“Most people are in favor of change, as long as they can continue to do things the same as they always have.” Bill Phillips
Here’s my own harsh paraphrase of this quote: “Most people are in favor of maintaining quality in education, as long as they don’t have to pay for it.”
Ok, that’s (purposely) over-stated, but, when the dust settles, what other general conclusion can we reach from the news that Springfield (MO) R-12 voters have recently defeated the Proposition SPS school bond issue?
I know. I’m not naïve. None of us (including me) wants more taxes. And yes, some of us (including this author) are on fixed incomes with their own kids no longer using the schools. Our own nest has been empty for years.
These circumstances are givens. They have always been there. On the other hand, this also means that there have always been folks who don’t really want increased taxes, along with folks whose nests were empty who have voted to pass school bonds for our children.
In this case, the school board appeared to have done an extensive job of bringing forth a solid plan to help maintain/improve quality – especially in facilities – in a variety of excellent ways, and the voters said no. How can this happen? If a pipe is leaking, do we say no to the plumber?
This is not only a local problem, of course. Are school bond issues becoming harder to pass in general? What happens nationwide when taxpayers choose not to help provide the funding to accomplish needed changes, updates, and improvements in our schools?
Note that no one is saying we should give any school board a frequent blank check. It is incumbent on taxpayers – and the boards – to make sure that homework is done properly, and that school boards are accountable. Fair enough. But, when that happens, and reasonable requests are made in timely fashion, how can we say no? Am I naïve, after all?
The conventional wisdom is that you get what you pay for. Implicit in that thought is the fact that you don’t get what you don’t pay for.
When school boards are forced to eliminate neighborhood schools, do we think they like it? When districts continue to cut various programs in the arts or eliminate staff – personal pet peeves – do we think the districts are being shortsighted? Or, upon reflection, are they merely exercising due diligence and reluctantly cutting what we won’t pay for? Who, then, is shortsighted?
The general public’s willingness to help fund public education has always been a cornerstone of our educational system. This necessity gets more crucial all the time. It gets urgent in this political climate where our new Secretary of Education would – and will – gladly cut every public education penny she possibly can.
We don’t have to wait for another bond election. Here’s a wild idea: Why not start a GoFundMe (or similar) project for your favorite school building or district? Have a cause in mind, if you must, but if so, visit with authorities first, and work with them! Hit the streets and social media, get interested parties on the bandwagon, and make a difference! Then wait 3 to 6 months and do it again!!
Paying for education in public schools is not an expense – it’s a necessary investment. And, for everyone’s sake, it cannot be neglected.