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Archive for the tag “adequate”

EDUCATION- IS THE TAXPAYER RESPONSIBLE FOR FRILLS?

 

I just read an article in today’s (5-25-11) Wall Street Journal (WSJ) that every tax payer in America should read; “Public Schools Charge Kids for Basics, Frills” by Stephanie Simon. I personally have some problems with every fact exposed, but I find some refreshing ways to even the burden on what I feel are pure frills. The facts I use are quoted from this article. 

Fact; “After adjusting for inflation, average spending per pupil has increased 44% over the past two decades, according to the U.S. Department of Education.” The WSJ article states; “The average salary for a public school teacher nationally has jumped 26% since 2001, though that growth didn’t quite keep pace with inflation.”

For the past few weeks I have posted many articles about education and it appears that Public Schools across America are facing significant reductions in state funding for education. Increasing personnel costs and lower tax revenues are shifting costs to students and their parents by new and increased fees in several parts of the country.

Some public schools have charged for extras such as driver’s education and field trips. Many school districts are now charging for supplies needed to take core classes. In some schools each class has a price tag. One interesting area that should get some specific attention is the costs of sports and other non-core education subjects like band, debate, drama, arts etc.

Some examples extracted from the WSJ article; Fees in Medina, Ohio of $200 for Band, $200 for Concert Choir, $50 to act in a school play and $660 to participate in a high school sport; A 52% increase this year in the Blue Valley ISD in Overland Park Kansas for enrollment and supplies that are typically $235; Next year the Wheaton (Illinois) North High School will charge $221 for baseline registration, $150 for each sport and class fees as much as $50 each. In addition Medina charges $75 for generic school fees, $118.50 for materials used in Biology, physics and other academic courses and $263 for Advanced Placement Exams. Other non-core cost examples included in the article were parking, struggling readers, advanced math, foreign languages and Chess Club.

All American children should receive a tax supported core public education that I had many years ago. The general public seems to agree that this is an American value. Each state has a constitutional requirement to educate our children, but it appears that the variables are significant from state to state. Each state should define “suitable” or “adequate” education that is to be funded with public money. If you feel that charging special fees like the examples included, then contact your State Representative or Senator.

I urge my state, Texas, to call a special legislative session, to define the tax payer’s education responsibilities. They should also force smaller school districts to consolidate. 1265 different school districts is an irresponsible legislative oversight to control spending. School boards refuse to consolidate because they are forced to give up sport nicknames such as “Bulldogs”, etc. This is as asinine as the ego trip for some to attain power of serving on a School Board. If a local school district desires extra benefits involving sports, academic enhancements, clubs etc., let them fund it with local tax increases.

It is time for the people to stand up and force the legislatures to do their job with fiscal responsibility. We have 254 counties and only two have County School Superintendents, Dallas and Harris counties, why? The State of Texas “IS” responsible for every child to receive the same educational opportunity. When will the Governor and Legislature stop blaming the local school boards and make sure all Texas children have equal and adequate opportunities?  

If you agree then pass this around, I would appreciate your comments.

CB

TEACHERS or POLITICANS- WHO BEST SERVES EDUCATION?

I sincerely hope that everyone who reads this posting will forward it to everyone they know. It is time to recognize that all teachers are not greedy like the examples we have seen in Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan over the past few weeks. I would like to thank Mr. Joe Smith of TexasISD.com who gave me permission to use this letter of my blog. It is ironic that the Mineral Wells (Texas) Index printed this letter. I was born there in 1930 and my mother worked for the Index before I arrived.  Thanks Joe.  CB

Subject: Stop Labeling Teachers

TexasISD General News


http://www.texasisd.com/article

by John Kuhn as printed in the Minerals Wells Index

Dear Editor,

The age of accountability should be renamed the age of blame, when teachers wear the scarlet letter for the failings of a nation. We send teachers into pockets of poverty that our leaders can’t or won’t eradicate, and when those teachers fail to work miracles among devastated children, we stamp ‘unacceptable’ on their foreheads.

I ask you, where is the label for the lawmaker whose policies fail to clean up the poorest neighborhoods? Why do we not demand that our leaders make “Adequate Yearly Progress”? We have data about poverty, health care, crime, and drug abuse in every legislative district. We know that those factors directly impact our ability to teach kids. Why have we not established annual targets for our legislators to meet? Why do they not join us beneath these vinyl banners that read “exemplary” in the suburbs and “unacceptable” in the slums?

Let us label lawmakers like we label teachers, and we can eliminate 100 percent of poverty, crime, drug abuse, and preventable illness by 2014! It is easy for elected officials to tell teachers to “Race to the top” when no one has a stopwatch on them! Lace up your sneakers, Senators! Come race with us!

Teachers are surrounded by armchair quarterbacks who won’t lift a finger to help, only to point. Congressmen, come down out of those bleachers and strive with us against the pernicious ravages of poverty. We need more from you than blame. America’s education problem is actually a poverty problem.

If labels fix schools, let us use labels to fix our congresses! Let lawmakers show the courage of a teacher! Hold hands with us and let us march together into the teeth of this blame machine you have built. Let us hold this congressman up against that congressman and compare them just as we compare our schools. Congressmen, do not fear this accountability you have given us. Like us, you will learn to love it.

Or maybe lawmakers do such a wonderful job that we don’t need to hold them accountable?

Did you know that over the next five years, Texas lawmakers will send half a billion dollars to London, to line the pockets of Pearson’s stakeholders. That’s 15,000 teacher salaries, sacrificed at the altar of standardized testing. $500,000,000 for a test! I’m sure it’s a nice test, but it’s just a test. I’ve never seen a test change a kid’s life or dry a kid’s tear. Tests don’t show up at family funerals or junior high basketball games. They don’t chip in to buy a poor girl a prom dress. Only teachers do those things.

If times are desperate enough to slash local schools’ operating funds, then surely they are desperate enough to slash Pearson’s profits. Lawmakers, get your priorities straight. Put a moratorium on testing until we can afford it. Teachers are our treasure – let’s not lose the house just so we can keep our subscription to Pearson’s Test-of-the-Month Club. We have heard Texas senators often talk about the teacher-to-non-teacher ratio in our schools. Lawmakers, they are ALL non-teachers at Pearson. Don’t spend half a billion dollars that we don’t have on some test that is made in England.

Parents are so fed up with standardized testing that hundreds are now refusing to let their children test. They do not want their children run through this terrible punch press. They do not want standardized children. They want exceptional children!

Let me tell you Texas’s other dirty secret – some schools get three times the funding of other schools. Some schools get $12,000 per student, while others get $4,000. Did you know that every single child in Austin is worth $1,000 more than every single child in Fort Worth? Do you agree with that valuation? Congress does. They spend billions to fund this imbalance.

Now the architects of this inequity point at the salaries and staff sizes at the schools they have enriched to justify cuts at schools that have never been given enough. State Sen. Florence Shapiro, of Plano, says, essentially, yes, but we’re cutting the poor schools by less. Senator, you don’t take bread away from people in a soup line! Not even one crumb. And you should not take funds away from schools that you have already underfunded for years. It may be politically right to bring home the bacon, but ain’t right right.

Legislators, take the energy you spend shifting blame and apply it toward fixing the funding mechanisms. We elected you to solve the state’s problems, not merely to blame them on local government. After all, you have mandated local decision-making for years. Your FIRST rating system tells school boards that their district’s administrative cost ratio can be no higher than 0.2 percent. And over 95 percent of school districts in Texas are in compliance with the standard you have set. At my school, our administrative cost ratio is 0.06 percent – so could you please stop blaming me?

If 95 percent of schools are compliant with the administrative cost ratio indicator in the state’s financial rating system for schools, then why are state officials saying we have too much administration? We have the amount of administration they told us to have! Either they gave us bad guidance and we all followed it, or they gave us good guidance and just need someone other than themselves to blame for these cuts.

Is this the best we can do in Texas? I wish they would worry about students half as much as they worry about getting re-elected.

These same senators have a catchy new slogan: “Protect the Classroom.” I ask you, senators: who are we protecting the classroom from? You, that’s who. You are swinging the ax; don’t blame us for bleeding wrong.

They know that their cuts are so drastic that school boards will have no choice but to let teachers go, and I can prove it: while they give press conferences telling superintendents not to fire teachers, at the same time they pass laws making it easier for … you guessed it …administrators to fire teachers. Which is it, senators?

If we don’t truly need to cut teachers, then don’t pass the laws that reduce their employment protections. And if we truly do need to cut teachers, then go ahead and pass those laws but quit saying teacher cuts are the superintendents’ fault. Here’s the deal: I can accept cuts, but I cannot do anything but forcefully reject deceit.

Politicians, save your buck-passing for another day. We need leadership. Get to work, congressmen. Do your jobs, and find the revenue to fund my child’s education.

Sincerely,

John Kuhn, father of three, Perrin

 

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