California's byzantine school funding system needs an update, so it's good Gov. Jerry Brown is thinking about it. Here are some ways to measure a smart school funding system:
How simple is it? The best funding systems have the money follow each child, like tuition. This is something Los Angeles has experimented with recently, and it has worked well. Several governments have implemented "student-based budgeting" as well. Public money is tied to kids, which directs more to classrooms and teachers rather than administrative staff.
How fair is it to taxpayers and students? Taxpayers deserve to benefit from the money government takes from them. Redistributing money too heavily is unjust. Of course, some students need more attention. Most student-based budgeting systems attach more money to high-needs kids, but not so much more that these students achieve a new privileged status. That ratio will probably be the trickiest point of Brown's eventual proposal.
The writer is an education research fellow at the Heartland Institute.