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Education Funding Crisis — not for everyone

March 23, 2010

Raise your hands if you’ve heard our public education system is having a budget crisis?  Darned near everyone, I’d say…well, I guess that depends whose budget we’re talking about.

Locally there is a big brouhaha stirring about how some administrators and education “chiefs” are managing to increase their base salaries by tens of thousands of dollars this year while they ask everyone else to accept cuts and reductions.  Parents are being asked what programs or services they are willing to see dropped or reduced, there’s a cost to bus students to supplementary programs off-campus now that used to be free, teachers and staff are poised to be cut from classrooms and other positions. Voters were asked this past February to agree to higher taxes to support additional levies and bonds because the supposedly cash-strapped district needed additional funding to build more schools and support other expenditures.

Yet, the administrators in the top positions receive a substantial pay raise?

Now, I’m not going to debate here about whether they deserve it or not, or whether it’s right or not because no matter where you come down on that side of the argument someone’s going to get mad at you. But, I will pose this question:

How does it look?

I mean, I know it works for the banks and insurance companies who all have received their bailout money and the top brass is high-fiving itself as they pick up their substantial bonus checks. But, if you are a school system that is making regular announcements of how budget cuts at the State level are forcing the district to make reductions in the services and staff supporting the education of its kids…and parents have to accept this deficit and make sacrifices of its own, how palatable is it when the “bosses” still manage to find the money to give themselves increases?

I think it’s important to be able to lead by positive example. It’s a rare trait these days, but is vital to rallying people around your cause. I feel less sympathy with an administration that manages to take care of themselves first while asking for others to make sacrifices than I would with a leadership team that makes sacrifices as well.

The old adage, “Do as I say, not as I do” has never been a good teaching tool. Parents who do this with their kids are considered hypocritical and the teaching falls on deaf ears. I guess I’d like to see those who are responsible for educating our kids, who are asking those customers (parents and kids) to accept lower quality, fewer services show us that they are sensitive to tough budgets and hard times and be willing to show us — by positive example — that they are working in the best interest of the kids, and are willing to be the first to make cutbacks, too.

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