Indulgent Commentary: In the end I pay and so do you

Posted: August 25, 2011 in Education, Indulgent Commentary
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Something needs to change. The federal government budget issues impact state government budget issues, which impacts the programs used by the citizens of this country.  In the end we all pay the price for the deficit.  The trend has been:

  1. The federal cuts funding support for a particular program that it couldn’t commit to in its budget without raising federal taxes or cutting some other program.
  2. The  state then needs to pick up the added expense,
  3. but the state can’t afford it without cutting some other program or raising state taxes.
  4. In the end the program loses out.

It doesn’t matter to me which part of the government is having problems funding the program because I end up paying for it either in federal taxation, state taxation or in the experience of a diminishing program.

Education Cuts

This very sequence of events is happening with education today.  In my school district the board of education had to cut $2.163 million out of the budget for the next two years.  Now that may not sound like a lot of money, but our town is small – really small.  We wouldn’t even be considered a suburb of a suburb.  I think the population is about 12,000 people.

Out of this $2.163 million, $500,000 went toward personnel cuts.  This amounted to 8 certified positions, which includes teachers and a counselor, and 36 non-certified position.  The non-certified positions included  media assistants, special education assistants, English as a second language assistants, transportation specialist, custodians, campus monitor, in-school suspension assistant, math assistants and reading assistants.  Let’s take a moment and categorize these cuts:

Infrastructure

  • transportation specialist
  • custodians
  • campus monitor

Support for students having difficulties or learning disabilities or are struggling to get an education

  • special education assistants
  • English as a second language assistants
  • in-school suspension assistant
  • math assistants
  • reading assistants
  • Counselor

Additional education impacts

  • media assistants
  • Teachers

Who is taking the biggest hit here?  Children that are having difficulties in school.  This is infuriating to me because my family is personally affected.  These cuts not only affect the education that a child is receiving, but it is also affecting the teachers (that still have their jobs) ability to teach.  They now have to continue educating with out these critical services.  This now impacts all children.  This gives the teacher less time for each child because she/he can only do so much as one individual. Either the coverage of educational topics or quality of education is diminished.

The children with special needs will be hindered in advancing in education or even worse are just passed on and become the next grade’s problem.  Eventually the student graduates from school and has not learned the basics of reading, math, and language.  Guess what happens to that person when they have to join the rest of us in adult society.  Can they stand on their own?  Will they be able to get a job?  Will they get a job that will pay them enough to actually pay for housing, food, and medical health care?  What is the first thing they will have cut because they can’t afford it?  It is the health care.  Unfortunately many of these individuals have health issues and will not be able to maintain their health because they can’t afford it.  This all becomes a spiral fall to disaster.

On a personal basis my son will be losing access to a reading assistant.  He is already three years behind his peers.  He will also lose his math assistant, which he is also already 3 1/2 years behind his peers.  He will lose help when he is having a medical emergency and needs to have assistance.  Instead his teachers will have to provide all of this.  It is impossible and my son loses. It is not his fault that he has medical problems which have caused learning disabilities and other debilitating circumstances.  It is this “extra” help that is moving his education forward.  Now what do I do? My son deserves an education.  How does he get it? Yes, the federal government did not raise my taxes.  Yes, the state government did not raise my taxes.  Yes, the school board cut the programs that my child needs and in the end he does not get an education.  In my opinion the federal government, and the state government have let me and my son down.  It is not right.  They are more interested in getting re-elected, which is why they don’t want to raise taxes, than in doing what is right.  How about looking for wasted money?  We know it exits.  Why sacrifice my son for a bridge to nowhere?

There are other examples of how budget cuts are affecting our communities.  Our state closed down a visitor center along a major interstate road which coincidentally is located in the middle of the town I live in.  Unfortunately, their method of closing it down was to cover the sign with black tar paper, block the entrance and exit roads, take down the flags, and leave the site in disrepair.  Weeds and grass are overtaking the area.  The building is not being maintained.  So now the Welcome To….. Visitor Center is a big eye sore in my town.  It is kind of hard to encourage people to move to this area or to bring new commerce into a community which has a visitor center that makes the place basically look like a slum.  The government will not allow banks to leave their real estate property in disrepair.  Why is the government allowed to do this?

There is also a small state park in our state located near my home town that the state decided to shut down.  (There is probably more than one.) This park was not a camping park.  Instead it was a picnic and swimming area.  In fact it was a highly used park which often did not have room in the parking lot. I am not happy that they closed it down, but what bothers me even more is how they closed it.  This included taking out the outdoor toilets, discontinuing to have a part-time attendant to sell and monitor the state park stickers, and they ripped out the black-topped roadway and parking lot. Why?  We tax payers not only lost a recreation site, but also had to pay the state to tear up a road that didn’t need to be tore up.  People would have continued using this park without the state maintaining it.  The roadway was not causing them any more money.  What a waste.  It probably cost more money to tear up that road than it did to maintain the park.

I apologize for the griping but this whole process for budget short-falls is not working.  Whether you tax me to pay for a program or I end up paying for the loss of the program it doesn’t matter.  In the end I pay.  If it doesn’t come out of my right pocket then it comes out of my left pocket.  When will government officials wake up and see this?  Why is re-election more important than doing what is right for the citizens of this country.  More importantly when are the people going to get out-raged and use their voting power to set a different trend?

I would also bet that if they were really doing their job and truly managing their expenditures there wouldn’t need to be any tax increases.  That’s their job.  If you take the time to look at some of the legislature that is passed you would be shocked how much money is wasted on pet projects that have no value for the people of this country.  I say, set term limits.  No more this life time career, where the individual gets embedded in the corruption of the system.  No more government officials out of touch with the people they represent.  This may sound crazy, but I think it would solve a lot of issues.  Unfortunately this will never happen because the people who have to change the law are the people abusing their position.  The people of this country need to demand a change.

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