Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Just like the movie Dave

Tis the season for children to buy notebooks, pencils, erasers, and Trapper Keepers (OK, maybe not anymore) in preparation for the return to school.  Working parents breathe a sigh of relief, knowing their children will be in school for the bulk of the day, while stay-at-home parents make plans to put the house back together after a summer of good times.

Well, this isn't the case in Sumner County, TN.  The school board submitted their annual budget to the county commissioners, and they waited until the week before school to say, "Nope.  You need to do it again, and this time cut 7.5 million dollars."  They did this after asking for similar cuts for the past few years.  The school board pushed back and said they are already running at minimum capacity and that further cuts will adversely affect education of students.  Currently, school is on hold while the school board and county commissioners try to work out a deal.

And now I'll get to the title of this post.  I have become utterly convinced that many Americans, especially the Tea Party, No More Taxes, and No Big Government types think that all government agencies, including school boards just need to call in somebody's loveable family accountant to look at the budget and find all of the ridiculous spending that's clearly ridiculous and wrong headed.  This happens in the movie Dave, starring Kevin Cline, and he's able to find 10 million dollars or so in the budget to fund a a program for needy children. 

Here's the problem, though.  That's hollywood and this is the real world.  I would imagine that if the loveable family accountant were to sit down with the school board and work through their budget, he/she wouldn't find much that's clearly ridiculous.  The county commissioners suggested lowering teacher pay.  Seriously?  Because they're really raking it in.  Somehow we're all fans of eliminating teacher tenure and placing government mandated restrictions on what they teach and how they teach, while also placing a cap on how much they get paid, and yet when one makes the exact same argument for running health care that way, people throw a total hissy fit.  Let's compare the rhetoric surrounding health care and education:

Health Care:
"Nobody will want to be a doctor if you limit pay. We have to pay the most money possible to get the best possible candidates!"  "I don't want a gu-ment bean counter controlling my health care!" "Rationing health care is bad."

"We need to get a handle on what those public schools are teaching our kids." "Being a teacher is a calling...they should understand that we can't afford to pay them very much." "Make due with limited resources and outdated equipment/books/supplies"

OK, I'm about to seriously go on a rant, so I'll wrap it up for now.  I would simply love for some logical consistency as people make their arguments for or against the role of government in society.


Unknown said...

Yes! Lovely pseudo-rant. You're so right and it's so sad how completely undervalued education (and teachers themselves) have become. It's the sad end-of-empire irony that worrying about national security means weakening it by over-investing in immediate threats (i.e. military) and cutting any real investments that would strengthen the society long-term (i.e. education, wealth disparity, etc).
I'm so happy to have discovered your posts though. Silver lining. :)
- Ben