Thursday, January 20, 2005


Dishonest Republicans and Democrats

As the fight begins over the governor's proposed budget for the 2005-2006 fiscal year, the misleading diatribes from both sides of the aisle have erupted into the public domain. The California Teachers' Association and the California Republican Party (with the help of Dan Weintraub at the Sacramento Bee) have begun trading shots, but neither party seems to want to face all of the problems of public education: lack of parental involvement, lack of effective discipline procedures, lack of appropriate materials, bulging classrooms due to immigration issues, and a lack of any desire on either side to get serious about the problems. Rather, the debate usually comes down to money in a generic sense without anyone speaking about the specifics although I would agree that money is very important.

The CRP, and Mr. Weintraub, are correct to argue that the proposed amount of money spent per pupil in the governor's new budget shows an increase from $7,012 to $7,374. They add that the CTA bemoans "fake" cuts in education that are based on expected revenue. At this point, they rest their case.

They should rest their case in a figurative casket as the cuts are not "fake" even though they are based on expected revenue - expected from Proposition 98 funds. Now it would be fair to argue (and I do) that propositions like Prop. 98 should be eliminated as they hamstring the legislators and prevents them from doing the job that they have been elected to do. But that is another arguement for another time. The point to be made here is that the CTA is correct in arguing that public education will get less than promised.

The question that needs to be asked is, "Is the amount of $7,374 per student sufficient to make our schools significantly better?"

On its website, the CTA cites the Rand Corporation's study that shows that California schools are nowhere near the top, nor is the proposed amount to be spent sufficient to catapult the state to the top: "The decline of California's K-12 system has paralleled the shrinking of per pupil financial support for education during the past three decades, according to the RAND report."

Now the entire report is not all gloom-and-doom. However, it is very curious that the Republican Party would shy away from an organization, Rand, that it normally embraces. In fact, the CRP has chosen to ignore the CTA's citing of the Rand study rather than attempting to rebut it. This approach is intelectually dishonest as well as lazy.

The crisis of insufficent supplies and financial support in the classroom is readily apparent if anyone in the CRP wants to check out the situation. More money, efficiently allocated and spent, would help to reduce class size and provide more matierials which would help make instruction more effective. Maybe some of those teachers that the governor likes to slam for "just showing up" are individuals who are tired of fighting and losing to the system that he does not seem to understand.

Of course, money is not the sole problem. Indifferent parents and a discipline system that makes it almost impossible to remove students from the mainstream system are also to blame for many of the educational problems.

Here is a politically incorrect question: "Would the total amount of money spent (if spent efficiently) be more than enough to catapult the state of California to the top of the educational pyramid if we did not have to educate illegal immigrants?" If that problem was addressed, there would probably be sufficient funds, sufficient supplies, sufficient administrative support, and class size numbers that benefit all concerned.

The CTA is so far left that they are gutless when it comes to facing the reality of the illegal immigrant problem; and, the Republican Party machine seems comfortable with towing the asinine Bush-line on the status of illegal immigrants. Neither side is willing to stand up and address this major issue/problem. Until they do, they will fire shots at one another that are comfortable for them to fire while the real problems are ignored.

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