Friday, March 12, 2010

Can we only "Starve the Beast?"

PostPartisan - Help schools by helping the poor

 This article in the WaPo got me started to thinking this morning about education, budget cuts, and educational reform.  Then I read this in the Daily News Record Opinion Page.  My response follows:

Shorting Education Undermines Viability    Posted 2010-03-11

The Republicans of Virginia are shorting the public education offered to our children. This is laying off teachers in the process, and furthering the deterioration of Virginia’s roads and infrastructure.

We are not hiring all the different occupations needed for new construction and major repairs necessary. The reason given is to not pay any more taxes.

The prognostication for these actions is that the voters of Virginia will choose more Republican state and congressional representatives in November. Folks, we live in a global economy, which will bury national economies that do not offer the best-educated citizens and the most up-to-date infrastructure.

We have apparently collectively lost our minds. “Taxes are the price we pay for civilization.”

Bob Green   
Singers Glen

My Response:

Mr Green is correct. We have indeed collectively lost our minds when we simply ignore half of the fiscal responsibility equation, cost containment AND revenue. Taxes AND spending cuts. When only cuts are considered (as they have been almost exclusively for decades) the "beast is starved" and at some point must be fed.

Those who would make public education more efficient by suggesting cuts in education spending need to do some extensive homework to be sure that their "suggestions" aren't simplistic or idealistic. Hard choices mean hard research and careful consideration. We have lost our minds when efficiency is equated with testing or when budget cutting is more important than school breakfast and lunch programs.

We have lost our minds when the purposes and goals of public education are subverted for political gain. When students are cheated, they are taught to cheat. When students are hungry, they can't learn. When students are taught to take tests, they only learn to pass.

Reforms must include the revenue streams that will educate our students to their fullest potential. Reforms must also include increased efficiency in truly educating our students and less emphasis on training them to pass tests. Reforms must be carried out after consulting with educators and administrators who know what can be done to achieve effective and lasting reform.

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