Sunday, September 26, 2010

Why I'm Voting NO on the EO Smith Field Construction

The last time this vote was taken the communities of Ashford, Mansfield and Willington voted No. And they did so largely because the project was too expensive. Although much has changed since then (the matter of a national economic meltdown that's politely called a 'recession'), relatively speaking we can still not afford to go forward with this.

Some personal insights:

After the last vote, the Board was slapped with a dose of reality and they briefly responded with the lucidity that the school budget itself needed to be brought under control. During that period of time, I was led to believe that teacher contracts would be negotiated with the realisation that we were in crisis and sacrifices would be made.

No meaningful concessions were made by teachers.

The same hope was held out in negotiating administrative contracts. No meaningful cost saving there either.

Surely cost savings could be realised with the maintenance staff! Nope.

The Board as a whole has no spine for sacrifice in the budget although they often make noises to the contrary. So when the last school budget was being debated I still held out hope that if meaningful wage and benefit concessions couldn't be realised at least we could stick to a zero or lower budget proposal. Nothing doing.

In fact the spreadsheets of possible lower than zero budget cuts turned out to be a red-herring. A small town in CT that actually tried to cut their school budget were told IT WAS AGAINST THE LAW!

That's right, the education industry wrote into legislation an immunity card for themselves that basically can be interpreted to read that no matter what happens to the economy of a community, that community in addition to suffering ALL of the economic woes that may befall them are responsible for maintaining the lifestyle educators have come to accustom themselves to during the best of times.

Sweet deal. That legislation was written by the same idiots who just passed Obama-inspired education legislation that will soon add millions in taxes to fund education initiatives that are failing all over the country as we speak ("its only money" - your money).

So. Athletic fields. Yes, they could use a lot of work. Can we afford them? NO.

I no longer trust the promises of Board members who claim to promote austerity while voting for ever larger budgets and stone-walling any attempts to restructure the school and its finances. We need to walk that walk first. We need to downsize staff. We need to stop doing the same things that have never worked over and over again in the magic thinking that this time it will be effective.

EO Smith is bloated with excess spending, micro class sizes, techno-phobic teaching practices, out of date equipment, and an aversion to improving the only thing that matters; the quality of learning for the students. For all of their good fortune, for all of their immunity from the economic woes of their neighbors, and for all of the empirical evidence that schools have to change, we are held hostage to begging for better education, for substantial change, and for our money's worth in what is being spent.

It's obscene. And athletic fields won't begin to solve those problems. Nor will more money, more empty promises, or one more attempt at trying the same thing over again expecting a different result, one more time.

We need change.

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