I would start with this- the Federal Government has about 500 mandates it has issued to State/local governments to pull off- and No Money to back it up. Seriously? IF that doesn’t show you how dysfunctional a system we have is, how about a teacher in jail still being paid because it is illegal to fire her? Even met a budget that actually went down? Even seen a budget vote that didn’t get taglined as “Do it for the Kids”? Tough to buy into that when 70% of a school budget goes to paying people who work about half a year, are tenured after 3 years, are removed by seniority- not talent, and will strike (not be there for the kids) if you so much as whisper you would reduce their benefits or ask them to contribute like all other private individuals towards their own health care.
I could go on- but the chase is this. ANY way to improve our model should be embraced and considered. ANY way to lessen the cost should be considered. ALL parties need to come together and address it on a broad level- not a year- to-year stopgap approach. The kids are the most important piece, and setting them up for success sets us ALL up for success. But they cannot be the reason we do not change, they need to be the reason we MUST change.
Idea- ALL costs should be put back into the hands of the States to decide. ALL mandates should be from the state level. ALL costs should be paid for from tax revenue collected. When did we decide that we should pay property taxes to fund schools, pay for a laundry list of back to school items (some of which are for the class to benefit, not the individual child’s need), pay for special trips above and beyond that, and then have to do fundraisers beyond that? LIVE WITHIN YOUR MEANS.
Idea- When you vote for approving or denying a school budget, there should be a couple things that happen. Why is school money spent putting signs up campaigning for the budget to be approved? Think it through; we pay tax money to buy signs to campaign to get more money from us. Really? What about let it pass on the merits. I don’t mind a letter home to explain, but it should stop about there. Also if a budget fails, the result should be to freeze it at current levels. THAT would force school districts to make tough decisions and be creative. If the economy goes down and school budgets fail, the current system is to give a small increase as opposed to a big increase. How is that fair or just? So the school teachers and administrators get pay increases no matter what kind of economy there is?
Idea- What about using technology to save us money? Using an E-reader for text books would save tremendously. Use a states buying power to lower the per unit cost of one, put one in the hands of each child at a certain age(say 4 grade), put all their respective “books” on there for far less than buying texts outright cost, update yearly for even less, child is responsible for the return of the unit, and think about all the storage space and trees you would save in the process.