Thursday, March 11, 2010

The end of public education?

I've just read how the KC school district is going to shut down nearly half (29 of 61) of their schools because of their budget crisis. Oh, I say they've seen nothing yet. As more and more state reek more and more red for their fiscal irresponsibilities as well as their dependence on a corrupt and bancrupt federal government, things are going to get a heck of a lot worse before they get better. Seems much of what I observed during my one year tenure is being verified.

Seems that KC is reeking in red ink so they have taken the what many see as drastic measure to balance the books by shutting 29 of their schools. For those that like percentages, that's 47.5% of their schools. As shocking as that number is, that wasn't the number that got my attention. Massive closures are something I do expect to happen in the years to come as it's inevitable given the corrupt and dysfunctional system we have today. It was the number of lay-offs. 750 people including 285 teachers. Think what that means for a sec. Of the 750 people, 285 are teachers. That's only 38%. That means 62% of the cuts in their labor costs are non-teachers. This comes as no surprise, but how little attention that's given. I've often state that the public education system is too top heavy. I remember all those administrators at Vallejo Unified that had names that sounded made up with 100K plus salary. With about 150 teachers total, that would be $75 a month increase for every one of those useless administrator and remember in the public education there's 112 administrator for every 100 teachers or 52.8% and they make at least $25k more than the highest paid teacher. Private education has 12 administrators for every 100 teachers or 10.7% and don't come close to ripping off the system with exaggerated overpayment. At least KC did one thing right, they're laying off a great deal more of the fat by having 62% of the lay offs administrative with is nearly 10% higher than the national average.

Here in California, the strain is starting to crack the system. What was once a rich suburban school district, the one I graduated from in 1983, is now on the verge of complete financial ruin. When the town incorporated into a city, they imported city problems including disdaining the productive members of society and embracing the non-productive. Now mainly the non-productive live there bringing the crime and blight that comes with it. They got really hammered during the housing bubble burst. Now, to cut on the costs while avoiding closing those new schools they built, most less than 5 year old, they're going to end all athletics. No football, gymnastics, volleyball, basketball, softball, track, baseball, NADA! Never ever has it been heard that a school is shutting down their athletics department and if you're a student athlete trying to get a athletic scholarship. Well, you're SOL so either they're not going to go to that school or forfeit that option. Many schools are going to end their freshmen programs while cutting the arts, club, and music programs. What's an artist (I had one that had lost his interest in school since they didn't have art anymore), musician, and those interests out of the norm of reading, writing, arithmetic, history or science to do now?

I just recently found out the school that I speak with such esteem . . . ok contempt, has finally succumb to the rumors and reality. The Vallejo School District finally shut the school down. Frankly, for most of the teachers that worked there I feel their pain as I have been going through it for nearly 2 years now, but as for the administration that allowed the school to become the decadent institution that it was, I have no sympathy and find that in the darkness of this crisis, there is some ream of justice as those administrators did get their pinks as well. Most of the teachers, so far, will most likely find work else where, especially those in the math and sciences, but who will want to hire over priced administrators from a district that let gangs run wild? As well as for how much longer as the school districts go through more and more shrinkage? Not even in Detroit since they shut down 27 schools of their own though with 172 left, they haven't gone to the extreme KC has, but will you want to bring more of what's bringing you down and for how much longer can they avoid their shrinkage? Who knows.

I figured the public education system was in trouble. Nobody with a brain that actually works can deny that. What is surprising me is that despite the economic turmoil, I'm shocked that it's happening so radically so quickly. I guess I overestimated the government ability to keep the illusion any further as well as underestimated the school district's ability to face reality. The biggest question will be what will the governments and citizen will do about it. I find more and more are opting for home schooling. Given how the dangerous and dysfucntional nature of many of the schools are, that's a wise decision. The corrupt teacher's union that does nothing for the students, home schooling is gaining traction. One thing for sure, as budgets get more and more anemic, just crowding more students into fewer classroom isn't going to hold for much longer as it breeds more unsafe and disruptive environments. Given how all the arts, those subjects that gave us the education to have something after the 9 to 5 jobs, are now all but gone and the education system inability to education the few subject matters that they have now, without a major overhaul, this very well could be the beginning of the end of the great public experiment in education.

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