Education cuts painful, but responsible
Mar 27, 2012 | 1850 views | 0 0 comments | 36 36 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The decision last week by Marshall County Schools to cut its teaching staff was most certainly a grim one. Not as bad as it could have been, certainly, but not good news by any stretch of the imagination.

For those individuals who stand to lose their jobs, it is ominous indeed. Despite the cliché that such decisions are “business, not personal,” this decision could hardly be more personal in its impact on those who will be deleted from the payroll.

Rosy election-year forecasts and temporary stop-gap measures designed to impress (deceive) voters notwithstanding, things may very well get worse before they begin to get better. Our national economic malaise is part of a global embarrassment.

From national governmental entities down to individual citizens, we have been living too large on too little real capability and too much credit for far too long. We have been obsessed with excess.

Those chickens do come home to roost. They are doing so now.

The opinion here is that the local school district is as innocent of irresponsible behavior as any governmental agency we can think of. It is a good organization, run by good people with the best of intentions.

It isn’t that the teacher and instructional aide jobs that are going to be lost were ever superfluous. They were needed, not merely wanted for luxury or appearance’s sake.

And now, because of a perfect storm of circumstances, they simply are not necessary – or affordable – anymore.

The local school system’s diligent focus on its mission is impressive, given the federal and state budgetary strings by which it dangles. For all the good high-level governmental bureaucracies may do, there is considerable (inordinate, from this perspective) interference and micromanagement that comes with it.

“Bullying” is a topic of high interest in education nowadays. It’s hardly a stretch to suggest that the schools themselves are bullied by bureaucrats in high places.

But even under the best conditions, with more help than hindrance from Frankfort and Washington, it would be a daunting task the school board faces.

To be blunt, to avoid the cuts it voted last week to make, the district would have had to be short-changing its students all along. If it had never hired a number of teachers to adequately serve the student population, it would not be required to make cuts now – not yet, anyway.

From the perspective, the school board has been neither stingy nor extravagant. It has tried all along to do what is right and best, and it is still living up to that high standard.

It has scrambled not merely to keep up, but to stay ahead, which is what the community should demand of it. It staffed its 10 schools at levels intended to produce the best results for the children of the community.

Now, it is taking what it deems necessary but painful steps to avoid falling behind in fiscal responsibility.

In absolutely no way is the school district to blame for what it is being forced to do.

If only all layers of government, and all corporate entities, and all private citizens, did such a good job, we would not be in the monumental mess we are all in.
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