Thursday, February 17, 2011

Eating the Seed Corn. Who Needs Education?

Several state governments want to eat the seed corn so that there's nothing to plant next year by cutting severely back on education. This is short-sighted, obviously, but goes along with the general contempt of education in this country and especially on the right side of the political aisle.

Texas makes a great example. Even Barbara Bush is concerned:
This month, The Houston Chronicle published an opinion piece by the former first lady titled “We Can’t Afford to Cut Education,” in which Mrs. Bush pointed out that students in Texas currently rank 47th in the nation in literacy, 49th in verbal SAT scores and 46th in math scores.
“In light of these statistics, can we afford to cut the number of teachers, increase class sizes, eliminate scholarships for underprivileged students and close several community colleges?” she asked.
You’d think there’d be an obvious answer. But the Texas State Legislature is looking to cut about $4.8 billion over the next two years from the schools. Budgets are tight everywhere, but Perry, the state’s governor, and his supporters made things much worse by reducing school property taxes by a third in 2006 under the theory that a higher cigarette tax and a new business franchise tax would make up the difference. Which they didn’t.
“In Austin, I’ve got half-a-dozen or more schools on a list to be closed — one of which I presented a federal blue-ribbon award to for excellence,” said Representative Lloyd Doggett. “And several hundred school personnel on the list for possible terminations.”
Similar cutbacks are happening elsewhere but Texas is especially bad because it educates a very high percentage of America's children.

Why do so many Americans despise education? Your guess is as good as mine. But perhaps it has something to do with governors like Rick Perry and what is in their best interest?
“Abstinence works,” said Governor Perry during a televised interview with Evan Smith of The Texas Tribune.
“But we have the third highest teen pregnancy rate among all states in the country,” Smith responded.
“It works,” insisted Perry.
“Can you give me a statistic suggesting it works?” asked Smith.
“I’m just going to tell you from my own personal life. Abstinence works,” said Perry, doggedly.