Friday, June 15, 2012

Raises in PISD. Crisis Over?

Rodger Jones, editorial writer for The Dallas Morning News, reacts to the news that the Plano school district (PISD) is awarding employees a 3% raise, after forgoing raises last year.
Like lots of people who care about education, I surely thought the sky was falling last year, when the Legislature was getting ready to cut education just like any other area of spending.

But what about the kids? I gasped. They're not sacrosanct? Austin would treat schools just like another program -- belt-tightening and everything?

I had visions of massive layoffs, classes doubled up, kids sharing desks, teachers teaching in the dark.
I'm pretty sure that's sarcasm. I can tell because Jones starts by saying he cares about education. Then he says he cares about kids. Funny ha ha stuff.

After the jump, more biting humor from the editorial office of The Dallas Morning News.

Jones assures readers that schools are getting along just fine. He even tosses in a snide remark that "help from Obama" wasn't even needed. Jones finds all the proof he needs in anecdotal evidence. Sitting at a table with two assistant principals from Garland, Jones tells his readers that they "more or less shrugged when asked what impact the state budget cuts had on their schools." Jones is probably implying that the cuts must not have had any negative impact. I'm more inclined to believe the educators were just beaten into submission.

Jones assures readers that "there haven't been the horror stories I imagined." Then Jones hasn't been paying attention. There have been layoffs, increased class sizes, program cuts and building maintenance deferrals that Jones prefers not to see. Just because the school buildings look pretty much the same from the outside doesn't mean that what goes on inside them hasn't suffered (not even counting the nine schools the Dallas ISD alone closed this year). Jones should have asked some school superintendents to detail the impact of the state budget cuts.

Here is where I think the school districts are failing the community. In the lead-up to the billions in budget cuts imposed by the legislature in 2011, school districts were very vocal, warning loudly and repeatedly of the potential impact on local schools. But once the cuts were reality, once the school districts adapted their own budgets to the smaller state budget, the school districts mostly went silent. Not inactive, just quiet. A thousand or so school districts have joined lawsuits against the state over school funding, but that is playing out away from the public eye. If the Plano (or Richardson) school district has ever publicly documented the price the kids have paid for Austin's budget cutting, I'm not aware of it.

I understand that school districts are caught between a rock and a hard place. If they publicize the cuts, they admit to parents that their kids' education is suffering. That's not easy for any educator to admit. School board members don't get re-elected on a platform of "Public schools suffered on my watch." But if they downplay the cuts, the community is left with the false impression that kids' education is not suffering. Even supposedly well-informed editorial writers who should know better will write things like that.

Those warnings of layoffs, increased class sizes, program cuts and building maintenance deferrals weren't scare stories. They are the reality affecting the education of your kids today.


Adam W said...

Well, the salary increase was offset with an increase in the required emplyee contribution for health I wouldn't really call that a "raise."

Andy Gross (You are welcome name nazis) said...

I'd like a school administrator to tell me how much money it will take to educate 1 child from K-12. Not what we pay now, the actual amount of money they feel is necessary to prepare the child for something other than the inside of a jail cell. Then I'd like it broken down by administrative costs, building maintenance, books, etc.

All I hear is there is never enough money. And there is never an accounting for the money that is spent right now. We just know it is not enough. Or we are told it is not enough. But we do evidently have enough to pay administrators 6 figure salaries. And we have enough in DISD for the super to bring in a bunch of cronies.

We have to have new books that kids can't bring to school. No, those are for home. Mind boggling........ And on it goes.....

Mark Steger said...

"Andy," commenting rules require you to identify yourself. That means more than a first name. Please provide your full name, either here or on the profile.

School districts have annual budgets that spell out in great detail how much money is spent to educate all the children in the public schools of the district. Hundreds of school districts are suing the state, claiming that the current school funding is inadequate. Those lawsuits are public information also and will shed light on how much more funding the school districts think would be adequate.