Response to Tootie Smith’s article "Second Round of budget talks pay off"
TEACHERS, THE FUTURE, AND THE STRUCTURE OF PUBLIC EDUCATION
by James L. Buchal
Representative Smith continues to put the happy face on continued mismanagement of the State in her latest article, entitled "Second round of budget talks pay off". She claims the new budget is "fair and responsible".
Representative Smith proudly notes that K-12 education funding increased by "only 10% from the 1999-2001 budgets". That means 10% more growing bureaucracy of State control to drown teachers and children in a tide of debilitating paperwork and testing. Wake up folks, the only meaningful tests, like SATs, have been declining for years. Everyone is working too hard on things other than learning to support what has become a large parasite, the State. This is the pattern of history that we are condemned to repeat if we cannot learn from history, like the Founders.
Most Oregonians are falling for a big lie, which is that increased spending increases the quality of education. All that it has done is pushed more spending to PC causes, like spending 30% of one District’s budget on 5% of the "special needs" kids. Does anybody remember when elementary schools had virtually nothing but students, teachers and principals in them? Local school districts need the freedom to spend their own budgets, and the freedom to collect them.
A great deal of money—and more importantly, class time--is wasted on such things as "environmental assemblies" and self-esteem programs. One program recently given in the Canby School District brought in a musical theatre company to tell the children that raising cows killed people in third world countries by taking away their grain, eating meat caused "reproductive disorders", and even that cow farts caused global warming from cow farts—as well as pushing every other Leftist position imaginable.
Worse still, somewhere along the line, we allowed moral instruction to decay from the levels of the Gospels of Jesus to West African fairy tales. We are raising a generation that equates animal rights to human rights because they remain in a cartoon world, not taught about reality. It's up to us to make the choice between the Judeo-Christian ethic and more primitive life philosophies that can cripple our children's futures.
Oregonians need to start paying more attention on what schools are teaching, and get the Legislature out of the school board business entirely. You can't improve education legislating at 60.000 feet from the state level; you only distract the People from focusing on the right problems. What if the only state school official were the Superintendent, who traveled about focusing upon one or two problem districts, and could call for a vote of confidence in their boards?
Representative Smith even claims that "we referred a measure to voters to create Oregon's first 'rainy day fund' designed specifically to protect education"—the Education Stability Fund. In fact, as the Legislative Fiscal Office points out, the measure proposes to amend the Constitution to rob the Education Endowment Fund to provide a $200 plug for the Legislature's failure to cut spending. This is but one of nearly $480 million in Enron-style accounting gimmicks the Legislature found to avoid the hard work of cutting spending. Maybe the economy will improve, as Representative Smith boldly forecasts, and the gimmickry will not weigh more heavily upon Oregonians in the future. And maybe it won’t.
We already have citizens groaning under a heavy tax burden to support armies of regulators gone berserk. Everyone knows of a struggling business that is under attack from the State. And even though the bureaucrats have devastated those in our District who depend on using natural resources, the "Republican" Legislature saw fit to increase spending on "natural resources"—war on those who use them—by 17.2%. Do we really need a State Farm Police force?
Wouldn’t it be nice if the State’s budget didn’t go up for once? Lots of citizens don’t get big raises after two years. And wouldn’t it be nice if the Legislature could find at least one category of funding to reduce? Can’t we trust local government to do anything by itself? The only category of spending where the Legislature actually succeeded in making a reduction in spending was higher education, with a 10% cut. How much longer can we afford leaders who focus on pork rather than principle? Aren't we failing in our duty as citizens here? We need think hard about how we want our government to be structured, and return to the decentralized vision of the Founders. They knew more history than we do. And its not going to be easy, because as Frederick Douglas said: "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will."
Wouldn’t you really rather elect a Representative that will risk a little bad press and tell the truth about what is going on in Oregon. There's a lot more truth in this website. This election isn't going to change things right away, but a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single footstep. Give me a call 503-227-1011 (or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org) and let me try and talk you into helping me.
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