I was at a dinner party last night for medical interns in geriatrics at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical center, my wife being a nurse practitioner there. None of the doctors or other medical staff present seemed to want to talk shop. I guess they'd had enough of medicine for the day. Anyway, one of the other spouses present, knowing that I teach ninth graders World Geography, asked me after our meal what I thought of Governor Perry's solution to the school funding problem in Texas. My answer was that, despite our $2000 raise (our first in over twelve years) teachers here in Texas are still close to the bottom of the list of states in terms of compensation. But salaries and associated retention of teachers with critically-needed skills are only the tip of the iceberg. By trading off modest business taxes for reduced property taxes and taking advantage of a surplus in last year's budget, our legislators in Austin have just bought themselves a little time, that's all –that and something that they can brag about to their constituents. With our population of English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) students growing more rapidly in Texas than our economy, it's just a matter of time before we'll be right back in the same financial pickle. The problem, I think, is just symptomatic of an even larger problem: legislators everywhere think that they know more about education than teachers do.
There's a great essay on-line about the problems with public education in America. It was written about three years ago by Jerry R. Goolsby and Dr. Walter Block. Problem is, the right people haven't read it… this or else they're just too bullheaded to accept what is says. Mr. Goolsby is Scholar of Music Industry Studies at Loyola University New Orleans (email@example.com), while Dr. Block (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the Harold E. Wirth Eminent Scholar Endowed Chair and Professor of Economics in the College of Business Administration at Loyola University New Orleans. See it at http://www.educationreview.homestead.com/2003GoolsbyBlock.html.
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