Education is once again at the bottom of the priority list

A teacher in California has taken to selling ads on his tests in order to pay for the printing and photocopying costs associated with the tests. Somewhat surprisingly (at least to me) no one is quoted in the article as having been opposed to the idea. Usually some anti-corporate type will lash out at things like this, but maybe most people realize this guy really had no choice.

And that raises, once again, the issue of educational funding. As someone who thinks of himself as a libertarian, I’m in favor of smaller budgets for government. However, I truly believe that these smaller budgets can be achieved by simply eliminating waste and redundancy (i.e. middle management) within all levels of government. In fact if it were done right, direct budgets, i.e. money that goes directly to a program or project, might even be able to be increased in some cases. In addition, we need to get our priorities straight.

I have always believed that education is the root of everything. Want to lower the abortion rate? Educate people. Want the US to stop losing ground to foreign competition? Educate people. The trouble is that the trend, particularly in federal education spending but also on the state and local level, is that the government makes demands but does not provide the money needed to meet those demands. In the current financial crisis education has taken a back seat to Wall Street and Detroit. But most publicly and many privately funded educational institutions are in serious trouble at the moment. In fact, there is a particular fund that a huge number of universities and colleges (as well as some public school retirement funds) invested in to cover operating expenses. The idea (as with most non-profit organizations) was to cover operating expenses from the interest off of these investments. But this one particular fund that so many educational organizations invested in plummeted this fall to the point where most schools have implemented hiring freezes or worse (some are unable, like Detroit, to meet monthly payroll).

And yet where is education’s bailout? Where is the money to pay for that teacher’s photocopying costs? We bailed out Wall Street (AIG alone got over a hundred billion dollars) and we’re contemplating bailing out Detroit – all for their own inflexible and ego-driven mistakes. But when cuts have to be made, the first place we go to is education. Does no one see the irony in that? Perhaps if we had a better education system we’d have less of these problems. Not that education is a panacea. People will still be egotistical, selfish, narrow-minded, etc. But if we did a better job educating people on the complexities of the modern world it stands to reason some of these problems might be eased a bit (or even eradicated in some cases). Unfortunately, in general, this country (and many others beside it) is too stupid to realize that. Hmmm… I wonder why that is?

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2 Responses to “Education is once again at the bottom of the priority list”

  1. As a teacher, I find this guy taking the low road. He doesn’t have a projector in class? An ELMO??? or he cannot write on the board? All can be used to present a quiz or test to the students, and have them use their notebook paper to submit their responses. Selling advertising??? Let’s not go there.

  2. quantummoxie Says:

    I agree it’s not the best solution – and isn’t one I would personally employ. But, part of me wonders if his original motive wasn’t to shame the district into upping his budget. In other words, I wonder if he expected – and wanted – more comments like yours in the hope that it would trigger someone to just pony-up with the money before he had to actually go through with it.

    Either way, it’s still sad this is even being discussed. Teachers shouldn’t need to raise money for photocopying. As someone who teaches math as well as physics, I’m not sure overhead projectors and ELMOs are the best solution though. I can imagine myself being vexed and flustered by something like that if I were a student.

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