Schools and Money

By way of a general observation, it occurred to me earlier this week that the extra opportunities and services for which so many Rhode Island parents pay the private school premium were offered as part of my New Jersey public school education back in the ’80s. In terms of current, local events, I don’t think it matters much whether the difference was one of location or of era. There’s something structural here in Rhode Island and now in the late ’00s that is depriving families of their educational due.
That’s why I’m holding out hope that State Representative John Loughlin (R., Little Compton, Tiverton, Portsmouth) would make the right decisions as a legislator despite his letter in this week’s Sakonnet Times:

But even as our teachers do their work extremely well, we are challenged as a town to meet the increasing costs of our educational system. Our school committee is working to remain within the state imposed cap on expenditures while struggling to implement a host of unfunded programs demanded by the General Assembly.
Clearly, our state is not doing enough to fund education at the local level. We still have no state funding formula and last year additional funds proposed for local schools was removed by the General Assembly leadership.
Even in this difficult budget year, we could find more funding for our schools. For example, the General Assembly itself has 300 full-time employees and costs every resident of this state $31 dollars per person for a total of $31 million. Why does a part-time General Assembly need this extravagant budget? In part to pay for a self-serving television series on capitol TV which is off limits to opposing viewpoints, and to pay for a 2008 top-of-the-line SUV for House and Senate leadership. This is wrong and needs to stop. How can the House and Senate leadership impose spending caps for municipalities while at the same time expanding their staff and increasing their own budget? …
These are just a few examples of wasteful spending at the state level that results in reduced funding for cities and towns.
It is time for the state to step up to the plate and fund education properly. We need to stop pitting teachers against parents and our school committees against the unions because in the end it is our children who suffer. I am committed to continuing my work in the House to make sure our state lives up to its financial responsibility and starts funding schools properly.

As a reasonably close citizen observer of teacher contract negotiations in Tiverton, I have little doubt that the bulk of additional funds provided by the state would have gone to placate the work-to-ruling union. Not to expanded extracurricular and elective opportunities. Not to music, not to gifted-talented. The union is fighting for blood from a stone; it is willing to see 33 a potentially significant number of its members lose their jobs so that the 54% who are at step 10 (as I recall) can receive significant raises during tight budgetary times. What chance, then, that they would share additional gravy?
Moreover, ending all of the state-level practices that Loughlin cites would be nowhere near sufficient to make up for the General Assembly’s current (and growing) structural deficit, so its reclamation must benefit that effort first. Shuffling around our public dollars, or digging for more, is not the answer; changing the way we do things is.

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Pat Crowley
Pat Crowley
16 years ago

You really shouldn’t comment on things you know absolutely nothing about. It makes you look even more foolish.

Justin Katz
16 years ago

Crowley, here’s how dialogue between intellectually honest people who disagree is supposed to work:
* One makes a statement (that’s me) based on his observations, previous experience, and general principles.
* The other (that should be you) points out where information is wrong or incomplete and/or argues for the application of a different set of principles.
* The first adjusts his opinion to deal with different facts, offers counter evidence supporting his initial facts, and/or takes the discussion from principles to the next step.
If I am incorrect about goings on in Tiverton, I’d be thrilled to be corrected, not the least because odds are good that, as uninformed as I may be, I’m more informed than the average town resident on this matter.
Responding as you have only creates the impression that the facts do not support the conclusion that you’d prefer, so you’re playing to habit and merely trying to muddy the waters.

16 years ago

If you know “how dialogue between intellectually honest people who disagree is supposed to work”, why don’t you practice it?

Tom W
Tom W
16 years ago

>>Crowley, here’s how dialogue between intellectually honest people who disagree is supposed to work …
That is the way it works between parties of good faith and reason and honor.
Having observed the teachers unions over the years, in RI and nationally, it has become obvious that the teachers unions are zealots: single-minded institutions (a/k/a special interests) that care only about their self-aggrandizement.
They will pay lip service to things like “educational quality” and “children” and “community” when they feel it will advance their interests … but it is just that, lip service.
From the standpoint of education and public policy they offer nothing positive or constructive or beneficial. That is why they no longer deserve a place at the public table.
It was not without justification that a recent U.S. Secretary of Education referred to teachers unions as terrorist groups; for like such groups they cannot be negotiated with, reasoned with, or compromised with – only appeased (they win) or defeated (parents, children and taxpayers win).

16 years ago

Who is this teacher-loving RINO moron anyway? Why can’t we get rid of him and find a real conservative? Someone who knows how to stick it to these greedy useless teachers?
I bet Pat Crowley loves this guy!

Justin Katz
16 years ago

I don’t know that Loughlin’s a RINO, Jim. I think he’s just crossed a couple of worthy intentions. Perhaps he’s playing some politics, trying not to alienate the teachers’ union. As I said, though, I’m hopeful that he’ll make the right votes when the time comes.

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