photo © 2005 Bart Everson | more info (via: Wylio)
I live with a six year old boy. He is constantly pondering this world we live in. “What if cars could fly?” What if? “What if dogs had two heads?” What if? “What if we ate breakfast for dinner and dinner for breakfast?” What if?
After all the kerfluffle in the New Hampshire media about educational funding (HB39, the push to repeal Kindergarten etc.) I have a “what if” of my own.
What if, we stopped treating education as the red-headed step-child and instead made it the Queen? What if we actually poured money into the educational system rather than targeting it for cuts at every turn?
I have my theories about the outcome of such wild ideas. If our system of education was fully funded, class sizes would be smaller and children would get more individualized attention. Students would truly be able to learn at their own pace. Children with mental or developmental challenges could be identified early and their issues addressed through additional support or services. This would give them the tools they need to feel successful early on thus building confidence as they make their way through school.
In New Hampshire, the legislature wants to shift control of funding and curriculum away from the state and into the hands of local districts. While local control sounds great (let US decide what our kids are taught BOOYAH!) From a big picture perspective this idea has disaster written all over it. It all comes down to money. We don’t have an income or sales tax here, so the majority of our revenue is raised via property taxes. There are a number of communities throughout the state with little or no commercial tax base.Their funds are raised almost exclusively from fees and property taxes. No one EVER wants to pay higher property taxes, so funding for the basics (albeit necessities) like roads and schools is very hard to come by.
By keeping the control of the curriculum at the state level, you insure that funding for schools can only be cut so far. I understand the frustration of the “unfunded mandate”, but on this issue, I err on the side of insuring the availability of a good education for all.
Education leads to a skilled work force and innovation both of which are critical to building a strong economy. A strong economy typically means a lower crime rate which means fewer people are incarcerated which means less taxes. A strong economy means lower unemployment. Lower unemployment leads to less welfare. Less welfare leads to lower taxes. Lower taxes leads to more discretionary income.
If we want to break the cycle, we have to insure that every child gets a solid education. A good education costs money, but in my opinion it is money well spent. I’d rather pay for the positive of education than the negative of incarceration or long-term welfare.