School principals, not formulas, should decide how to spend education dollars
A recent trend in public education spending is positive for educators: revenues are on the rise as states such as Texas, Arizona and West Virginia inject new money into school districts. While many schools will receive additional resources as a result, they won’t necessarily get the things they need most.
A common myth is that principals are like CEOs of their schools, with authority to make key decisions and strategically deploy resources. The reality, though, is quite different. Principals typically are treated like middle managers, with little control over the $694 billion in annual U.S. public education spending. Instead, decisions often are made by legislators and district-level bureaucrats, who are far removed from students and classrooms.
This is problematic, in part, because research suggests that limiting school-level control over budget decisions creates inefficiencies. Studies show providing principals with flexibility can better align spending with school priorities. After all, principals typically know what’s best for their students, and effective leaders have been shown to have a substantial effect on student learning.