Monday, October 22, 2012

Penny Sales Tax

I heard this morning that our county superintendent has said that if we don't renew the "temporary" penny sales tax (B-------n Amendment 2), they'll "have to" close five schools, consolidate four others, fire teachers and other employees, and cut programs.  The five schools they'll "have to" close include both the local R-------n Elementary and the school where I went as a child-- E------r Elementary.  I guess both would be diverted to R-------e, instead.  

That whole situation just makes me mad.  Tell people you'll tax them for three years, then when the three years are up, tell them that-- whoops!-- you apparently don't own a calendar-- didn't plan ahead-- whatever.  The point is, you need more money for the children.  What kind of awful person wouldn't support a measly little penny tax for the sake of the children?  Even if you don't have children or grandchildren in the school system, yourself, don't you have fond memories of your own school days? Where's your school pride?  Do you really want that schoolhouse to sit empty... doomed to eventual decay or demolishment?  They know that many will hear these sob stories and begrudgingly vote in favor of the tax-- just like when a city needs more money and the very first thing at the very top of their "To-Cut" list is... you guessed it, police and firemen.  Oh no!  But we gotta have our police!  It's not safe, otherwise... Gosh, give 'em all the money they need-- whatever they ask for!  ...Whew!  That was a close call!"

It's amazing how the school systems always need more money, yet we also keep hearing that (no matter how much money they get) student performance isn't where it needs to be... It's almost like we've reached a point of diminishing returns or something... Like there's this mysterious point at which more money doesn't really improve the quality of education... Hm.  

It's strange how children of the past managed to get an education in a one-room schoolhouse, often with only one teacher to tend to the needs of students of all ages and abilities.  Alright, I'm not saying that's ideal or that every student would get the best modern education from such a situation... but look how far we've come from those days-- and yet we get too many graduates who can barely write a coherent paragraph.  

Seriously, look at the "School Exhibition" in Little Town on the Prairie.  Those kids parsed sentences and did long division in their heads.  No paper.  No blackboard.  Just sharp-as-a-tack minds and an incredible command of the necessary skills.  How much do you think it cost to educate them, adjusted for inflation, etc.?  How many pennies per every dollar we spend today?

I think most of us can agree that there's waste-- and frills that simply are not required when providing even an excellent education.  And yet we're bad guys if we can look at the quivering, pouty lips and teary eyes of children and dare to say NO.