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Saving Our Children’s Future but Will They Survive the Present?

Dear Commons Community,

Much of the rhetoric we hear about budget cuts revolves around the need  to save our children and grandchildren from the crushing debt that our elected leaders in both Washington and in state capitols are imposing on future generations.   We all recognize that much of the increase in our deficits for the past ten years are the results of our war policies, corporate  bailouts/stimuli to spur a poor economy as well as domestic programs.

Paul Krugman,  in a column entitled, Leaving Children Behind, subtitled Texas, Budget Cuts, and Children, takes a look at how  Texas law makers  are preparing to cut the budget on programs for children where:

“The high school graduation rate, at just 61.3 percent, puts Texas 43rd out of 50 in state rankings. Nationally, the state ranks fifth in child poverty; it leads in the percentage of children without health insurance. And only 78 percent of Texas children are in excellent or very good health, significantly below the national average. “

David Brooks in,  The New Normal,  also looks at where the budget ax will be falling and mentions specifically cuts to Headstart programs at the federal level and Hawaii’s recent decision to reduce the number of days in the school year.

While all of us will likely suffer as a result of  budget cuts to domestic programs and eventually new taxes, I agree with Krugman and Brooks, please do not use the ruse that we are saving the future of our children by destroying their present.

Tony

3 comments

  1. Krugman attempts to use the argument that education results are directly proportional to the amount of money spent per child whereas historically and factually, the more money spent the lower the educational level.
    I believe one of the reasons this is true is due to the quality of teachers and/or the mindset of most teachers as a group (I know some excellent dedicated teachers but on a national scale they are a minority). Also, I have first hand knowledge of how some of the money is spent…and its not on the children. Case in point…some years ago in Cranston Rhode Island, the School Board President complained that there was not enough money allocated for the ‘No Child Left Behind’ program and yet upon examination she utilized this money to give herself and some of her staff pay raises.
    My own personal experiences have shown that the quality of education in the United States has been degraded ever since the government got involved on a national scale…this is undeniable and can be traced back to the time prior to the federal Department of Education. There was no such monstrosity during my informative years nor the few hundred years preceding my arrival and on the whole education was pretty much a local issue with little or no complaints. I guess you would have to live the experience in order to appreciate such a time; I did.
    Norm

    • Norm,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this subject. I agree with some of your insight/analysis. As a former member of a board of education for nine years (1976-1985), I experienced the intrusion of requirements on the part of the federal government. It was not as bad then as it is now but still it involved investment of resources that we would have put to other uses.

      I don’t fully agree with your spending comments. I think that funding has a role to play in improving schools. It is surely not a one for one return on investment but I do think that student in a school with 30 students per class would do better if we could reduce the it to 20 students per class. The same would be true for facilities and student support services especially in our urban schools.

      Thanks again for the comments.

      Tony

  2. The present is all around us and that makes the future quite hard to understand! An interesting read you have posted here with some good rescources 🙂