Cypress-Fairbanks ISD has signed up to partner with retail electric provider Ambit Energy to raise funds for the district. If parents or other district supporters sign up to buy electricity through the promotion, Ambit will pay Cy-Fair part of the proceeds. Nothing particularly wrong with that at one level.

But the bigger question is, are school districts in such dire need of money that they need to go hunting for new sources of revenue? Our research has shown a tremendous growth in education spending over the years and a similar growth in education personnel, all without a corresponding increase in educational quality. For instance, total Texas public school expenditures increased 142 percent when adjusting for inflation from 1987 to 2007. And Texas’ education staff increased 71.5 percent between 1989 and 2009, while student enrollment only increased 44.5 percent. Yet test scores are essentially flat over most of that period, stuck in mediocrity.

School districts are not facing a revenue problem, they are facing an efficiency and quality problem. So rather than expending effort on bake sales and partnerships with business, they ought to be focusing on how to better educate kids with the money they have.

– Bill Peacock