I have a pop quiz for you! Name one community that is not facing serious funding issues with their educational system?
Educational funding is the focus of the day. As parents, teachers, administrators, school board members and supporters of education, we all share a common concern, when will the bleeding stop?
When we band together and seek support from our decision makers, usually those who serve in our state legislatures, we receive little comfort. In most cases we hear our elected leaders say “I don’t know what to do.” They say we have no money, yet they continue to fund local projects or cut taxes even more. An example from my state of South Carolina, a short time ago the state legislature traded a property tax source for a penny sales tax increase. This legislation, called Act 388, has been a disaster for education. School districts have suffered several multi-million dollar hits to our budget which, left un-addressed, will eventually have a painful impact on the classroom.
When we try to resolve these issues with the decision makers in our state capitals, we usually hear, “we need to use all available funds for economic development.” What in the world is a high quality learning environment? Is it not seen as economic development?
You’ve probably heard me say this before, but . . .
When a business looks to build in a community, its leadership looks at the schools and roads. If both are not top quality they look elsewhere. Employers know that their employees are going to look for the best schools. They are going to look for a school that is safe; secure; healthy; technologically equal and modern; an environment that helps make learning fun and successful. That’s economic development. Support schools and support growth.
Now, how does this tie into the title? The answer is easy. For far too many years we have been forced to elect politicians who choose to ignore the toughest issues of today. They would rather point fingers, and blame. Long gone are the days when we elected elder statesmen who would find solutions, not excuses. We, as parents and community supporters of education, need to start today in finding those who will take on the hard topics of today and deal with them. We need to elect officials who care more about dealing with problems head-on and not the next election or fund-raiser. Until we collectively address these issues year after year we’re going to see education take a back seat to other interests. If left un-addressed everyone will suffer.
Find a statesman!
Until next time,
Charles J. “Chuck” Saylors- president, National PTA