In Black And White.

ForbesBy Kelly Phillips Erb | Forbes – Fri, May 20, 2011 

Today, my first grader will get up on stage and have quite possibly the last music recital of her (so far) brief academic career. Together with my third grader, she will sing numbers they’ve been working on for most of the semester. I’ve been told to expect “Brown Eyed Girl” for one of them – my third grader knows that’s one of my favorite songs. At some point, their beloved teacher, Mr. D, will take a bow and there will be wild applause. And likely some tears. You see, Mr. D might be leaving our school.

My first grader solemnly advised me over lunch the other day, with giant tears in her eyes, that she knows that Mr. D is leaving even though they aren’t talking about it at school. “I know he’s packing up his room,” she said. “I don’t want him to go.”

Nobody wants him to go.

But music is likely being slashed dramatically at our school next year as a result of budget cuts. Our little school will see funding cut by more than 20%. If things stay as contemplated, that means we will lose full day kindergarten, two kindergarten teachers, a first and second grade teacher, our Spanish teacher, transportation for students, our vice principal, a secretary, a custodian, athletics programs and two teachers in the upper grades.

It is a staggering set of losses to contemplate.

Our school, Cook Wissahickon, is a public school in Philadelphia. You might not always hear good things coming out of Philadelphia about the public school system but let me assure you that in schools like ours, great things are happening. We have a diverse school, both economically and ethnically, with no achievement gap. What that means is that our kids are learning and thriving, no matter their background. There is no violence, there are no racial conflicts.

But our school is at risk of changing dramatically because of the pending budget cuts. Traditionally, we haven’t asked for extras from the state or the City. When we wanted an arts program and no money could be found, a parent took on the responsibility of starting an arts club. Another parent organized efforts to buy a sign for our school (can you believe we didn’t have one?) and another set of parents focused their energies on taking a macadam-covered schoolyard and little by little, making it green.

So this year, when the budget cuts were announced, our parents jumped into action. We were told to lobby Harrisburg, our state capital, for more funds. We did. We’ve marched, we’ve written letters, we’ve made calls. We’ve met with our state Representative and our state Senator.

And yet, from Harrisburg, we’re being told that there’s nothing that can be done. Our tax dollars are being diverted to other programming, like increased funding for prisons. The Department of Corrections in Pennsylvania has been handed $186 million extra dollars, an 11% increase, while the budget for education across the state has been slashed by $1.5 billion, with over one third of those cuts focusing on basic education. It appears to be, quite simply, a difference in priorities.

I think that Pennsylvania taxpayers get that some level of cuts are necessary. Our state, like others across the country, has suffered from reduced tax revenues in a poor economy and discontinued federal stimulus money. We’ve all heard the speeches – from Pres. Obama (D) to Governor Corbett (R-PA) – talking about shared sacrifices.

The frustrating part of the process, however, and one that I know is shared throughout the country, is this maddening lack of transparency at how our tax dollars are raised, budgeted and spent. If you ask five different folks in Harrisburg why cuts are so dramatic for education, you’ll get five different answers. I’m trying to figure out if that’s a genuine sense of confusion or if it’s a manufactured effort to keep taxpayers in the dark. I sincerely hope it’s not the latter.

But it is a big part of our overall tax problem in this country, this growing sense that we have no control over where our tax dollars go. It’s exactly the reason that the Obama administration announced, with much fanfare, the so-called taxpayer receipt. The thinking is that if you understand more fully exactly where your tax dollars are going, you might not balk at the idea of paying them – or that you’ll be more engaged in the process. I think there’s some truth to that, with limitations,  of course.

As the Tax Code has exploded in complexity, taxpayers have been increasingly vocal about the need for reform. I would suggest, however, that it’s less of an issue of frustration with figuring out the “how?” of taxes than the overall “why?” There is a distinct feeling that the Tax Code isn’t fair or equitable, especially when it appears that all taxpayers aren’t getting the same deal.

And that’s exactly what is happening in Pennsylvania. Our tax picture hasn’t changed but the services that we are getting for those tax dollars has changed. There’s been little to no real dialogue. Taxpayers have not been asked to be engaged in the process. The result is a confusing and frustrating mess for taxpayers, a message shared across the country when it comes to budgets and taxes.

So, earlier this week, when my oldest daughter looked at me, very seriously, and asked, “Why can’t things stay the way that they were?” I was caught off guard. I have no real answers for her.

http://news.yahoo.com/making-sense-where-tax-dollars-115807322.html

my bold/itllics

 

Here it is in black and white, people.
Prisons are more profitable for the government, than schools are.
THIS is exactly why BUSINESS has no more ‘business’ being involved with government, than religion does.
Most all of these prisons getting money are not state or federal institutions, they are run by private corporations, for profit.
What profit is there in rehabilitation or release?
What guilty man ever could enter, serve his time duly, and leave justly, when profit is involved?
A shove, a push, a prod, keeps the profit flowing.
The misery grows.
And we pay for this in schools funds.
For the children.
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One Response to “In Black And White.”

  1. and what about the lottery. in california it was started to help education. well education is suffering and the lottery is thriving. so where the hell is the money going? accountablity people. we have to get together and say show me on paper where every cent is being spent.

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