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Tuesday, May 24, 2005

10 minutes with : Student advocacy

This morning I caught a more Texascentric slant on the usual morning drive-time NPR. The local affiliate, KERA, evidently held some sort of high school student essay contest regarding school funding here in the Lone Star State. Today they let the winner of said contest read her editorial on the air.

Disclaimer and Disclosure: I really do not know much about school funding here in Texas. I know the legislature is currently working on an overhaul of the system, but I just haven't taken the time to look into it. Also, I don't give a damn, as long as they're not raising taxes. Fortunately, ignorance of an issue has never stood in the way of me formulating and defending a position.

I actually do have very strong opinions on public education -- some of which are not shared by a majority of the public at large. For example, unlike most people, I have no great respect for teachers; I believe that the teachers unions care about children about the same amount as baggage handler unions care about luggage; and I firmly believe that, within reason, there is no direct correlation on how much money is spent on education and the quality thereof.
All of this said, this essay contest thing bothered me, not so much for the subject matter, per se, as how politicized the whole thing was. If you can't tell, here's my problem in a nutshell: It appears that KERA is sponsoring a political advertising campaign against school finance reform under the guise of a non-partisan essay contest. How many essays do you think they got on this issue that said something like: "The State should get out of school funding and return the issue to where it belongs, the localities"? Check out a few sentences from the well-written winning essay:

Perhaps the most grievous fault of the bill is that it harbors inequity among students under the guise of lower taxes.

We are getting rid of Robin Hood because it steals from the rich, but we have replaced it with a plan that essentially robs the poor.

Rather than slicing property taxes as House Bill no.2 proposes, Texans will have to pony up the money to invest in our kids' future.
This isn't an essay on how funding works, this is a political polemic, pure and simple. This "contest" is clearly cut from the same cloth as teachers who use children to advocate higher teacher pay. This isn't the Peoples' Weekly World it's National Public Radio, but I think in this case such may be a distinction without a difference.

The obvious goal of the creators of this "contest" was to get children involved in their political drive to raise taxes. This issue isn't about dollars in the classroom, it is about increasing spending -- a fine but important distinction. This is about more cash for teachers and administrators -- not about better education. To believe otherwise is to fall for the old canard that more money equals better schools. It simply isn't true. For example, a recent analysis of state funding shows that Red Lick Independent School District has the second lowest per student funding in the state at $4,649 but is ranked as "exemplary," while San Vicente Independent School District is spending over six time as much per student ($28,432) and is only rated as "recognized."

My point is not that school funding should be cut or even remain stagnant, but that despite the complex and contentious nature of the issue, public radio has decided to use my tax money to push an agenda that isn't mine, by having a child who doesn't pay taxes and who is the major beneficiary of public education spending lecture me on the issue and my moral responsibilities.

I do, however, look forward to the next contest in this series: Student Voices: The Legal Drinking Age.
 
Centinel 12:25 PM #

3 Comments:

I was looking for blogs referring to Dallas and found yours. Great blog! I'm in Dallas and here's some info about me
Interesting stuff.

Barbecue Bob
cartersville
A good read. I'm looking for info on the civil war and anything related to it.

Regards,

SCV member
Warren Akin

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