Don’t Believe the Hype
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It’s trite, I know, but I still love the bumper sticker that reads, “If education is expensive, try ignorance.” The truth is, good education is expensive. It requires high salaries and good benefits packages that can attract and retain a well-trained and hard-working workforce of teachers, administrators, and support services personnel. It requires the construction of safe and stable learning environments for kids. It requires the provisioning of thousands of classrooms with the latest and best instructional technology, not to mention the basic supplies for learning. All of these things require money. And that money requires the long-term dedication of our state and our communities, and of the politicians who lead us.
Of course what Eric Luedtke and the rest of the urban liberals fail to realize is that you cannot continue to spend, spend, and spend in the same way that you have already spent, spent, and spent. If the “spend first, ask questions later” was accurate, our public schools would be the Cadillac of public schools systems, and the District of Columbia (who spends more than $15,000 per pupil) would have the best public school system in the Western Hempishphere.
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We spend money hand over fist, and education officials still whine that there is never enough money and support. And liberals and union officials continue to want raise your taxes to spend, spend, spend on projects that they deem to be important.
Mainly, benefits. Just look again at what Luedtke wrote:
It requires high salaries and good benefits packages that can attract and retain a well-trained and hard-working workforce of teachers, administrators, and support services personnel.
To be blunt, how the hell much more can we pay on high salaries and benefits pacakges. We discussed a few months back the budget here for public schools in Anne Arundel County and remember what the breakdowns were? 80-percent of the school system budget is spent on personnel. Eighty Percent. And remember something else: there is one administrative staff member for every 4.35 teachers in the Anne Arundel County system.
I think that Luedtke’s example of Loiederman Middle School in Silver Spring is a fantastic example of the positive changes that can be made. But a lot of what Loiederman is doing does a great job of proving Luedtke’s point about the necessity of additional monies for education false. Read what he writes about Loiderman.
Partially funded with a $7 million, 3 year federal grant, it and its two sister schools adopted programs that have led to a decrease in economic segregation, an acceleration of curriculum for all students in the schools, and provided unique learning opportunities in the arts and technology that few, if any, public middle schools in the country provide.
Sure, the federal grant helped out. But look at what they did with it. They did not throw the money down the drain on what has already does not work. They tried innovative programs designed to change the culture of the school. They saw that Loiderman was failing, and took positive action in order to change the curriculum, change the focus, and put the focus back on educating students. They tried something different. And that’s a great thing to see. They didn’t wait around to spend more on failing ideas and just hope for the best. And you know something, you don’t need $3 billion to make that kind of change.
We need to streamline education. Public schools systems need to trim their size, not expand further. Many administrative positions need to be eliminated. Costs savings need to be transferred to repair dilapidating structures, and modernize classroom spaces, technological upgrades and replace textbooks. State profits from the passage of casino gambling should be funneled as a dedicated funding mechanism for school construction and rehabilitation. Focus should be put solely on classroom instruction, and more taxpayer dollars should directly impact the classroom environment And yes, teachers should be paid for their performance, not their longevity.
Education is the touchstone issue. Conservatives agree with liberals that it is one of the most important issues facing our state. But the fact of the matter is that we have tried education for the last 100 years through the liberal, Democratic worldview. And more and more, we are seeing that the liberal view of education as some place to throw more and more money is not working.
Schools should not be viewed as a depository of taxpayer dollars designed to reward Democratic supporters. Nor should public schools be laboratories for whatever the latest leftist education theories should be. Schools should be merely for learning about the things that any basic educated individual needs to know. We need to make sure that kids learn match, learn science, learn history, and learn to properly read and write. We need to teach them skills they need to succeed in our modern world.
Frankly, I am afraid that Democrats, liberals, education leaders and union officials are not focused on educating our students anymore.