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Letters: Common-sense school funding cuts
I have been hearing a lot of talk about how the state Legislature must address school funding this session. And seeing how practically every school district in the state is suing the state over the school funding cuts made in the last legislative session, the talk is probably right.
I know that school finance is supposed to be a huge and complicated issue, with way too many facets for the common person to understand. But here is a common-sense solution from a common man to solve the problem that I think can work. And seeing how it is guaranteed to upset everyone, I might just be right. So here it is.
First, we start by taking away the ability of school districts to levee or collect tax. That should make all of the school administrators start pulling their hair out. They just lost a lot of power. But it is not their job to be tax collectors. Their job is to teach our kids.
Second, and this is the most controversial part of the plan, institute a state income tax or property tax (not both) to fund the schools. I know this would require a constitutional amendment to the state Constitution. The wording of this amendment should be done in a manner so that there is no legal way to syphon funds away for other uses. All of the funds would have to go to the schools. They could be used for no other reason. That also means that they could not be used as collateral for loans or bonds as well. Any interest from the funds would also have to be used for education as well. This would have to be made rock solid in the amendment. The tax should be a flat tax on a progressive scale. And this is key. Any increases in the tax would have to be approved by the voters.
Third, and this is going to upset the teacher unions to no end, do not send the funds directly to the school district based on student population. Send the funds back to the parents and guardians of the students. The vouchers would be issued on a sliding scale, with poor and middle income students receiving vouchers that would cover all of the costs that are taken care of under the current inadequate funding system. That puts the power of educational choice back into the hands of parents and guardians where it belongs. It will also make schools improve their curriculum, so that they can attract students. These vouchers would be good at all schools. It would not matter if they are secular or religious, or whether they have a liberal or conservative curriculum. It would be up to the parents and guardians instead of so-called know-it- alls that try to put all kids into the same pigeonhole.
Now this suggestion is a way of funding schools, but it does not address the growing cost of education. Here are a few suggestions on that front.
First, a school building does not have to be an architectural masterpiece. All it needs to be is functional. I would rather have the money spent on educational tools that go in the building, i.e. computers, books, etc. Second, and there will be an example of this, there are way too many chiefs and not enough Indians in the schools these days. In other words, cut back on non-classroom personnel. This is what I mean. My daughter goes to the same high school that I graduated from. The student population is about the same, give or take. The difference in non-classroom personnel has jumped dramatically though. When I was going there, we had one principal, one vice principal, and two student counselors. Now the school has a principal, an assistant principal, four vice principals, and five to six student counselors. Could somebody explain to me why we need such a top-heavy office?
These are just a few things that I have thought of over the last couple of months. Let’s see if our so-called learned leaders can come up with a better common-sense approach to the problem.
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