Wednesday, March 24, 2010

NOW it's getting dangerous....

Please, I pretty much turn a deaf ear to any news that 'the markets' are getting stronger, that bailed-out banks are turning good profits again, and that the economy is stabilizing.  A willful deaf ear, I'll admit.

Many banks continue to play dirty pool of sorts...I watched an expose last night on ABC (that you can watch HERE, though it may take a bit to load) where a 'disguised' high-level executive told his 'truth' about what really was going on in banks high up....the pressure execs were put under to try and force unneeded financial products on consumers because the more cards and accounts they had, the better the chance to make healthy fees off of 'the top' purposefully put a lid on any efforts to ammend mortgages of homeowners in dire straits, heretofore long-term, excellent customers.  If you don't have time to watch it now, I strongly urge you to watch it later.  It's very unsettling.

Just as I know it's incorrect to lump all banks into one box, I also know that the box of dirty pool players is quite a full one.  But that's not my seriously deep concern this morning...

Foreclosures.  Bankrupticies. Business hiring mostly part-time positions, if that.  State and local governments on the brink of financial collapse.  All generate deeply troubling concerns.  Recently, however, even amidst the little glimmers of economic hope in the news, comes word of the type of collapse that is, to me, one of the most dangerous...not so much for what it is on the surface, but what it means as the shock-wave and domino-effect takes hold and goes through the roots...through the years to come.

Watching our school systems crumble.

It's bad enough there were serious enough issues with the declining quality of public education over the past few decades, but to see the (increasing) reports of "Death by Education" is a knell we do not want to hear...yet we're held seemingly powerless to stop it.

Kansas City school systems are considering closing or consolidating 21 of their 67 schools next year.  20% of Michigan City's schools are on the chopping block.  Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is considering an 8-15% (some reports say an even 10%) across the board pay-cut for everyone; that or firing several hundred teachers, increasing class sizes and still possibly cutting pay (oh, and possibly creating 'combo' classes where K and 1 are put together, 2nd and 3rd, etc.).  Worst case scenario is CMS will face an $83 million budget shortfall next year. And those are just three little examples I highlighted in a tempestuous sea that spans the country.

Oh, glad to see that Alan Mulally, CEO of Ford, got a total compensation package of $17.9 million for 2009.  Yeah, he took a big cut in salary and deferred on cash bonuses, but it is what it is: $18 million.

Also happened to dig up 2008 data for good ol' Goldman of THE ring-leaders of our world-affecting financial collapse paid out $4.82 BILLION in bonuses alone.

The 30-team NBA payroll total is close to $1,825,000,000.  Highest is the L.A. Lakers at over $91 million; lowest is the Portland Trailblazers at just under $56 million.  Average salary in 2007-2008 was just over $5.3 million.

IF you have a Master's Degree and teach for 23 years, your annual base pay in North Carolina will finally go a tad above the $50,0000 mark...that was before the proposed pay slashes ahead, of course. 

Just felt like throwing that in there.  Teachers have for decades gotten the short end of the pay and respect stick; not only have they gotten the short end of the stick, but the stick continues to be effectively ground down on a yearly basis.  What we as a society are witnessing is a severe erosion at the very foundation and fabric of our nation.  Innocent children are paying the price for the follies of adult fools, basically.

"What do you want to be when you grow up, Liza?  A teacher?"  Why would you, unless you were of such high moral calling that you would throw yourself into a profession that we're allowing to go to hell in a handbasket?  Of course, you could say that about any number of professions these days....

Back when the horse-hockey hit the fan a couple of years ago, I remarked that some areas of society need to be shielded from demise, namely public safety (police/fire/emergency) and education/schools.  When times get bad, some people get desperate, and you could argue an increased need for public safety and protection.  But to screw with a child's eduction is set in motion a snowball headed for a hell of sorts, with ramifications that will go years into the future.

"The North Carolina Education Lottery" is one of the biggest farces to come through The Old North State government the past few years.  Sounds great, doesn't it, that proceeds help out our education system?  Smoke and mirrors, it was to supplement existing funding, but our elected leaders saw fit to find ways to funnel some of the funding and proceeds for non-education programs and departments.

Allowing our schools to be shuttered, teachers fired, and kids crammed into classrooms like sardines, and then underfunding everything from supplies to support services is a bad, bad, bad thing.  To say there are no other options is to say we haven't gotten tough enough in other areas.  

Just like the ol' bumper sticker says:

"It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber."

And we sit here twiddling our thumbs acting surprised that our children perform so poorly when looking at academic performances of children around the globe...America's societal priorities are way out of whack.  Or maybe it's more accurate to say we are simply reaping what we sow, espousing belief in one thing but making and accepting willful choices that destroy those very beliefs in the process.



Anonymous said...

Bob, Preaching to the choir as you know, but the real problem with school finance is that so much money is spent on administration and technology and very little on what actually happens in the classroom. At the National Science Teachers Association annual conference last weekend, there were lots of folks selling amazing computer software packages which claim to solve all academic problems at, I may add, a high price. Not many people interested - where were all the people, in front of the hands-on, gizmo science activities which cost half as much and which kids actually learn from. However, as you know, a teacher can safely have up to 20 students doing hands on, more than that, it isn't safe and technology takes over. As for administration, where one person was in charge, now there are a flotilla of principals, vice-principals, assistant principals, etc. And, it isn't those positions that are getting cut, it is the classroom teacher.

Bob Child said...

AMEN to that, Abigail....CMS is monstrously large and while the admin has been trimmed, many think it's not been trimmed enough. Too, they tossed out a perfectly good elementary math program and book set for some fanciful new set of curriculum tools that exceeded one million clams...wasteful doesn't begin to describe the situation. The wrong end of the horse suffers for sure.

Suzy said...

While I’ve read of some school districts --- even entire cities --- that are closing and consolidating schools based on significant decreases in population (e.g. “Northern flight” from the Rust-Belt cities and states), there is another absolutely appalling problem that you did begin to touch-on, Bob.

In my opinion the root cause of our problems in the K-12 education system in this country lies with ALL politicians. The previous administration began the downward-spiral with that ridiculous “NCLB law” some 8 years ago (“No Child Left Behind”), penalizing “failing” schools on the basis of test scores, and resulting in counter-productive “competition” between teachers and school districts. The current administration and all the local political influences all over the country seem to also be headed down the same wrong path, if not at an even faster pace.

Interesting and appalling thoughts here:
1) Who did the government call upon to supposedly “solve” the country’s financial woes? “Experts” from the failing financial sector. The blind leading the blind.
2) How about for answers to the healthcare problems?
3) How about for a financially-bleeding Postal Service?
So now who do you think is called upon to identify and solve the K-12 education problems? Sadly, NOT the teachers and school administrators, NOT the parents, NOT the teachers’ unions ... NOT the people who matter most, NOT the people who have the STUDENTS’ best interests in mind. Sadly, the politicians who have only their own interests in mind, and who see education of future generations and the flourishing of young minds only in terms of test scores and the almighty-dollar.

Grrrrrrr ... !!!!!

Suzy :)