Sunday, May 2, 2010

It's Your Kids' Future, Stupid

I stumbled on an article the other day about the upcoming primary election here in Knox county and how some people are tying their voting decisions on the Mount Vernon City School Levy Renewal to their views on the Freshwater controversy. The article pointed to examples in, a local forum site, of people stating that they would vote against the Renewal because of all the money the school board wasted on the Freshwater Hearing.  Of course, in the real world, the MVSB was legally required to give Freshwater a hearing, and it was Freshwater and his legal team that turned it into a 2-plus year, half million dollar fiasco.

That news didn't surprise me, particularly, but some of the other reasons given for voting "no" did surprise and frustrate me.  For example, the teabagger mentality was expressed, where they viewed all taxes as a uniformly bad and wasteful use of citizens' money from which no one benefits but bureaucrats.  Other writers insisted that funding should be withheld until the school system demonstrates more fiscal responsibility (how this can be demonstrated without money isn't explained.)  Others think this is an additional tax rather than a continuation, or think this is a "bail-out", but many just think voting this down will not have any negative effect on them or their children.

I have a niece who is a primary school teacher in Reynoldsburg, OH.  She was recently talking about the effects of Reynoldsburg residents voting down school funding several times in a row.  As might be expected, there have been teacher layoffs, elimination of courses, parents having to pay for student participation in sports and other extracurricular activities, and a general deterioration of the quality of education.  But the problems haven't stopped at the school doors.

Anyone with the financial wherewithal to move to a better school district is doing so as fast as possible.  As a result, the per capita income is dropping, the city is losing money and cutting services, neighborhoods are deteriorating as lower income people, who can't afford home maintenance move in, and the crime rate has gone up.  In short, everything that the forum participants insist won't happen in Mount Vernon are already happening just down the road.

In the big picture, the American student is becoming more ignorant and less competitive compared to the students of other nations. Kids from crummy neighborhoods are less likely to do well in school, especially if its a crummy school.  If we can no longer produce college graduates with advanced degrees to keep us on top, other countries will be more than happy to fill that niche.  The best paying jobs will go to immigrants with better skills and more of the jobs will go overseas.  So let me paraphrase a line I read a few times in the forum;  If you couldn't afford to pay the taxes that keep the schools open and support the community, maybe you shouldn't have had any kids.