|This article was written to defuse (unsuccessfully) increase in school tax.
Copyright © by Mark A. Laughlin
The school budget scramble is a result of poor planning combined with circumstances that make planning impossible.
First off, it is poor planning to base a budget upon contrived rosy projections of economic health. To base a school budget on projected increases in property assessments is as ludicrous as Congress' repeated assurances of a balanced federal budget...based on a 8% yearly increase in the GNP. To count on an increase in property assessments next year, increased taxes next year, or the outcome of some lawsuit next year; is a recipe for disaster. That this sort of disaster could be evaded year after year while drawing on the district's reserve account is unforgivable.
Secondly, state funded schools cannot make true, fully integrated, business-like judgments because they are funded by force, i.e., their customers are unable to withdraw support and seek other educational opportunities (except by relocating_is there a correlation to falling property values?). There is no way that the school board can use efficient business practices to allocate their resources. Instead the battle reduces to brute pressure group warfare. So in that sense, yes, board trustees are up there "guessing", i.e., making subjective value judgments.
So what is the solution? There is only one long-term goal that will save our schools: a separation of government and education.
Education is not a proper function of government and government's involvement in the field entails two disastrous consequences. First is the out of control school budget. The second and most insidious evil is that it is wrong to force, thru taxation, people to finance an educational system which they may find objectionable for the same reasons it is wrong to tax people to support a religion which they oppose or consider evil.
How do we achieve a education renaissance from here? First we need a radical reformation of the curriculum. Education, in school, must concern itself with developing the conceptual thinking skills of the student. The basic conceptual skills are developed in reading, writing, arithmetic, mathematics, science, history and literature. All other courses must be removed from the dominion of the school system...these other skills can be learned on one's own as an extracurricular activity. To mix these "lesser" subjects with the important, fundamental conceptual subjects grossly devalues the critical conceptual curriculum. Furthermore, to introduce higher level topics to students before their conceptual faculty is developed is pure indoctrination; for example, discussions on "Nuclear arms," "Civil Rights" or "Mandated Recycling" by third graders who haven't, as yet, even learned the purpose of government much less how one goes about defining such a purpose.
If students want drivers ed, let Welling Ford expand its business and offer it. If students want to learn about computers, let the Computer Den instruct them and install a computer system in almost everyone's home. If students want to play football, baseball, soccer, etc, then let them and interested parties organize it outside of school hours like I did when racing motocross. If students want to study environmentalism, multiculturalism and other neo-nazi nonsense, I won't stand in their way.
Ultimately, state run schools must be abolished in favor of wholly private education (just like churches) so that those who want their children taught environmentalism's secularized original sin can seek out that kind of school, while those who want their children to grow up with a healthy self-esteem can select another school. Neither being forced to support the other's ideology.
Now lets look at busing. The problem is that people like to think they are getting something for free. Well you are not. If the school is going to offer busing, there should be a fee to use it; a fee that will wholly cover the operating expenses. Otherwise no wise allocation of scarce resources (dollars) can be effected. A fee based busing system allows each parent to decide what is the best allocation of their resources.
Would my child's safety be best achieved by spending my money on school bus transportation or should I save for one of those nifty new Ford wagons with dual airbags or buy new tires for the old Chevy pickup or provide my child with better health care or improve my child's nutrition or purchase quality bicycle helmets or better clothe them or save for their college education. These decisions are the prerogative of the parent.
A parent may also believe that there is some value in letting a child walk to school even if there is some additional risk; the character development that comes from knowing that education is not free and cannot be a "right." If nothing else, perhaps, a child will stay warmer walking than standing idle waiting for the bus to show up.
The educational system and curriculum I have described is in the best interest of the children. But what about the teachers? While they are not my primary concern, I have to say that skilled teachers fare particularly well under private schools and are handsomely paid while, at the same, the cost per pupil is almost half that of state run schools. Of course we needn't concern ourselves with the other kind of teacher. The question to be directed to that kind of teacher who is usually the one who most virulently objects to being dislodged from his dictatorial position is "Do you think nobody would willingly entrust his children to you and pay you for teaching them? Why do you have to extort your fees and collect your pupils by compulsion."
A radical return to private education is the solution...anything less, and your children are condemned to a sub-human level of existence.