Wednesday, December 16, 2009

California’s education gets an insufficient funds notification

What will it take for Californians to stand-up and realize our state, the 8th largest economy in the world, is run by complete incompetents? When will our citizens recognize that the state bureaucrats we entrust to run our school system are flunking?

Our once proud public education system used to be first in the nation. Over the last 40 years it has dropped to 47th. I am not going to debate the reasons for the onerous plunge here. As someone who has seen the bowels of education, I have my theories and devoted one of the largest chapters of my book to the topic.

As the trustees of the San Diego Unified School District and other state school districts mull enormous cuts to close Sacramento’s insufficient education funds, one must ask if cutting employee pay is the answer. Perhaps. Is cutting the education bureaucracy in Sacramento which bleeds the state education budget for 55 percent of the total education revenues the answer? Perhaps. Is cutting all extraneous programs unrelated to a good education an answer? Perhaps.

I submit our California’s public schools need to suspend all extracurricular programs, including athletics and, music and arts. Transportation needs to be completely axed from every school district budget, and parents needs to find alternatives to getting their children to school. I rode public transportation to high school in Los Angeles until I turned 16 and obtained my driver’s license.

California is in financial ruin, and without a federal bailout, massive changes to employee pension plans, or enormous cuts to the bureaucracy, the state most assuredly faces bankruptcy – or some form thereof.

At present, many education unions are still fighting to squeeze more pay for teachers and classified employees, precisely the charter of unions. They represent their union membership and it is their responsibility to get every penny they can for their members.

Who represents the union of 40 million citizens of our state? Our elected officials certainly have shown their proclivities to every nonsensical and extraneous program that has siphoned the coiffeurs dry. They negotiated overly generous pensions for state employees that are causing a substantial portion of the pain. State government employees now make more than their private sector counterparts, a dramatic reversal from 20 years ago.

In response, let’s reward substandard performance by cutting everything outside of the classroom and concentrating on what our children are supposed to be doing in school in the first place – getting an education.

We also need to abandon P.E. and just let students play on the playgrounds – just give them a few balls to play with. Eliminate all after school programs. Draconian cuts on a scale never seen before are needed in education.

I am being extreme for a reason. The public, en masse, does not realize the situation in Sacramento is dire. The generations of incompetents who have been running our state, governors and legislators alike from both parties, knew this was coming and buried their heads in the sands of Death Valley.

I love sports at all levels, including high school. My two children start high school next year and both hope to make athletic teams. The last thing I want is the elimination of our youth sports programs. But if these proposed cuts become the impetus that compel Californians to act, I would support such action.

Our once beautiful state is in decay, with seemingly no end in site. A state where over one in eight is now unemployed (12.5 percent) – the equivalent of the total population of the County of San Diego – out of work. We have water rationing in Southern California and for the farmers in the San Joaquin Dust Bowl – due to environmental restrictions caused by an endangered fish. We had electrical shortages just a few years ago, whereas 30 years ago we exported energy from our excess capacity. Our roads are congested beyond belief, and our infrastructure is crumbling. These are all issues our legislators have known about for many years.

Do my solutions sound absurd? They do to me as I type this commentary. However, the absurd should be in the realm of possibilities since we have allowed the state government to operate in absurd mode for three decades.

Our state taxes in every category are in the top one to three in the nation. The state has issued IOUs. Now, the state is attempting to take an additional 10 percent in withholding from our paychecks as a “loan”. I am sorry, but I do not want to loan the state money. They are pulling every financial rabbit out of the hat instead of dealing with the harsh realities of making massive cuts to the bureaucracy.

We have some extremely difficult decisions to make right now, and our elected officials are afraid of making the tough choices as they do not want to jeopardize their chances for reelection and their power-grip over each of us.

We the sheeple can continue to entrust our leaders, or throw each incumbent out of office. We need to act to stop the ridiculous policies, force the government to pursue standards of fiscal responsibility, and restore our state to the envy of the nation that it once was. Or, we can continue to get that insufficient funds notification when we try to make a withdrawal from the state’s ATM.


Israel's educational system has been in trouble for a long time

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said yesterday that Israel's educational system has been in trouble for a long time. He told a conference organized by the newspaper Globes in Tel Aviv that it would be possible to improve education with additional budgets, but that can only occur when there is economic growth.

"It is important to provide every student the ability to achieve [his potential]," Netanyahu said, speaking of the need to provide all students, regardless of their background, the necessary tools for educational development. He spoke of the need to include various populations - such as Haredim, Arabs and Druze - within the educational system.

"The managerial problem [for schools] is no less critical. It is possible to invest a lot of money and still not succeed," the prime minister said. "The proper mix of budget, management and technology is the key to educational progress."

"There is a clear relationship between investment in education and Israel's success," Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar told the conference. "The country's future is in its human capital. This is clear from the recent achievements we have seen in science, which are the result of past investments in education."

However, Sa'ar said the OECD's recent report, Education at a Glance, "reflects a sorry picture at every stage of Israeli education. The investment in every one of these stages is significantly less than the average in OECD nations. For example, it turns out that Israeli teachers earn about 40 percent of the international average salary." "We must continue to expand the process of raising teachers' pay," he added. "Rebuilding the ethos of teaching needs to be the top priority."

The principal of the Gymnasia Herzliya high school in Tel Aviv, Dr. Zeev Degani, said yesterday in response: "There are many examples of schools whose students have reached high levels of achievement, despite heavy criticism against their principals. The difficult and more fundamental problem is that nothing in the educational system is tested in depth over the long term. Education ministers change every few years - and with them the reforms, plans and agendas also change."


A Leftist government cuts the bureaucracy to spend more on teachers!

Sadly, it is only in faraway Tasmania (population 500,000) but it shows what is possible

Tasmania's special schools have received a funding boost. The Tasmanian Government is investing an extra $930,000 a year to provide 10 new teachers. Tasmania has three main special schools catering for about 150 students with disabilities.

The Premier and Education Minister, David Bartlett, says the extra money has been cut from bureaucracy and re-invested in front-line services. "[Thereby] ensuring that parents who choose special schools over inclusion in regular schools have a fantastic level of to provide more in the way of art, in music, in PE, for special needs students," he said.

Mr Bartlett today toured the new southern campus for children with disabilities. The revamped Hazelwood school on Hobart's eastern shore will open next year but the cost has blown out from $3 million $4.6 million. Mr Bartlett is not concerned, saying he made a promise to parents. "We wouldn't be penny-pinching or cutting corners. It has cost a bit extra," he said.

Leanne Wright, from the Education Union, says it has taken almost two years to address a funding shortfall. "I presume part of that would be because of the Global Financial Crisis," she said.


1 comment:

Larry Sheldon said...

I wish you posted each item as a separate post, both to facilitate commenting, and to facilitate point others to the interesting item.

Wit respect to California being run by incompetents....

That is wrong on several levels--the worst being that it triggers awww, poor dears, they try so hard responses.

Incompentennce is not inherently evil. The goings-on in California, Washington, District of Chicago, and elsewhere is evil.

And I would say that their efforts to destroy us are displaying considerable competence.