Why Teachers Are Being Laid Off

August 23, 2010

In this photo taken on Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2010, ...

If you want to know why teachers are being laid off in California (even if teaching has remained one of the most secure jobs nationwide) you might want to check out this new $578 million high school in LA Unified School District.  As we’ve written before on JPGB, buildings don’t teach kids, people do.  Given the way school districts squander their resources, maybe they’ll soon need another $26 billion in Edujobs from Congress (read: taxpayers).

[CORRECTION — Oops.  This is actually a photo of a different (and much less costly) high school in LA, the Visual and Performing Arts High School.  I can only imagine that the new $578 million high school is plated in gold.]

Thanks to Stuart for finding a photo of the $578 million high school.  It doesn’t look plated in gold so I guess the gold is on the inside:


Why I am Voting For the Millage

August 13, 2010

I intend to vote for the school millage increase in Fayetteville on September 21.  I know that my supporting a millage increase seems as likely as pigs flying, but both can happen — I support local taxes that are well-spent.  I also believe those Razorbacks will soar this year.

I opposed the previous millage effort, but I did so because it seemed extravagant and wasteful.  Much of the current high school is adequate and there was no need to demolish it entirely and replace it with a new Taj Mahal.  Besides, there is no evidence that fancy buildings improve education. Buildings don’t teach kids, people do.

But the voters soundly rejected the previous millage by almost 2 to 1 and the school board got the message.  They scaled back their plans, found clever ways to economize by keeping much of the current structure, and they took full advantage of federally subsidized loans.

Now the school board is asking for a more modest millage increase to take even more advantage of those federal loan plans and save $29 million in interest.  Voting for this millage is a no-brainer.  The only effect of rejecting it would be that we would pay$29 million more in interest payments on the same school construction loans we are going to take out anyway.  We’ll have to pay that $29 million someday with a larger millage increase or force $29 million in operational cuts, which could be done but certainly won’t be comfortable.

I have to confess that I hesitated for a few moments in supporting even this no-brainer.  The current school board has not earned my trust or confidence with their past bumbling on plans for the high school, their embrace of 21st Century Skills nonsense, and their phony public input cheer-leading events.  I don’t even like the name of the pro-millage group, Smart Fayetteville Committee, since it is obviously manipulative and not-at-all smart to dub whatever you support “smart.”

I also have to confess that if I had my druthers we would have two, smaller high schools rather than remodeling one big one.  I would gladly pay an even higher new millage for that.  But that option is not on the table.  The school district has moved forward with its remodeling plan and now our only choice is whether to pay more or less in interest payments.  I prefer paying less in interest even if it means having a higher millage for a while.


Steyn Nails the Buildingpalooza

March 23, 2009

fancy-church

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

In the back of the new National Review, Mark Steyn’s column absolutely nails the giant new gusher of money for school buildings. Subscribers can read it online; for everyone else – well, for everyone else, online subscriptions to NR are cheap and you should have one. But here’s a taste, just in case you don’t believe everything I say implicitly:

Steyn follows up on the supposedly awful school bulding in Dillon, S.C. highlighted recently by the president and finds a number of holes in the story, such as:

Incidentally, you may have read multiple articles referring to the “113-year-old building.” Actually, that’s the building behind the main school — the original structure from 1896, where the school district has its offices. But if, like so many people, you assume an edifice dating from 1896 or 1912 must ipso facto be uninhabitable, bear in mind that the central portion of the main building was entirely rebuilt in 1983. That’s to say, this rotting, decrepit, mildewed Dotheboys Hall of a Gothic mausoleum dates all the way back to the Cyndi Lauper era.

He then moves on to the larger issues:

If a schoolhouse has peeling paint and leaking ceilings, what’s the best way to fix it? . . . Dillon, S.C., is a town of about 6,000 people. Is there really no way they can organize acceptable accommodation for a two-grade junior high school without petitioning the Sovereign in Barackingham Palace? . . . The issue is not the decrepitude of the building but the decrepitude of liberty. Maybe the president can spend enough of our money to halt the degradation of infrastructure. The degradation of citizenship will prove harder to reverse.