Sunday, April 20, 2008

Teachers Are A Charity?

I'm a professional, and this embarrasses me:

A free public school education is guaranteed by the state Constitution to every California child. But as districts grapple with proposed state funding cuts that could cause the layoffs of thousands of teachers and inflate class sizes, parents are being asked to dig deeper into their pocketbooks to help.

"Public education is free, but an excellent public education is not free at this point," said Janet Berry, president of the Davis Schools Foundation, which recently launched the Dollar-a-Day campaign, urging citizens of the city near Sacramento to donate $365 per child, grandchild or student acquaintance...

South Orange County families are being urged to donate $400 per student to save the jobs of 266 teachers in the Capistrano Unified School District.
I'm in no position to argue whether or not California spends enough money per student on education--even though education consumes a full 50% of our state budget. And if it were my job being saved by this charity, I'd be plenty thankful. But looking from the outside, this is just unseemly. Honestly, aren't they playing on the guilt of parents here? "If you don't help these poor, helpless teachers, your child may suffer."

One politician has a good idea, though:

David Long, California's education secretary, acknowledged the inequity (between those communities that can contribute extra to schools and those that cannot) but said money from nonprofit organizations and federal funds earmarked for poorer schools help level the playing field somewhat. However, he said the only way to fix the state's finances is for the Legislature to approve Schwarzenegger's budget stabilization act, which would put away surplus revenue during economic booms for use in leaner times.

I wish him good luck in that endeavor.


Mrs. C said...

Find me a middle-class school district that never asks for fundraisers, extra money for this or that, doesn't beg for "donations" and bond issues constantly ... and supplies all the students with every last pencil they need to learn (it's supposed to be FREE, right???), and I promise I'll keel over in my chair in surprise.

You can't find one.

No matter how much or little the schools receive, it never seems to be enough. There is always something else they need from the taxpayer or government "for the children."

It's a shame school districts don't appreciate the community and the funding they do receive, because the ungrateful attitude really wears down taxpayer and parental support for the schools. There are a lot of jaded parents out there like me now. :]

Ellen K said...

In a way, it is the same complaint that flight attendants have against American Airlines. Teachers, along with flight attendants, often have taken cuts in pay, in benefits or in working conditions in order to keep the entity in business. But when you look at the upper echelon of management, similar sacrifices are NOT being made. If these districts are like most districts, there are entire layers of administration that have little to do with classroom delivery, student welfare or even enforcement of ethics. Instead they are the writers of curriculum, the managers of services and God help us all, athletic directors and coaches that seem to be very well compensated and get stipends to boot. The money is probably there, it's just being very poorly managed. And no manager or administrator or manager will write the solution that would end their own job. That's a fact in education, or in business.

Foobarista said...

The difference is in business, bureaucrat-bound corporations eventually end up being crushed by more nimble competitors.

In education, the cash-sucking bureaucrats just make the product worse - by cutting salaries of the service providers - and whine about not ever having enough money.

allen (from Michigan) said...

ellen k wrote:

> But when you look at the upper echelon of management, similar sacrifices are NOT being made.

Foobarista got there a bit ahead of me but, yes they are.

It happens in a variety of ways not all of which are clearly reductions of administrative personnel but it goes on all the time.

Bureaucracy is a luxury only market-dominating companies enjoy for any length of time. Lesser competitors tolerate the growth of administration at their peril and companies go under all the time due to a failure to prune back the inevitable growth of non-productive personnel.

One way or the other, either by bankruptcy or its imminent prospect, in the private sector bureaucracy always gets trimmed back. Not nearly so much in government but the worst excess of the phenomenon seems to be reserved for public education.