Let's go crazy for a second. Let's assume that the additional $500 million in state aid that the New Jersey Supreme Court demanded that the taxpayers provide to the 31 former "Abbott districts" will result in 1,000 more high school graduates from our city schools in June 2012 than we will have in June 2011. Do you think that would be a worthwhile result?
Now consider that we would be paying $500,000 per student - in that one year alone - to reach that goal. Does it still seem worth it? What if we thought we could increase the number of graduates by a whopping 10,000? Off the top of my head, there might be 25,000 seventeen-year-olds in the former Abbott districts. Would spending an additional $50,000 per student next year save those 10,000?
I know what you're thinking. The $500 million isn't just for juniors and seniors, it's for all the kids - and we can't expect results in just one year.
Well - we're not just talking about one year. We have been conducting this experiment for 25 years! And it is a colossal failure.
Now, you are going to hear critics state that increased spending doesn't equal increased student achievement. But that's not quite right either. I can say confidently that $1,000 per student in increased state aid to a district like Hillsborough (that would be $7.5 million total) would mean infinitely more than the $2,000, on average, that was just awarded to each Abbott student. Here, that money would produce real results - in Newark, Camden, et. al., increases in taxpayer funding have been shown to do nothing.
Hillsborough taxpayers, like those in the rest of suburban New Jersey, only want to see real results. If not equal to the results we see here, then at least something, anything!
[standard disclaimer: the views expressed above are my own and do not represent the opinion of the Hillsborough Township Board of Education]