Policy options available for Martinez
In his position as a Budget Director for Chicago Public School (CPS), Martinez can develop various policy paradigms. First, he has the power to determine the budgeting framework to be implemented. Hence, Martinez should come up with a policy framework on whether to use the average or actual teacher salaries; whether to allow schools to employ the teaching staff with little regard to the salary levels or let the schools employ teachers based on a mixed approach that focuses on meeting the schools’ per-pupil budget (Fowler 25).
In addition, Martinez has to develop a policy that will be used to determine whether to expand the budgeting system to cover the whole district or otherwise. There is also an urgent need to develop a policy framework on the formula to be used in determining the weights of students (Fowler 41).
A successful policy paradigm should possess each of the following aspects. First, a good policy should have an enabling purpose. In this case, the aims of the policy should be clear and feasible. It should also be linked to a wider objective, which helps the concerned individuals to focus on the main goals of the policy.
Further, the policy should have a clear ownership, meaning that the policy should not be imposed on the people against their will. A good policy must be short and concise to enable the concerned Stakeholders understand it and agree with its basic requirements (Fowler 17).
A good policy must also emanate from a valid process. In this regard, people should clearly understand the policy process. A policy should work within the restrictions of a certain authority so as to enable the relevant stakeholders to adopt and abide by the regulations of the policy framework. Adaptability and enforceability are also critical factors to check in a public policy. However, it is vital to note that no single policy is perfect. That is why policies require some amendments during implementation (Fowler 24).
Martinez aimed at achieving several things in his new role as a Budget Director for CPS. In general, he wanted to initiate an innovative budgeting scheme to be used within the Chicago Public Schools. Though a plan to direct Martinez towards achieving his goals seemed plausible, it is important to note that not all aspects of his dream are achievable. However, some can be attained in the process of vision implementation. In this case, it is logical to argue that, Martinez stands to achieve the pupil budgeting scheme, commonly known as the Weighted Student Formula (WSF), in providing a solution to the budgeting issue (Fowler 27).
However, he should be ready to face spirited opposition on his new formula to be used in budgetary allocation to schools. Although people are opposed to the WSF, Martinez should convince them of the benefits they can get if they accept and embrace the formula. In this case, he should assure the people that the formula will work and hence should stop worrying (Phinney 12).
The WSF without site-based management
The WSF can work in the appropriate manner even if it is not coupled with site-based management. As the data from the regions that have already adopted this formula in their budgetary allocation attests, it is clear that some schools have a chance to get more funding than they previously used to get. On the other hand, other schools would receive less funding than before. Veronica Anderson, the editor of Chicago Catalyst, points out that “per-pupil funding will mean less money for schools that enrol better-off kids, unless CPS factors something into the formula to offset the effect” (Phinney 10).
It should be noted that the Chicago Public School District is made up of different school categories. These categories are the Chartered schools owned by private and non-profit entities, but administered by the district. The schools, through the use the WSF, are in a position to gain much since they are usually underfunded (Phinney 10).
The implementation of the WSF would not benefit the small schools because of their small number of students. In other districts where implementation of WSF is manifested; like Houston, Seattle and Edmonton, this problem is addressed through the subsidies that are extended to the small schools, or through the gradual introduction of WSF over the years. The Chicago Public School District intends to use the same criteria found in the WSF plan.
Nonetheless, this approach has not been accepted in some quarters on the argument because it contributed to the introduction of the fundamental inequity and undue advantage to small schools. However, it is only through the approach that the disadvantage experienced by small schools would be addressed (Phinney 37).
Given the worries of the stakeholders in the implementation of the WSF, it was necessary for CPS to assure them ‘efficiency’ that the approach would introduce. Stakeholders felt that the subsidies of the small schools promoted inequity and only acted to make the 2010 proposed Renaissance functional. Also, the ‘Head teachers’ of various schools in the Chicago Public School District were sceptical of the new formula. Therefore, it was of great importance to persuade various stakeholders on the positive aspects of the WSF budgetary policy. Notably, the WSF formula was better than one previously advocated by the conventional approaches, in which the schools were rewarded basing on performance gains (Phinney 39).
School choice along with the WSF at the Renaissance Schools
The aspect of introducing school choice together with the WSF would present some challenges in the CPS. Although some proponents have argued that doing so would enhance accountability of the schools to parents, there is a likelihood of promoting segregation in schools. This is because families would obviously choose to have their children attend schools close to their home. This would promote segregation because, conventionally people settle in race-based clusters.
Integrating WSF and school choice in the name of promoting local control would be a forum of justifying inequality and segregation. Such a plan would be a gentrification strategy aimed at moving the minority groups from the real estate areas and catering for the interests of the developers. Those opposed to the plan argue that, “the reality is that the cause of a failed education system is a history of racism, lack of equal opportunity to learn, deindustrialization, and disinvestment in communities of color by corporate interest and banks with the support of political leaders” (Phinney 33).
Although the CPS administrators have made assurances to curb segregation in schools, it can be quite challenging given the situation. Arguably therefore, it does not make sense for the Renaissance Schools to introduce school choice alongside the WSF budget formula (Phinney 36).
The best way of implementation of the WSF
Deciding on the weights to be used has been a major challenge. In choosing the best equity, both horizontal and vertical equities must be applied. The horizontal equity refers to the equal treatment accorded to equals, whereas the vertical treatment refers to the suitable unequal treatment of those who are not equal. The implementation of the WSF was an example of ensuring horizontal equity. The achievement of vertical equity was also necessary to ensure that the general equity had been achieved (Phinney 36). This is important, but very contentious to implement.
In achieving vertical equity, the right base of funding rate for every student would be determined. This would be together with the weights determined by the needs of the students. In regard to the basic rates, their weights would be established basing on the amount that each district spends on each category of specific-needs students divided by the number of students in each group. The average numbers from each category would be turned into a ratio basing on the spending average for essential services in order to get the final weights.
Martinez had two ways of implementing the WSF. On one hand, he was to integrate the WSF with the school choice, which was so challenging in terms of its implementation. The other way of implementing the WSF was through integration of the aspect of teachers’ salaries during implementation. The proponents of this approach argued that it was the best in enhancing the schools’ accountability to parents, as opposed to the conventional system that made schools only accountable to the political class.
However, this was opposed by those individuals who perceived the integration of school choice as meant to promote segregation. In this case, it can be argued that, though the integration of WSF with school choice would bring local control, this will create way for inequality and segregation (Phinney 9).
The other way of implementing the WSF is by integrating it with the salary consideration of teachers. The bone of contention was on whether to use the average teacher salaries or the actual salaries while implementing the WSF formula. Many stakeholders seemed to agree on the use of average salaries in the implementation of the WSF (Fowler 16).
This was acceptable among those who subscribed to the WSF system arguing that the use of actual teacher salary would be controversial. It was argued that, if actual salaries are to be used, the school principals will favor the recruitment of young teachers who are cheap to maintain. The teachers’ unions also favored the use of average salaries. They argued that the use of actual salaries would not be good for senior teachers. This is because the senior teachers had spent a lot of time to enhance their level of compensation (Phinney 43).
However, those opposed to the use of average teachers’ pay argued that it hid inequalities, which were rampant within the Chicago Public School District. Therefore, it can be asserted that the best way of implementing the WSF was to integrate it with the average salary of the teachers in the district (Phinney 42).
Fowler, Frances. Policy studies for educational leaders: An introduction. New York: Prentice Hall, 2003, Print.
Phinney, Stephen. Defining equity: Implementing the weighted student formula in Chicago public schools. New York: University of Washington Press, 2006, Print.