WHERE IS ALL THE TAX MONEY GOING?
While most were deciding what to grill over the Labor Day holiday, I wrote this letter to express my utter frustration with our state’s public schools.
Like any other day, I woke up, checked a few local and national news sites and glanced through my Facebook newsfeed. Something stood out to me on this particular morning.
Donorschoose.org – a website once reserved for funding and assisting families with terminal illnesses and the occasional church mission trip – has now become a platform teachers use to raise money for materials in their classrooms.
My feed was filled with solicitations for what I would consider to be necessities in the classroom. This leads me to ask the following question: Where the hell is all of our tax money going and why are tools in the classroom now treated like a terminal illness?
In case you were unaware, second homes and commercial properties pay for school operations (while every real property owner pays taxes on school bonds). In some counties and municipalities this can equate to as much as 65 percent of their tax bill – or more.
Why in the world, then, are teachers having to beg for donations to give their students what they believe to be the best tools to learn?
Look at any school budget in the state and politicians readily hand over – almost to the penny – whatever schools request in their budgets. What county councilman or state lawmaker would dare stand up to a school and say “enough is enough?” None, because that politician would quickly be painted as hating “little Timmy” – discriminating against the potential mind that could one day cure cancer or solve the world’s energy problems.
People are so shortsighted. They have been conditioned to believe that more money equals less problems – yet we know that isn’t how the saying goes.
So what’s the cause of this? Or better yet, where can we look to at least remotely get on the right track?
I believe a couple of things. No. 1: Stop hiring overeducated superintendents that have multiple PhD’s yet have never so much as counted out change in the real world. The individuals in these positions rarely have any business sense and – let’s be honest – that is what our system needs right now.
No. 2: Competition, Competition! If these administrative jobs were merit-based – let’s say on SAT scores, college acceptance rates, and maybe scholarships obtained – you can bet your last bootleg copy of Reading Rainbow that they would be forced to actually try and solve the academic shortcomings in schools and stop burning money.
Instead most superintendents are products of academia, of theory – of the idea that they can just ask for more money and that will solve any problem. This is the exact logic that has placed our country and state on the brink financially.
Imagine there were a school in the next district over that allowed TEACHERS to actually give suggestions on what their students needed to learn and the materials they needed to do that (and you could actually take your child to that school district).
Guess what? If this were the case, every district would have to compete for the best teachers and students. Wouldn’t they receive the materials they need then? This is a serious problem, and we need individuals in administrative and elected positions who care enough about these children to start asking the tough questions.
Ask yourself: Would the current administrators ever dip into their own pockets and spend their money on classrooms? Because believe it or not, this is what many teachers have done (and continue to be forced to do) every single year.
I would encourage all of you to Google your local public school district’s budget. Your mind will be blown at the borderline negligent waste of our tax dollars. Next, talk to a teacher and see what they deal with. Ask them their salary – then ask an administrator theirs. Ask them how much of their own money they spend on their class then look at your school districts budget again. Do that a few times and you will probably wonder as I did: Why is this vicious cycle allowed?
School budgets keep increasing year after year and yet little to none of it is making it to the classroom where the teachers and students can utilize it.
More money is NOT the answer, better minds to properly appropriate monies currently is what is needed. I am not a big fan of government supported schools and believe it or not I am not a teacher. I am just tired of watching the “fat-cats” at the top act like a rich kid on his/her senior class trip with daddy’s credit card. Oh and it just so happens, we are “daddy” and actually just got laid-off, and apparently have a drinking problem. So it’s time to cut these bureaucrats off of our taxpayer credit card and make them actually be result oriented and fund the classrooms.
D.S. – Thank you for submitting this letter and allowing us to publish it. As you noted, more taxpayer money has indeed failed – repeatedly – to improve South Carolina’s government-run schools. This is why FITS has consistently championed the cause of market-based reform – and will continue to do so until our education system is truly held accountable to the children and parents it “serves.”
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(Banner image via Sic)