Bill O'Connor

Individual payer education


By Bill O’Connor –

We have written that it is not just our school board that’s misdirected. It really is all 4,000+ of them. Here is a dispatch from Texas:

By Charles Cook and Terrence Moore:

“As the Texas legislature convened last month, a coalition of anti-testing organizations, including Texans Advocating for Meaningful Student Assessment, promoted a plan to gut the state’s tough new high-school graduation standards. Instead of passing 15 end-of-course exams, a student would graduate by passing two or three. More than 800 Texas school boards have adopted a resolution to water down requirements.”

Eight hundred school boards!? Remember Texas in your prayers. Here at home, managing a system of more than 20 schools is quite a task these days, what with Federal and state mandates, with and without the money attached to get it done. Every source of funds other than local taxes comes with strings, directives, regulations, rules, and reporting requirements. The County Commission counts on the Board of Public Education (BOPE) to oversee HCPS. Our HCPS, and so many others, have committed to all these requirements to gain access to the money, often borrowed in the name of taxpayers.

One of devious games played with us recently was the stimulus money dangled in front of our HCPS a couple of years ago. It was earmarked to pay just the first year, only the first year, salaries of new teachers. HCPS, with its twelve month limit on foresight when it comes to money, took the stimulus and hired the people So where did we get the money for second and third year pay? Of course you know! HCPS could have refused the stimulus; they could have recognized the burden it would place on taxpayers for the futures of our new employees, who had not been justified to the people of the county, just hired with the wonderfully “free” money.

Our schools are always under pressure from the National Education Association (NEA), the teachers union, though it is really a union for most all education system workers. There’s the $25 million in dues paid by North Carolina members to lobby in Raleigh for costly additional spending by counties that favors union members. Then there are the rules that goes along with federal and state funds; that’s no picnic. But it’s OK with the school systems because with all the requirements there is very little serious oversight from the far away governments, only forms to fill out.

If we paid for running our own schools locally we’d make darn sure that the money was spent on education rather than lunch box inspection, collectivist indoctrination, and body mass testing. We’d be sure they studied the unique history of our great exceptional country and its Constitution and Bill of Rights, rather than the joys of government and non-profit employment. Greenspan’s elder brother always said: beware of centralized experts; where you and I have brains, they just have an appetite for your money to use for their starry-eyed plans to change or ignore human nature.

We have a single payer system in K-12 education. It’s the three level government pyramid of indoctrination. We need a multi-payer system; parents, all of them, not just of the kids “at risk”, but yes, for all the kids at risk, because it is all of them are, as long they are stuck in government schools. It is that simple; it’s this simple.

Step One is parents choosing schools and school management transferring the tax receipts according to parents’ choices.

Step Two has parts in parallel. The first is a five year phase where 20% of tax receipts from Federal and state sources are transferred to the control of parents directly the first year, 40% the second year, and after five years parents will control all the public support of schools. The second part is a reduction in actual Federal and state revenue by 20% of the amount of respective education subsidies. This means a dollar for dollar reduction in government subsidies and revenues from individual taxes, while maintaining tours at the Whitehouse and Statehouse. This must include all direct and indirect subsidies whether or not through a Department of Education in Raleigh or Washington. As with part one, the tax reduction is 40% the second year and so on.

Step Three has each of the 3,033 American counties and assorted other school districts increasing local taxes to make up whatever part of the lost Federal and state funding that seems justified to people of each district. These taxes will be in the open and subject to our oversight. Then they will be our schools; we will control the costs and be prepared to take care of our own. Can’t be done you say; never happen you say. I guess you’re right; 3 million farmers wouldn’t have a chance against 12 million in an empire with the strongest military in the world, unless, of course, they decided to do it. Like every difficult task it looked impossible until just before they decided to do it.

With school financial support 100% locally paid by parents, schools would be managed perhaps by a rotating board of taxpayers in cooperation with successful principals measured by parental support. There would be no use and no work for the central administration of schools, school boards or a Federal Department of Education. And the undoubted reduction in per pupil spending, after unloading all the current overhead, would release such a torrent of economic activity as to absorb all the people, and many more, doing those soul deadening administrative overhead jobs in K-12 education from Main Street to K Street to both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. Is this the devolution of power from Raleigh’s and Washington’s soviet mausoleums of education spending to the kitchen table? You bet and a hundred years late, and long past time to put deep in the ground, “Progressive” education theories with their support of massive bureaucracy and its top-down, central rule making. We won’t make progress in education until we bury Progressive thinking.

We have looked at the financial data sent by Henderson County Public Schools (HCPS). It isn’t ready for use in our reporting. Last Monday I delivered a detailed list of changes and additions needed to present a simple understandable set of HCPS financial summaries for your understanding. They insist it be in a letter; I delivered it in person Monday, March 11. Keep that date in mind. There is also an odd discrepancy of 48 people more listed than reported previously by HCPS. We will see if HCPS can help us; and we’ll report on the progress of the response from them. Not surprising, a first look seemed to show that the vast majority, roughly $85 million out of $110 million is for people; it’s a jobs program; as always wherever unions like our NEA hold sway. We will dig out some more information ASAP whether or not we get a response by then.

The Tribune hopes you will discuss with your friends and neighbors, some of these ideas, and some of your own, to contribute to solving the K-12 crisis; share your thinking with the task force and with us here. If you have private concerns on school issues including school security, that need to be aired publicly, contact me with complete confidence in our respect for your privacy or or call 828 890-0412.

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