which a competitive market in education services would generate.

2) "Ideological" is an uncomplimentary way to say "systematic" (the antonym is "scatter-brained").

3) "Simplistic" is academicese for "stupid". William of Occam cautioned long ago against unnecessary complications. To people of an instrumental bent, simplicity is usually a virtue.