Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Once Again, the Wrong Solution for Educational Budget Woes

The Plano Independent School District was in the news this week, but not in its usual high-achieving way. This time, the story is that, like many of its neighbors, the PISD is not immune to the bad economy, and they're going to have to make some staff cuts. And, like the Dallas ISD before them (but without the scandal, mind you), their idea of a good solution to the problem is to cut some teaching positions--about 100 of them, to be exact. And again--like every time this happens--I say wrong, wrong, wrong.

I will give them a little credit here: They're not talking about laying off any current teachers, just not filling 100 vacant positions or replacing anyone who leaves. But still, it will make class size go up, especially at the elementary level:
Class size won't jump that much, maybe by a student or two in most cases, except possibly in specialty classes, like ESL and art or music classes.

"We really are trying to keep the cuts away from the classroom. We're trying to figure out ways to balance the budget," said Otto.

For weeks, the district's been trying to save money, to reduce a $17 million deficit.

It has saved $1 million with the drop in gas prices and has already cut some librarians and central office workers.
So, has anyone suggested my favorite solution (administrative cuts instead of classroom cuts)? Why yes, they have:
Still, parents say say more should be done, especially at the administration.
Of course, I heartily agree, and I'll take this idea even farther: Keep the class sizes where they are by putting administrators in the classroom for one period a day. That way, nobody's getting any less attention, and the administrators can keep one foot in teaching, as I've always suggested they should do, for the same money being spent now.

My pet educational solution has been a theme on this blog for over three years now, and because of our current economic mess, the theme is expanding. Our problems really do stem from the clashing needs of the productive class vs. the unproductive class, and the productive class must win if our nation is to continue to succeed. The sooner that more people figure this out (which will be difficult, because an undue amount of power--which will need to be sacrificed in order for this to work--is wielded by the unproductive class), the better off we'll all be.

Plano's been known for its quality schools for a long time; I hope this all works out for them.

Blowing out the candles: Happy birthday to my friend and colleague Allan and my friend and former student Andrew. (Tying this all neatly together: They're both products of Plano schools.)

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