schools out
May 1, 2003 7:01 AM   Subscribe

School's out 17 days early in Hillsboro. Oregon isn't alone in their state budget crunch. Will this solution be seen elsewhere? Meanwhile, defense industry CEOs -- "just 37 men have made enough money in the last three years to, for instance, pay for two years of running the Boston public schools."
posted by kat (43 comments total)
I has gotten this bad down here in Eugene. . . .I am very ashamed of my state government and our newly elected (supposedly Democratic) governor.
posted by Danf at 7:39 AM on May 1, 2003

Look upon this well, o ye of the Right; for in Oregon we see our future in miniature.
posted by Cerebus at 7:45 AM on May 1, 2003

"During the Great Depression we didn't close schools," said Dr. Walter Hellman, a physics teacher at Hillsboro High School. "We didn't close schools during World War II. Are we the most civically irresponsible generation in Oregon in 100 years? That's a problem."

How many teens in high school were taking Physics back then during the depression & WWII though? far will we push these young minds in these higher classes?
Think it's great that the children will have time to rest their brains. Yet hope it was planned early enough to conclude their studies; way too long of a school year these days. Seriously, the kids around Dallas get out of school in late-May then go back to school mid-August. For college maybe too short but these are kids/teens. If they will need it for the real world, they have college.
posted by thomcatspike at 7:52 AM on May 1, 2003

"It has. . ." . . . .in my post up there. . .sorry for the typo
posted by Danf at 7:58 AM on May 1, 2003

thomcatspike: Greater spin has never been said. I salute you.

Absolutely, the closure of schools because of lack of funds is a benefit to the kids and society in general. I couldn't agree more! I know; let's make it even better for them-- we can send them all to vocational training for three months out of the year with nine months of work-study so they can rest thier weary brains! As a side benefit, all those pinko Communist teacher scum can't taint the pure white driven snow of the children's souls with anti-American crap like readng and writing and independant thinking and joy of learning, so that they can better fulfill their pre-selected corporate destinies as insignificant cogs in the business machines. After all, if they were worth anything they'd have been born rich and could go to private school; God obviously intended them and all of their descendants to be kept in their social and economic poverty forever. Who are we to question that? I say, close 'em all! Now! Before it's too late!
posted by Cerebus at 8:12 AM on May 1, 2003



I feel much better now.

No I don't. Not really.
posted by Cerebus at 8:14 AM on May 1, 2003

I used to attend the University of Oregon and met lots and lots of kids who went to Hillsboro. They weren't learning much there anyway. These guys I knew put the High in High School.
posted by vito90 at 8:15 AM on May 1, 2003

I don't want to question the value of school, but some of us actually believe that national defense is important, too.
posted by Durwood at 8:21 AM on May 1, 2003

trharlan: I think this is the point.
posted by Cerebus at 8:25 AM on May 1, 2003

(scroll down to the "No Child Left Behind" act part. Sorry.)
posted by Cerebus at 8:27 AM on May 1, 2003

Hillsboro is indicative of a greater problem nationwide. This is their solution. In my own school district, we received a newsletter outlining their own budget problems and how they're handling it. Other school districts might choose alternate solutions, but the problem remains that schools cannot cover their bases.

I'm not saying that the defense industry is to fault, and I'm not questioning the value of a strong defense. I'm just questioning whether our priorities are skewed in this country when education cannot cover their bases when personal fortunes in one industry rise.

As one wise public school teacher once said to me, everything in moderation.
posted by kat at 8:34 AM on May 1, 2003

well i'm going to have to give credit to thomcatspike for the most frightening post i've seen here in awhile. Maybe as a 16 year old i would have liked to skip all my classes and not study physics (and i was a public school kid who graduated not too long ago (97)), but if i hadn't i wouldn't have gotten into college and i wouldn't have continued into grad school and damned if i'd be happy with my life now. The fact that school systems are soo incredibly poor scares me slightly less then the general apathy the majority of the population shows towards education and chalenging oneself. I realize it's not for everyone but it should also not be for only those who live in the right location. We are learning more in basic school, but we're also doing more with our lives and our educations. we no longer live in a strictly agrarian lifestyle were students would be better off helping keep the livestock going during the summers. In the end the technological and sociological developments we make are because we stand on the knowledge gained from those before us. If we refuse to respect and learn that knowledge then we lead ourselves to live in a crapier world.
posted by NGnerd at 9:21 AM on May 1, 2003

The OP/ED didn't point out that had voters passed Measure 28 back in January, this wouldn't be happening. So here in Multnomah County (which includes Portland) we'll be voting on Measure 26-48 on May 20th to hopefully avert the crisis on a local level.
posted by cmonkey at 9:22 AM on May 1, 2003

Not to be down on defense but it will be a great day when our schools have all the money they need and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy a new bomber.
posted by Mitheral at 9:22 AM on May 1, 2003

Oh what-the-[expletive]-ever. We outspent the world on defense this past year. That's the U.S. vs. the world combined in military expenses, and we whooped them. We already have the strongest military in existence, ever, period. And you know what? Ever since the internal contradictions of the Soviet State revealed themselves in its collapse, we've had the strongest military in the world. We had it before then, but we weren't sure. No country thinks about attacking us or our interests, except through terrorism, which is not what the Abrams tank is particularly good at thwarting. So stop with the 'we like a strong defence posture' crap.

If Hillsboro wants to save brainspace in America's youth, fantastic. If they did it because the choice was forced upon them, then it's a travesty. I'm not usually one for blanket proclamations, but if you think otherwise, you're a bleeping idiot.
posted by hank_14 at 9:26 AM on May 1, 2003

some of us actually believe that national defense is important, too

Then you may consider supporting less insane compensation for defense-industry CEOs. Clearly, a big chunk of money spent on defense is being diverted into the hands of a few.

And on topic, good news for Oregon. Bill Sizemore and his shady foundations were put out of business yesterday. Too bad the initiatives he sponsored can't be retroactively undone. His crap has done too much to destroy the economic viability of the state government, causing the school funding crisis.
posted by billder at 9:29 AM on May 1, 2003

kat-- maybe I'm missing something here.
A few kids in Oregon had their school year cut short by less than ten percent.
Some CEOs of an in-favor industry made a lot of money.
Are you implying that this is a problem? An injustice? Do you have a solution? Or are you just class-baiting?

Don't you just hate "class-baiting"?

You're right, of course. It's far, far better that CEOs make as much money as possible, because the bigger their bank accounts and the more boats and SUVS and TeeVees they acquire, the more that money trickles down to the rest of America.

(Geezus....don't you guys know anything about economics? The more money rich people take, the more money they give to the rest of us....just ask any rich person...they'll tell you).

Never fear. The money we pay CEOs will eventually somehow reach down low to those kids who couldn't get a decent education, so you do-gooder liberals can dry your pink eyes. But do these kids really need that much education anyway? Hell...when we pay the defense CEOs the big bucks, there are that many more fulfilling jobs for those sticking pins in grenades and applying the adhesive to duct tape.

Sheesh. How many music and literature and art and advanced math classes do you need for those kinds of American jobs, anyway?
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 9:30 AM on May 1, 2003

It's not about class. Its not about poor communities. My school district is in a budget crunch and they're tearing down my neighbor's $300K house to put up a $1M McMansion. I don't live in a poor community (perhaps the crappiest house on the block though), but this school district is suffering as well.

I'd like to find a school district in this country that doesn't have a serious budget problem.
posted by kat at 9:46 AM on May 1, 2003

The Federal Government provides for the national defense. State governments pay for school.

fold: what's a solution you would recommend to the whole "CEO Bob makes the same amount of money that the bottom 10,000 employees in his company make combined" issue?
posted by techgnollogic at 9:48 AM on May 1, 2003

Someone might tell Dr. Hellman that, during the GD and WW2, teaching was one of the lowest-paid occupations in the country - far lower than current teacher pay.

I'm not saying higher salaries are the only reason that Oregon is in trouble (I went to HS in Oregon, and I blame the initiative process, which lets jackass ideas become law and allows the state govt. a copout when there's a hard decision to make, like raising taxes). It certainly is one reason, though. The decade of high unemployment is another.
posted by Kevs at 9:48 AM on May 1, 2003

Kevs: Yes, and we all know that being unemployed prior to welfare & unemployment payments was far far better than working as a low-paid teacher. And of course a dollar buys the same now as it did in 1931.

You seem to have no point.
posted by Cerebus at 9:52 AM on May 1, 2003

Riiiight, Kevs. Those damn teachers, having the audacity to get a living wage. And not buying coal for the furnace. Why, gasp!, some of them are even dating!

It's time to take teaching back to its roots.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:56 AM on May 1, 2003

In other news, the CEO of Magna International, an auto-parts maker, was compensated over $30 million last year. His actual wage was only $200K, but he got a helluva bonus.

This is, of course, unsurprising: the trend over the past decade has been to pay directors extravagently rather than returning that money to shareholders as dividends, or providing better benefits to employees, or even just investing it back into the company.

The system is clearly out of control.

Fortunately, it looks like there's going to be retribution. The major stockholders in MGA-N are vowing to give the current board of directors the big ol' boot in the ass. My hope is that this is the start of a trend towards responsible fiscal policies. A rationalization of corporate management and compensation. The return of common sense.

With any luck, we'll see the same throughout the business world, and that in turn will come around to seeing the value in investing in education.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:01 AM on May 1, 2003

"Better be armed than educated" is also part of the Taliban doctrine. In any event, didn't the U.S. federal government just slash veteran's benefits (or is/was about to?).
posted by magullo at 10:04 AM on May 1, 2003


Invest more money in education, especially critical thinking skills. Invest less money on the 'leave no child behind' teach-to-the-test policy. The federal government does provide money for state elementary and high school and college educations (did you think Title IX was a bizarre experiment or lyrical flight of fancy?), so cough up some extra funds by spending less money on the military (which will in turn reduce bonuses to defense contractor CEOs). I don't think any of this is that difficult.

The difficulty comes in during allocation of federal funds. The courts have consistently rules that apart from the concerns of equal protection and a few other constitutional issues, the feds cannot control distrubution of funds at the state or local level. This may be good, or it may be bad. Regardless, the way state education boards work, the money rarely goes to the schools most in need of it. The poorest schools are not usually represented on these boards, not even associationally, and so you end up with the kind fo stuff Kozol talk about in his work in the inner city. Those schools still receive federal funds, but funds are also spent on schools that don't need supllemental funding as badly, since higher property tax income takes care of the problem. The only solutions to this issue: a) replace federal judges with ones willing to change the past rulings, b) enact legally and constitutionally binding amendments about equal opportunity in education (which seems radical until you realize how well it might solve the current aff action debate), or c) when all that fails, vouchers, for good or for bad, provide the only alternative.

Regardless, we don't even reach the level where these difficult decisions have to be made, because we refuse to raise taxes or divert funds from places that could do with a few less million in their annual bonus check.
posted by hank_14 at 10:11 AM on May 1, 2003

five fresh, cerebus...hold on. First, of course, I mean wages in real terms, not 1931 dollars. Teachers in Oregon makes 46,000 dollars per year on average, before benefits (which are, for teachers, among the best of any job available - I think the usual rule of thumb is that benefits for teachers is around double their salary, not even including the long vacations). High school teachers tend to get paid *more* than the average.

Living wage? Teachers get paid way, way more than the living wage. They're not starving to death, or anything close.

In any case, I didn't say teacher salaries were the problem, just that they're part of a problem. The initiative process, which has been used in Oregon by lefty nutjobs as much as righty nutjobs, lets the state legislature avoid raising taxes (because they pass it off as an "initiative", like the Measure 28 mentioned already). Oregon needs to raise taxes to pay for better schools, I agree.

They also need to cut long-term tenure benefits for teachers. They need to stop wasting so much money on state standardization programs. They need to allow more city-level control of school funding. They need to not waste the non-school tax money they get right now on boondoggles like PERD.

I don't understand this "teachers cut salaries? Heavens no!" reaction. It's a recession. It's part of the business cycle. Everyone's salaries go down temporarily, then go back up even higher in the boom. There's no reason that teachers salaries in Oregon should have went up 13%, on average, over the last five years, when comparative growth simply isn't seen among most other job sectors.

(As an aside, hank rightly points out that Fed money can't really be used for Education anyway - that whole 10th amendment thing. Should we cut defense spending? Sure, though the Rice Doctrine style of millitary planning is much less costly in the long run. But how that affects education spending is, also, beyond me).
posted by Kevs at 10:19 AM on May 1, 2003

Careful. I didn't say that the fed money can't be used for education. I said that the federal government cannot control how money alloted for education will be used by the states once provided. Here's a quick CATO link on that point, so even the cons can believe it.
posted by hank_14 at 10:28 AM on May 1, 2003

hank_14: Some good points, but I don't think vouchers deserve mention.

There aren't enough private school seats to accomodate the numbers of public school students who would be interested in them. Short supply and high demand results in tuition increases beyond the amount of the voucher-- which means lower-income families cannot afford the schools.

In addition, private schools are not bound to provide transportation to and from school. This is also a barrier to lower income families who may not have the means or the time to schlepp the kids to school (or be there when they get out-- jobs are pesky like that). Additionally, in some areas there may not even be a private school within a reasonable distance!

Finally, underperforming schools (which parents understandably want to remove their children from) tend to be in lower income areas, where the above problems are most prevalent.

This confluence of factors reveal the voucher idea for what it really is: a con game aimed at providing public monies as an education subsidy for wealthier families. 'School choice' has fsck-all to do with it, and it's certainly not an alternative means of correcting school funding problems.
posted by Cerebus at 10:46 AM on May 1, 2003

If you could go back 4 years in a time machine, lock up ALL corporate CEO's and donate ALL their companies profits to the states to fund education - you'd still be right where we are today. Why? Because half of that actually did happen, for all practical purposes.

No the CEOs aren't in jail, but state revenues are up over 60% from what they were 4 years ago. State revenues increased by a greater dollar amount than coporate profits did over that time.

So why are the states broke? - they spent all the money! And surprise, most of it went to pork barrel infrastructure projects, empire building, corporate welfare, and sweet deals for politically connected insiders.

So now that revenue is not rising fast enough to pay for it all, cuts have to made. But instead of cutting the cash for the politically favored and connected, they are taking it from the schools.

Even Herbert gets this: "They are simply demanding that state legislators and other responsible officials find a solution — and soon — to a problem that is as absurd as it is destructive."

So kat, in your post are you asking these governors and legislators why they did this? Are you holding them accountable and demanding that they cut the sweetheart deals instead of education? No, you are distracting attention from their responsibility for the decisions they made by dragging in defense contractors.

That can't help the children of Oregon, no matter how much you don't like those defense contractors.
posted by Jos Bleau at 10:48 AM on May 1, 2003

Kevs, I think you are the first person in the history of the earth to claim that teachers are paid too much.

I don't have a problem with teachers getting a 13% increase in salary, especially considering they are grossly underpaid to begin with. Most other sectors don't need legisaltion to decrease or increase their pay, so I understand why teachers really fight against pay cuts: because they have to fight even harder to see them raised. I say pay them more! $45K doesn't get you anywhere near easy street.
posted by alou73 at 10:48 AM on May 1, 2003

I just had a vision of the future! State legislatures just *give up* on ALL spending that *isn't* PORK spending. First they spin off mental health care, then privatize the prisons, then privatize public education, then weeeeeee!, ALL expenditures are JUST to get themselves re-elected.


Mankind is the only animal that laughs and has a State Legislature.
posted by kablam at 10:57 AM on May 1, 2003

thomcatspike: Greater spin has never been said. I salute you.

well i'm going to have to give credit to thomcatspike for the most frightening post i've seen here in awhile. Maybe as a 16 year old i would have liked to skip all my classes and not study physics (and i was a public school kid who graduated not too long ago (97)),

Let me share, I took 5 years of Math in 4, how? I doubled up on Algebra II with Geometry my sophomore year so I could take Calculous my senior year. A slacker I was not even though I was thought as one, a smack. To do this, I had to take my driving and health class the previous summer to open the elective for the Algebra II class. Even took a computer class in summer- school because it was not part of my graduating curriculum. When I was in jr high took some open college course too.

But let me say, you can learn anywhere if you want to. How go to the Public Library, it not about getting an A.

can't taint the pure white driven snow of the children's souls with anti-American crap like reading and writing and independent thinking and joy of learning, so that they can better fulfill their pre-selected corporate destinies as insignificant cogs in the business machines.

What I'm starting to think why public school was started. Notice when the father's of public school are shown with a children in a picture; they are handing out dimes. I know many people who grew up on a farm yet seem brighter than the city folks that went to the same schools. And also spent less time in them. It is about money though for money. Now I read the article as classes for high school level. When was the last time you looked at the current high school curriculum and compared it to when you graduated?

I took a lot of classes in high school I will never use. Plus if you take them too early, the technology is out dated. Like Fortran in college, what was that all about as it only made me hate computers. Y2k partially existed because of Fortran to show you how useless it was.

I'm not against education; just see it used to much that it over loads the brain when one trying to find his/her own path in their current life.

Back to the scholarships, I see most taking your higher math & sci classes for this one purpose yet have no plans to go further with it in college or the rest of thei life.
posted by thomcatspike at 11:53 AM on May 1, 2003

What I'm starting to think why public school was started. Notice when the father's of public school are shown with a children in a picture; they are handing out dimes.

Maybe this is my inadequate public school education coming back to haunt me, but I really didn't understand any of this.
posted by 4easypayments at 12:05 PM on May 1, 2003

4 easypayments, Can't remember if it was Carnegie off hand(been at work too long, tired), but he was known to hand out dimes to children as a philanthropist. Yet he always had a picture taken of it too, found that odd. Was not able to find any pictures on net or I would have shown you.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:24 PM on May 1, 2003

but some of us actually believe that national defense is important, too.

I do. Tell me, how much of this national defense money has actually been spent defending our nation?

"It's always the old to lead us to the war, always the young to fall."
posted by PrinceValium at 12:27 PM on May 1, 2003

thomcatspike: Education != job training. Get that through your head, please. The job of schools is not to train up good little worker bees.

Other than that, that post needs a [-1 incoherent] moderation; it really made no sense whatsoever. Maybe you needed to repeat some classes.
posted by Cerebus at 1:05 PM on May 1, 2003

It's a recession. It's part of the business cycle. Everyone's salaries go down temporarily, then go back up even higher in the boom.

Everyone's salaries? When was the last time you saw a board of directors take a pay cut? When was the last time they took more of a pay cut than the "means of production", ie. employees?

thom: schools were founded as a means for creating a literate workforce for the industrial age. Previous to the industrial revolution there was no need for formal public schooling, because the general public were either labourers or craftsmen, who could learn their skills through apprenticeship.

Originally, schools taught children to conform, to be on time, to work hard at a single task, and provided a basic literacy level that allowed them to participate in factory and managerial work.

Schools also provided a means of indoctrinating children -- particularly immigrant children -- into society. They were forced to learn English, learn new customs, etcetera.

It's a pretty sordid thing when you look back at the history of it all, but also a necessary thing.

If there's anything unfortunate about schools today, it's that they haven't made the changes necessary to prepare today's children for tomorrow's world. I don't think the 9-to-5 factory model is going to fly all that well twenty years from now.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:14 PM on May 1, 2003

For I stole California from the Mexican land, your song
Prince Valium you may want to check your history in that song; like the Southern California area. Example; whom Gen George Patton's parents were, or the Irvines or the Yorba Linda Family.

Cerebus, apologize it was incoherent as I'm tired, I'm off to nap.

Education != job training. Get that through your head, please.
Education prepares you for the training of the occupation you choose. A job is something you do to pay your bills. An occupation is something you love to do; why it occupies your time, imho.
posted by thomcatspike at 1:19 PM on May 1, 2003

Like Fortran in college, what was that all about as it only made me hate computers. Y2k partially existed because of Fortran to show you how useless it was.

IIRC that was COBOL. Besides which, Fortran is a: still in use, and b: is probably as good a first language as any. Sure it's not going to be the language your average programmer ends up using, but neither is Pascal, and that was most CS students first language when I was still in school.

I mean, if you hate Fortran, you're going to have a shit-fit over C++.

FORTRAN guarantees no-aliasing of data, which allows for numerous automatic optimisations, including parallelisation of code. Very handy on super-computers.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 3:41 PM on May 1, 2003

IIRC that was COBOL.

OK, my mistake, it was also Fortran 90.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 3:47 PM on May 1, 2003

Maybe you needed to repeat some classes.

Cerebus, Let me repeat for you, I was commenting about education in high school level so your clear the education level I was commenting. Also in reading the comments too, I sided tracked too. I mentioned the level the article was discussing in my first comment. The electives today are fantastic but feel the graduating curriculum is too much.
posted by thomcatspike at 10:47 AM on May 2, 2003

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