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Sunday, November 05, 2006

Public Schools are Broken (and levy increases will not fix them)

The British comedy troupe "Monty Python's Flying Circus" once did a skit where a man is feeling very sick and goes to see a doctor. After an extensive examination of the patient the doctor announces his findings:

"There is nothing wrong with you that expensive treatment can't prolong."

Unfortunately, the doctor's conclusion is applicable to the our public schools. It's obvious that there are some serious problems, both academic and financial, with our schools. The current Mounds View Schools levy proposal is nothing more than an expensive treatment to mask some ugly symptoms for while but will do nothing to treat the underlying problem. A couple of school board members have begrudgingly admitted this to me when I pressed them on it meetings where they were trying to sell the public on the levy proposal.

In fairness to the Mounds View School Board, not all, but a good deal of the problems with public schools in general are the result of downright stupid federal and state mandates and regulations. Most problems are not going to go away, regardless of what the school boards do or don't do, until the educational system is completely re-structured. This would be a major undertaking that, to do it right, would involve the dismantling of the Department of Education at both the federal and state level. (The federal Department of Education is a relic that was created during the failed Carter Administration that still plagues public education). Ultimately the delivery and administration of education needs to be wrested from centralized government and turned over to local school boards who can contract with the private sector for these services.

This obviously is not going to happen until the situation gets bad enough to force it. Perhaps it is time to force a relatively minor "derailment" now to get the attention of the education bureaucrats at the state and federal level before the inevitable full blown "train wreck" occurs. The Mounds View School District has had an unexpected increase in enrollment this school year which should mitigate some of the disaster the school board had projected should the levy not pass.

We need to not only call the bluff and reject the Mounds View Schools levy increase, but then follow up and pack the school board meetings with angry parents to demand that the cuts that must be made are to areas of waste and excess and not to core classroom functionality. It seems that the school board is trying to sell the notion that their threatened cuts to what most would consider essential services is the only way a failed levy could be dealt with. From what I've seen at school board meetings and from the experience of having kids in the system, I don't buy it.

By cutting off the funding the levy would provide we can force the bureaucracy to start dealing with the underlying problems. It will no doubt be painful and ugly, but it will be even more so in the future if we continue covering up symptoms with money to put off dealing with the problem for a while longer.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why don't you reveal your bias? You send your kids to private schools.

11/08/2006 4:50 PM  
Blogger Right Hook said...

Bzzzzt! Wrong conclusion.

There are probably some administrator types at various schools and some Mounds View School Board members who would seriously consider paying the private school tuition for my kids if I just got them out of there and left them the administrators alone. I'm one of those "involved" parents who take education seriously.

My bias is toward limited government and efficient use of taxpayer money. The public school system has grown into a self-perpetuating bureucracy that does not efficiently server the students or the taxpayers.

11/08/2006 5:33 PM  
Blogger Thrifty Scot said...

Those who supported the levy most likely fell into a biased category themselves:

-- People with kids in the schools
-- People who earn a paycheck from the schools
-- People who benefit politically from expanding public sector union membership

Everyone was voting some kind of interest - claims of bias are a diversion from addressing the facts.

11/09/2006 11:58 AM  

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