Schools Hit Hard

editorial-logo3Nothing gives me indigestion more than politicians that talk out of both sides of their mouth. Just last week, I attended a lovely function put on by EDA that featured Randy Boyd as the Key Note speaker. He did a great job. I actually almost bought into the whole thrust of education and its importance to the current state administration (meaning Haslam). I wonder if Boyd, who has his own aspirations to sit in the big chair in Nashville, knew that, even as he was riding on the “education is cornerstone of economic development” bandwagon, his main man was cutting education funding to Jefferson County and other counties that depend heavily on state funds? I would like to think that he just wasn’t aware because he has a decent chance of making a run for the governorship and I would hate to believe that he shares Haslam’s point of view.

For fiscal year 2017/18 our governor, in his wisdom, has cut funding to Jefferson County Department of Education by $1 million dollars. Of that, around $90,000 was cut because we are supposedly in a better economic place. The other 90% of the million came from the adoption of a different formula that was designed to lessen the state’s contribution to local education. So, we have a head of state and legislators who believe that we, the taxpayers, should be paying for every, EVERY, graduating senior to go on to post secondary education. It doesn’t matter if they spent their four years of high school taking every under water basket weaving course they could find. It doesn’t matter if their entire two years of FREE education will be spent doing nothing more than remedial courses because they were unprepared for college or that many will never move beyond those remedial courses. We, you and me, we are paying for them to go to college because those that make the decisions on the state level want to be able to say that we are a more educated community. An educated work force helps attract industry, which is money. But, those same people are willing to take money away from public education in grades K-12 to fund their Drive 55 dream. Is anyone really buying what they are selling? People who believe in education and want a true educated society know that it doesn’t begin and end with college. Not unless you are simple wanting numbers and not really interested in truly educating our community. Real educational impact begins way before the first day of college or trade school. It begins in the K-12 classrooms. That is where the fundamentals are taught and the light begins to shine. That is where we should be pumping our resources.

Instead we are raping our K-12 schools to pad the numbers of an “educated workforce”. It is all about money. And, we are learning a dear lesson. Now some of neediest schools are doing without, as our colleges look for ways to dumb down the curriculum to make them eligible for state dollars that are going to fund students that are just not college material. Does that sound bad? That’s because it is bad. If a student does nothing to prepare themselves for college or trade school, how much success do you really think that they will find? Just like anything else, it takes a foundation to be ready for post high school education. And now the very institutions that do the preparation and lay the ground work for success are facing big funding cuts. I believe that we have an obligation to educate our community. But, I believe that it begins and ends in the K-12 systems. When did we get so backwards that we began to believe that K-12 just doesn’t matter and it is all about college? Folks, successful college students have an educational foundation and that comes from their K-12 schools. We are putting the cart, not just before, but instead of the horse and it is going to be really tough to pull it up hill.

Jefferson County Schools will feel the hit from the state decision makers. Shame on them for participating in this educational shell game. If Haslam and his pundits really want an educated society, let’s see them restore, or better yet, enhance funding to K-12. If they just want the numbers to attract another big company and secure another notch on their economic development belt, keep shuffling the shells around. You know, the only problem is that eventually someone actually follows the slight of hand and the game is over.

Gas tax + Surplus= K-12 funding cuts. I don’t know about you but that is one formula that I will never understand.

Source: K. Depew, News Director

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