Shooting for the bottom
I just got back from a visit home-- enjoyed myself immensely, seeing old pals, especially my friend J, who is a teacher. I also managed to run into several teachers I didn't know previously-- working at an Eddie Bauer, working at a Barnes & Noble, and so on, and it depressed me to think about these ladies working retail during their non-teaching hours just to make ends meet, because that was what was going on-- they told me so.
Well here's a little piece of humor masquerading as politics. In another example of closing one's eyes to long term educational consequences in favor of currying short term political favor, the supposedly moderate governor of my home state (which ranks at the bottom for teacher salaries, and money spent per child) has proposed giving a tax rebate to all taxpaying families in the state. Seems "awl revenoo" is looking up- go figure- and so the bright idea of sending each taxpaying family a token check was born.
Nevermind that nearly half the students in public school qualify for free or reduced lunch. Nowhere does anyone contemplate spending the money on teacher salaries in a state which is hemorrhaging teachers across all the borders. The saints who remain behind face some of the most stringent certification standards of any state. For the last ten years, the only way a teacher could get more money short of moonlighting at Sam's Club-- which always makes your students respect you more when they see you as a checker at night-- was to jump through the dubiously objective hoops of the national certification program.
I'm sure the guv is winning friends all across the state who eagerly anticipate their money. But a few bucks in the hands of individuals will buy enough pizza for a family of four a couple of times a year. A couple of million bucks pooled together can buy a lot of textbooks, school repairs, and high-quality teachers.
My home state is not a rich one, but we natives are a proud lot. MHS has experienced a tragic loss of jobs in the last few years, and times are hard for many. In the short term, the checks would make people happy. But one of the reasons why times are hard is that many lack the broad educational background to be able to negotiate the vagaries of the modern job market. So the money would be a wise investment, since companies looking to relocate are doubtless scared off by the lack of support for the concept of an educated citizenry.
I'm hoping someone back there thinks this through and makes an investment in the future.
Thanks to my friend J for the food for thought.