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Archive for March 5th, 2008

School Funding

I’m intrigued by why tax levies for schools continue to fail. Yesterdays voting showed signs that this remains to be a trend and I look at these results from two opposing perspectives. From either side it’s easy to conclude that residents are not keen on increasing taxes to fund schools.

It may be logical in that perhaps the current resources are being used poorly and a vote against increasing taxes would require better fiscal responsibility. Throwing money at a problem isn’t always the best way to solve it. Creativity and flexibility can be better choices.

On the other side, one has to wonder how our region of the country is going to remain competitive if voters continually choose to avoid paying for education. Investing in education is far more cost effective than paying for programs that attempt to clean up in the aftermath of poorly educated citizens.

These problems were keenly visible while I was living in Orlando. School systems were poorly funded and the result over time was a lack of corporate investment due to an under-educated workforce. Low paying jobs were the norm and for those who did seek a proper education most often had to leave Orlando to find quality jobs. As a secondary result the city suffered from the ability to provide adequate services because of a loss of corporate tax revenue.

While there is no income tax in Florida the state and cities depend upon property taxes and when fewer residents can afford to buy a home there is less revenue to be collected. Less revenue leads to lessening funds for schools and so begins the downward cycle.

When we look for creative and flexible solutions to providing quality education for the the general population the landscape appears to be barren. Teachers are caught between unions and federal mandates, neither of which seem to be focused on the students. They’re stuck between having to be wardens and mentors, enforcers of test results and inspirations to a child’s self discovery.

It’s common to hear the theme of how important our children are to the future of the nation and to the future of our economy during election years. The challenge is that the words are just that. Hollow words that make for great sound bites but with no tangible meaning or creative solution to back them. We appear more willing to build prisons to house our adult children and pay for police to apprehend them than we are to build schools where their adult lives can be groomed for enrichment and fulfillment

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