Perhaps it’s come time to hold back education

Craig Hall, Publisher
Craig Hall, Publisher

In our local school board election, there’s actually an ad spot that claims some of the folks running for the board would be beholden to Wall Street “special interests.” Apparently this ad asks all of us to forget the fact that three of the candidates featured in the ads claim they have no political agendas or special interests involved and yet are backed by the teacher’s union — the very essence of a politically charged, special interest group. Doesn’t wanting to be on the board equivalent to having an agenda or special interest as it relates to education?

Let’s talk about the local school board ads in general. I mean, seriously, has anyone ever won a school board election by saying, “I’m bringing my political leanings into the fray. And to be honest, I just don’t care about the kids.”? How this is a campaign strategy is beyond me. But apparently to some, running on not doing things nobody would run on to begin with seems logical.

The other big ballot issue is the nearly $1 billion tax increase to “support our schools.” So once again, the tired old adages of “for the kids” and “all the money goes into the classroom” are dragged out. As if a government throwing money at a problem has ever solved anything, let alone having government spend the money in the way it promises. History has proven time and again that adages might get money approved, but the end result is usually something very different than the adages themselves claim.

My take on Amendment 66  is it’s a slush fund. Does anyone think educators won’t take this money and increase the bureaucracy surrounding it? Heck, the easiest trick in the book is saying that this, specially designated government money is only being spent on precisely this or that. Just look at how Planned Parenthood gets away with this accounting trick to reap untold billions of tax dollars for abortion. I also have a problem voting more money to school districts when they constantly complain they don’t have enough money for books, buildings or the basic things upon which they should spend money. My guess is they will take the billion dollars and fund the overpromised pensions that rely on future tax dollars because they’re behind on payments. Finally, Amendment 66 is dangerous because it would make it a state law schools can be funded through income tax.

The fact is, government throwing money at a problem it has caused or made worse is never the answer. Since the U.S. Department of Education was formed, we have thrown trillions of dollars at improving our education system to world-class levels with arguably the exact opposite results. Isn’t it odd that before the department was formed, we already were the envy of the world in world-class education?

The 2013 budget for the U.S. Department of Education was nearly

$75 billion dollars. Want a simple solution? Quick and dirty math says eliminating the department would give every state an extra $1.5 billion. Even if the money was split by student population, one would be hard pressed to say the additional dollars wouldn’t constitute a significant improvement for education budgets state by state.

Ah, but would it solve the problems our schools face? In a word: No.

Truth be told, things aren’t even fair about education on the state level. Just look at how much the Denver area receives per student versus what we get on the Western Slope. Does anyone think the folks in charge of your tax dollars would be any more fair with their new source of revenue? Does anyone think that once they can tax our incomes they wouldn’t go to the well time and again for more of our money? Me either.

I think the people at Mesa County School District 51 do an admirable job despite the inequity in funding. But it’s sad they have to make these machinations at all. I’m happy with the education my children receive from our schools, but I’m also involved in their education.

And that’s my point in all of this. Our founders knew full well education and family are foremost in creating a free, ethical and prosperous society. The founders also knew the answer when it came to the federal government running anything — it’s a bad idea. Just look at what happens every time there are federal mandates involved in getting federal dollars. You get an abject disaster. That’s why when it came to just about everything with our constitution, the founders left the power with the people and the states. They trusted the people to know better.

And now our state education system, school boards and teachers’ unions have become like the feds. They think us simple folks don’t have the education or knowledge necessary to make education decisions for our kids. Perhaps it’s time to give parents $10,0000 per child in vouchers to prove them wrong, improve the quality of education through free market principles and get the family back in education.

It’s got work better than how the feds have “improved” these two areas through countless programs and tax dollars.