Sunday, March 28, 2010

Public education is a big part of the future of the United States. Ben Bernanke, PhD in economics from MIT, states that education is a key component of our economy: it supplies our economy with skilled individuals who could drive it as generations come and go. Richard Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at The Century Foundation, explains that education plays a key role in democracy: informed citizens make informed decisions. Even Brittany Liebenow believes in public education.
In recent years, as our debt grows and our economy fall into chaos, we found ourselves in a very incontinent position faced with an incontinent truth: the finitude of our budget. While Obama is pushing for education reforms (ESEA), the jurisdiction of public education ultimately lies with the states. Limited budget means that money for education is a zero-sum game. Fortunately for some, many states recognize the importance of education and decided to increase taxes in order to sustain funding for education. Unfortunately for the rest, other states are turning their backs on education and making cuts to public schools in order to sustain their budgets.
Unfortunately for us, Georgia is one of those latter states. The budget as of now is looking at more than 2 billion dollars cut from education. As a result, Fulton County has to cut out school sponsored activities and teachers. Things such as after school activities, music programs, clubs, sports are all at risk. More importantly is the latter: cutting out teachers. This would mean that the student teacher ratio would increase, which would means that the quality of education that each student gets would decrease. This also means that there will be less subject areas that would be taught in the schools; Fulton County Board of Education is specifically looking at subject areas that are not part of the core (required) education. This would mean that the flexibility of choosing high school courses is jeopardized.
This cut, for me, is ridiculously stupid for many reasons. First reason is that there are states that we can model after to prevent these cuts. Other states increased tobacco taxes; I do not see why Georgia could not (unless Georgia is just afraid that people would stop smoking and become healthier if they did that, which is actually a possibility because according to PRNewswire, Georgia ranked dead last among the states in the area of smoking prevention). Second reason is that I can’t see why Georgia would put education so low on the priority list. Surely there are some other spending cuts that could be made. Third reason is that, well, the short term solution is sitting right in front of us; something like, I don’t know, 90 million dollars of stimulus fund. Fourth is that I do not understand why Georgia is so scare of raising taxes. First of all, raising certain taxes (such as tobacco taxes) is popular for the public, which means that, you know, they would pay and not complain.
As you can see, I am not amused by this decision by Georgia. Let’s just hope we could have something done to somehow change the government’s mind. We should also hope for the passage of the ESEA amendment.

PRNewswire thing just in case you thought I was kidding

Also tobacco taxes are popular

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