Before we increase the education budget I think we need to deal with the massive amounts of waste. In a state as large as California I have no doubt that there will always be some degree of waste. We’ll never have a completely efficient educational system and that’s fine. But too often I hear people clamoring for an increased educational budget (and therefore higher taxes to pay for it). Many in that same camp suggest that those who oppose higher education spending are somehow against education, or children, or want to abandon our public schools. This is certainly not the case.
A study recently came out from Stanford (hardly a hotbed of financial conservatism) and here’s some info on it:
Every study of California's school dilemma, including the 1,700-page opus produced by a Stanford University team, has pointed out the correlation between socioeconomic status and academic success.
A new monograph by the Legislature's budget analyst points out that the state has more than 45 programs spending more than $9 billion in state and federal funds to help the 3 million "ED" kids to overcome academic problems. But as the report, released Tuesday, concludes, "We believe California's existing approach for helping these students fails on virtually every score."
$9 billion wasted. This is what happens when you throw money at a problem and think that will solve it. Lots of ineffective programs, staggering waste, and no help for the children who need it. What’s worse is that these programs aren’t likely to be changed or done away with. Such is the nature of government sprawl.
This study also confirmed what many teachers “on the ground” already know: a huge part of a student’s academic success is determined by their home circumstances. For various reasons, some legitimate and some not, many parents are completely unengaged in their kids’ education and do nothing to encourage them. Until that problem is dealt with you can throw all the money you want down the abyss of “helping the children” but it’s never going to do anything. Truly caring for students doesn’t mean wasting your money in order to make yourself feel better. That’s too easy. Truly caring for students means finding out how to fix the real problems and putting the efforts there.
I say this as someone who is going to have an incredibly difficult time finding a job this next school year. I’m finishing my credential program this year and the district I work in is losing millions of dollars and has already instituted a hiring freeze. It will take a small miracle for me to get a job as a full time social science teacher this next year. But I don’t want to raise taxes to increase California’s educational budget.
The money’s already there…it’s just being flushed down the toilet.