Friday, March 12, 2010

The Wrong Cuts

Just like individuals and families, communities everywhere are looking for ways to tighten their belts and live in a new era of shrinking budgets and investments looted by the financial mismanagement industry. The anti-tax movement has limited the ability of governments at all levels to raise operating funds, leaving only two options: cut back on services, or borrow the money they need to operate. This is today's unfortunate reality: everybody wants services, nobody wants to pay for them, and repeated borrowing to compensate for lost income just mortgages the future.

Some budget cuts are worse than others, though.

CNN is reporting that the school superintendent in Kansas City, Missouri, has put forward a plan to close nearly half of the city's schools because of a perfect storm of rising costs and declining numbers of students.

As you might expect, those affected by the school closures - both parents and students - are angrily arguing against the measures. School closings and consolidations are hard on students who must adapt to new school communities and on parents who must adapt to new schedules and teaching staffs. No one likes the school closings, but what do you do? Economically, it doesn't make sense to keep schools with low attendance open, and there is only so much belt-tightening that can be done to save money - after you've cut bus transportation, eliminated music and art classes, cut sports and other after-school programs, put off buying new books, and laid off teachers and staff, what's left?

There are a lot of problems with our schools, even without the added pressures of budget cuts. Congressionally-mandated (read unfunded) requirements, linguistic or physical accommodations for various groups, and social promotion of students who can't advance academically all sap energy and funds from the essential purpose of schools: to prepare our children to live in the Big Bad World. Many of our schools produce students who can't read or perform basic math skills, and I can tell you from personal experience that lots of people with high school (and even college) diplomas can't write decent English sentences. The condition of our government and the deplorable turnout rates for elections can probably be traced to the fact that we don't teach Civics classes any more. Standards are down at the same time that the need for a good basic education is up.

If budgets must be cut, slashing funding for our schools is the equivalent of starving farmers eating their seed corn. It's time to invest in the things that really matter. It's time to save the schools instead of spending money on feel-good programs that don't benefit all our children.

Have a good day. Hang in there...Cartoon Saturday is coming. More thoughts then.



Bandit said...

The word irony has been tossed around lately. Pat Quinn, the govenor of the raped state I mean great state of IL. was introducing his budget this week. He stated that the budget calls for a 1 billion cut in education spending and justified that by stating "we have to invest in our future."????????????????????

Leslie David said...

If we were not screwing around in Iraq and Afghanistan, think of all the wonderful things we could do with that money here--healthcare, infrastructure, know, the things that make life better. Bob McDonnell has also made empty promises when it comes to education in Virginia.

Mike said...

Soon all schools will be private and the government will give you a five hundred dollar voucher to attend any school you want.