California has written into law that the preferred choice for reducing school district costs in the face of budgetary shortfalls is to reduce the length of the school year. At the same time, reducing school district budgets by laying off teachers is precluded by law.
Really! Teachers have a higher priority than our children’s education. These priorities are exactly the kind of leadership that drives parents crazy. Of all the places we spend our money, our leaders can’t find ways to reduce costs other than continuing to undermine the quality of our education system. This is the kind of idiotic decision making that leads parents to search for alternatives to the current public education system.
The traditional way to find a better public school was to move to a neighborhood with higher performing schools. Unfortunately, many families are trapped in communities with underperforming schools because the current economic environment makes it difficult for families to move. It is no wonder that charter schools and homeschooling are gaining in popularity as frustrated parents and students jump at anything that offers hope. As a final irony, unemployment is highest in communities with the worst schools so dropping out of school has a new set of problems.
We are running out of options at every level. State revenues continue to decline while the interest cost of our growing debt eats away at the revenue we do have. Our leaders seem to be hunkered down waiting for a new wave of revenue to come from a return to prosperity that is slipping further and further into the future. Meanwhile, the cost of education continues to soar creating a debate challenging whether higher education is even economically justifiable.
On top of all this, education is buried in a mountain of regulations that preserve the status quo and make innovation nearly impossible . . . nearly, but not completely. The one bright light on the horizon is an army of innovators, who are shaking up the education system in search of reduced costs, higher productivity and greater results. Let’s hope the results arrive in time.