Blame the legislaturePosted Wednesday, August 15, 2012, at 11:46 AM
Today, our children and grandchildren go back to school.
They'll wind up in classrooms with too many kids in them, competing for resources -- sometimes simple things like textbooks -- that just aren't there in adequate numbers anymore.
The Idaho Legislature will tell you the system is broken. They're right. They broke it.
Funding levels for schools are at near historic lows. Almost every school district in the state has been forced to ask voters for emergency supplemental levies to prevent total disaster in school programs, which have been cut back anyway. Even if the legislature were to suddenly restore funding back to adequate levels, it would take years for some of the programs that have been cut to be restored.
Some of this was due to the economy, with state revenues falling. But way too much of it was due to a misguided and hastily conceived plan to flood the school districts with computers, have every student take two on-line classes a year, and cut 800 teachers across the state.
Well, only a few schools are actually going to get computers this fall (as it turns out, they're actually quite expensive, much more than the $200 per student that State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna had originally estimated).
And the state now is requiring only two online classes for the entire four years of high school.
Plus, they're not requiring everyone to take the same on-line class, such as American Government. If they did that, the districts could justify getting rid of an American Government teacher. But since the kids get to choose from a couple hundred offerings (including online PE), and many of them aren't going to take American Government, which is still required to graduate, the school districts have to keep that government teacher. No savings to the district there, but less funding nevertheless because the state is buying computers rather than paying for teachers. Class sizes are rising as a result.
So when you start complaining about why the school district doesn't seem to have as much as it did when you were in school, or why the classes seem so overcrowded, don't complain to the district. Their hands are tied. Complain to your legislators. They're the ones who got us into this mess.
If they'd go back to school themselves, maybe they'd learn enough to figure out how to fix it.
-- Kelly Everitt
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