The talk in Raleigh today is about the school budget and our county commissioners’ agreement to fund only $12.3 million of the school system’s request for $29.4 million in funding increases. One reason for the ongoing stress in Wake County (for readers who are not familiar with the district) is the overwhelming growth of this county. The geographic location, Research Triangle Park, and the numerous world-class universities, in addition to other factors, have attracted immigrants from across the U.S. and around the world. We’re building new schools every year, and this costs.
But aside from that, the focus of the News & Observer article (Schools get mixed grades) is on numbers. They refer to Tony Pecoraro, a retired management consultant and “harsh critic of school spending”, and his ongoing personal examinations of the school system’s finances. I certainly understand the concern of tax payers, wanting assurance that their money is not being wasted. But I would suspect that Mr. Pecoraro owns a computer. Why isn’t he delving into the finances of IBM or DELL. He probably pays hard earned money for a car. Has he sifted through the ledgers of GM or Volvo? He pays for groceries, but I doubt that he examines data on the purchase, transport, and warehousing of his food. Why? For one reason, that information is not available to him. How convenient that school finance information is.
But if he did examine their records, would he find waste? I would hope so, though I would not call it waste. Competition in a time of rapid change requires that businesses take risks, and sometimes misspend money on ideas that, in the long run, do not pan out. I would expect no less from those who are preparing my children to compete in a global economy. If education were the well oiled machine that Pecoraro wants to assure, one that keeps turning out products, each like all the rest, not adapting to the new environment, then I would sincerely worry about my children’s future. In fact, I AM worried about my children’s future.
Mr. Pecoraro might even find evidence of unethical practices concerning tax payer moneys. He would be right to call attention to evidence of criminal behavior in school management, and to prosecute the offenders.
But don’t punish my children for it.
We are preparing our students for a future that we can barely imagine. The skills that they will need are different from those that I was taught in the 1950s and 60s, and for this reason, their classrooms must be dramatically different. In a flattening world where the U.S. is no long above the rest with its economy and technology, our sense of schooling must evolve. Not going forward today, is the same as going backward.
Be a patriot! Pay for the education today, that our future deserves.