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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Education-Just Say No!

It's rare that I enter into political discussion on my blog or post political viewpoints on my social media sites, but this has been bugging me every day when I drive around my neighborhood so I have to say something. I'm sure most of you have seen them: "Vote Yes for our Schools," "Vote Yes for Education," and "Vote Yes on Prop XXX."

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm a HUGE proponent of education. My mother worked in the school system as a registrar for over twenty years, my in-laws (all of them) are in education as teachers, principals, or counselors. Public education is one of the most important programs we have for our children, our communities, and our future as a country. It's not perfect, but it presents opportunities for children of all socio-economic structures, and with charter schools, those opportunities are multiplied. So, why am I saying NO? Because government got involved and they've become too involved.

I don't think government is bad, and I think a lot of inconsistencies have been addressed through government involvement, but when we become too dependent on their funding we put ourselves in a tough spot. We have to have their money to run our schools, though, right? Eh...yes and no. I think there are programs that might get cut, and problems that might have to be solved, but we could manage without the full funding we receive from the federal gov't and it might be worth the autonomy. And the thing is, all of these propositions are like playing a shell game.

When you play a shell game, you see the shell go under the cup and you know where it is, but as the experienced magician moves the cups then the shell seems to disappear. It still exists, but not where we thought it would be. That's what these propositions and bonds do. The schools say they need money, and they do, so we pass an extra tax and here's what happens. That money is earmarked for education in that district, but then the legislators can look at the money in the school system and say "they have this earmarked money we can't touch, but we need more money for program XXX, so we'll take the money that isn't earmarked." And the cycle goes on and on. What happens in the end, we give the government more money to play with and our schools have less money to work with. I think it's time to say NO.

But then what will our kids do until the legislators wake up? It's called parent involvement. I know there are single parents out there, working parents, and illiterate parents for whom this is especially difficult, but studies have shown that the kids who learn the best are those with parent involvement. But what about the kids whose parents aren't involved? This is the hard part; we need to all get involved. Instead of letting the government take more of our money, we can (whether we have kids in school or not) get involved in our communities and in surrounding lower-income communities. Right now, my hands are full with my own kids and helping in their education, but helping in schools is something I look forward to when my kids are no longer at home. And one of the most rewarding experiences I've had was serving as the performing arts booster club president at our local high school. This might seem a simplistic solution, and I'm sure there will still be kids left behind, but I think we'll do a much better job than if we keep throwing money at a wall and seeing if it sticks or watching as the government picks up all the scattered bills on the floor.

So, my appeal is this: if you're not involved in education in some way, please get involved. Even if it's only a couple of hours a week, we can make a difference. And as for those propositions, consider just saying NO.

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