Is a time for a tax increase to keep our schools afloat?
Last night, parents crammed a DeKalb meeting protesting an end to magnet programs and theme schools. (I arrived for the end, but the place had been full of unhappy parents.)
Also, Cobb school superintendent Fred Sanderson told the school board Thursday night that teachers would need to take three furlough days this semester; Sanderson targeted Feb. 15 – there are no classes on that day — and wants to also apply the snow day earlier this month and the flood day in September. He said Cobb will not be able to turn to reserves to prevent furloughs this semester as it did in the fall. See the AJC story.
A few desperate districts outside of Metro are joining Peach County and adopting four-day work weeks. Others are dropping back to 160 days of longer classes.
In the last week, I have attended three hearings about education budgets. I don’t believe we can ask schools to sustain or improve quality of instruction at the same time that they are facing such crippling cuts. This is not a matter of getting rid of a few central office staff- which I think some systems could easily do. The cuts exceed a few personnel. They are colossal, and I just don’t see how they are not going to downgrade our classrooms.
We need a combination of responses – Yes, reduce expenses but also bring in new money. Yet, our Legislature is talking about more corporate and employer tax breaks.
Is it the time for that? Or should we follow the example of most other states and raise taxes?
Many of you disagree, but I think this a pivotal moment in the state’s history. We have to shed the reputation of an education backwater and signify in a clear way that we understand that the states that succeed in this new century will be the most educated, the most able to respond to change and the most willing to confront problems decisively and honestly.
Raising class size, cutting back on the school calendar and dumping teachers doesn’t seem to say any of that to the larger world, too much of which readily believes we are eating clay and marrying our cousins down here.