Of all the conservative memes that I love the most, there are few more endearing than the one in which money doesn't matter when improving our education system. Apparently, all other endeavors in life take money and investment in order to grow and prosper but this is not the case for education.

Such is the crux of Phil Krinkie's mini rant today in the St. Cloud Times:

Dubbed "the New Minnesota Miracle" — referring to a major change to K-12 funding in the early 1970s labeled the "Minnesota Miracle" — it proposes to increase state funding of K-12 education by a whopping $2.6 billion per year according to the State Department of Education. That amounts to a 37 percent annual increase.

Unfortunately, what Mr. Krinkie conveniently leaves out of his editorial is that this money can and will be phased in through a number of years that have yet to be determined. In communicating with my state legislator, Larry Haws, it was made clear that this money is also meant to replace levy referendum around the state which would make part of the cost quoted by Krinkie revenue neutral. Yet this little tidbit of information is also kept from the reader.

Krinkie goes on to provide the classic conservative meme:

That being said, study after study shows there is no direct correlation between education spending and test results.

First, there is no mention of even one of these studies. Second, a few things occurred to me when reading this particular sentence. What if I don't care about "test results"? What if I find tests to be an evaluator of the most trivial forms of knowledge and thus not all that valuable an indicator of success in life? What if I want my children to be successful higher order thinkers and analyzers? Then is there a "direct correlation" between education and money?

Additionally, if there is no "direct correlation" might there be so many indirect correlations as to make increased funding an invaluable tool for improving education? Certainly, more money does not guarantee success but it is a fallacy to believe that money cannot then EVER bring success. Krinkie and his conservative brethren define success through the most narrow scope of success. That scope being through standardized testing. They fail to consider the successes money generates when it creates an after school program that will keep a kid feeling safe and secure from the streets. They fail to consider the successes that come from expensive technologies that open the eyes of a student who doesn't particularly do well in those standardized test types of classes. They fail to consider that money provides time and money provides resources that can oftentimes create positive yet intangible results.

There is more to education than money and there is even more to education than testing but I can tell you this, without testing we could spend a lot more time really educating but without money education becomes significantly more difficult.

By the by, Mr. Krinkie, I found a study that runs counter to your particular claim. While it is not a silver bullet, I would like to point out that I have thus far provided ONE study supporting my claims while you have provided ZERO:

Of course, it's absolutely true that equal funding doesn't erase the acheivement gap on its own. But that doesn't mean money doesn't matter. A new study released (PDF) by the Illinois-based Center for Tax and Budget Accountability divides schools into three distinct categories based on their local property wealth:

- "Flat Grant" districts, which have the greatest amount of available local property wealth.
- "Alternative Formula" districts, which have the second greatest amount of available property wealth.
- "Foundation Formula" districts, which have available local property wealth that ranges from very low to just above average.

And what does the research show? Academic performance -- measured by data from the Illinois State Achievement Test -- is "strongly correlated" with mild increases (between $1,000-$2,200) in spending on instruction. The academic growth is evident in both school districts with low poverty (3-8 percent low income rates) and significant poverty (27-32 percent low income rates).

While the study examines Illinois specifically, there is little reason to believe that the evidence would not hold true here in Minnesota.