Sunday, February 19, 2006

Darren has me riled up on his blog. Come along for the ride!

Darren's blog is OVER HERE!


Here's a copy of my response about federal funding to schools.

What's to pay for?

You could start by paying teachers a professional wage for a career that requires post-graduate work.

Then you pay for all the people you are going to need to hire to help pass English Language Learners, since NCLB makes very little distinction when calculating scores if the student has any comprehension in English, or not.

Then you can bring back all the Title One money you are about to cut from the budget. See, since the Federal government refuses to address the crisis of illegal immigrants in California (under federal jurisdiction), the State is under more pressure to, again, pass a standardized test that has no point except to satisfy some lame political agenda.

Then pay for the vocational projects that you continue to cut since you have your head up your ass about everyone needing to follow the college prep courseline. God forbid that a student can't do algebra, but can weld an aircraft carrier blindfolded. Makes perfect sense to cut the funding to essential programs. You know; electricians, plumbers, welders, auto techs, craftsmen.....those industries that don't involve an NCLB mandated test.

Then pay for the Special Education laws that President Ford signed us into in 1975, paving the way for schools to spend massive amounts of money meeting every single need of kids that are given an IEP. Then also pay for the hundreds of thousands that the district has to pay in court costs to try and fight unreasonable parents that constantly abuse the law.

Oh yea, speaking about the President's Special Education law (ie: unfunded mandate), he better be quick with the cash. Over the last 10 years, special education costs to the districts have risen over 200%.

Speaking of funding, lets not forget the wonderful categorical cash programs that schools are promised year after year, and then denied when it comes time to pay up. Digital High School, Safe and Drug Free Schools and Vocational Education. Like any other institution, schools budget for this funding, and depend on receiving it.

And as for the "opting out" clause of NCLB, we are either naive or lying now aren't we? You think that the Federal government would simply sit back and leave California alone, not executing some other withholding if they didn't go with the program (speed limit ring a bell?) Since we happen to be the largest contributor to the Federal tax base, I propose that California withhold that estimated percentage of Federal Education spending, and apply it directly to the schools! That way, we can actually pay for the social services (you know, busing, food, shelter, utilities, mandated textbooks, IEP modifications, assistants, police, books for libraries) for kids that are coming across the border under the nose of the federal government. Maybe then the government will consider funding the right programs, not some stupid ass "American Competitiveness Initiative", which is poli-speak for "I haven't a goddamn clue about what is really going on in the classroom, but this sounds really profound."

As a Republican, yes, a Republican, I'm all for eliminating total Federal interference in the Education system. Make the system state and local (eliminate the county level while we are at it) and create educational INSTITUTIONS. Eliminate the "Oakland" style of budgeting and demand accountability. Demand more from students, administrators and teachers, but fund what you mandate. I'm still waiting for the "fiscal responsibility" portion of my party. I'm not into drinking the Neo-con Koolaid that so many Republicans seem to be satisfied with. It isn't as black and white as you think.

And if you have to ask "What to pay for?" in this state, in this day and age, then you are obviously not a high school teacher.
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