Saturday, March 08, 2008

Our Future, Written Today for Tomorrow

There is still four months of school left before summer. Governor Schwarzenegger has reduced California’s school budget by 4.4 billion dollars. What happens next is a slow process (figure the following as a worst case scenario, they still might find some additional funds).

Let’s Pick one school district in our grand and glorious state of Kalofornya; Poway Unified School District. Their share of reductions amounts to 15.5 million dollars. The school district will shave 7.8 million off what they need cut by laying off 150 employees (mostly teachers). So March 15 the pink slips go out. These teachers will finish out the school year in June. Add to a housing surplus, a teacher surplus.

Carry the math forward. 7.8 million divided by 150 employees averages out to $52,000 in cost reductions per employee let go. If California schools cut teachers to cover half of their budget reduction, then 50% of 4.4 billion is 2.2 billion dollars. 2.2 billion divided by 52K equals 42,307 planned school lay offs for next September. Of course the 2.2 billion that they would have been paid won’t be spent stimulating the economy, now will it?

Here is a quote from Harpers magazine November 1933 "Deflating the Schools," by Avis D. Carlson

During the first two years of the depression the schools did business about as usual. By September 1931, the strain was beginning to tell. Salary cuts were appearing even in large towns, and the number of pupils per teacher had definitely increased. Building programs had been postponed. In a few communities school terms had been considerably shortened, and in others some of the department and services were being lopped off. . . .

During the 1932-33 term the deflation gathered momentum so rapidly that many communities had to close their schools. By the end of last March nearly a third of a million children were out of school for that reason.

The budget cuts for California are around 14.5 billion. 50% of that is 7.25 billion. Divide that by 52K. It suggests that 139,423 people could be laid off in California next year (don’t wear pink if you work for the state, it’s too suggestive).

Let’s do some Congressional math. Instead of giving California 14.5 billion dollars to help out the county’s largest state economy, they’re going to give away 150 billion dollars to taxpayers. It kind of makes sense; your kid is going to need a High Definition TV to watch when the schools close. Plus make sure to save the cardboard box, it could come in handy if you lose your home.

Copyright 2008 All rights reserved



What the h*** is happening to the land of the free? In the middle of all this, California is persecuting parents for home schooling! The best, sanest children I know in the UK are the three home-schooled by my friends.

Time to tell the government to stick it... What did you have your Revolution for?,1,4399394.story?ctrack=1&cset=true

dearieme said...

"What did you have your Revolution for?"
Taking more land from the Injuns, surely?

Jim in San Marcos said...

Hi Sack

I think it's the schools that want to end the home schooling. Each enrolled kid is $9,000 in budget money from the state. 6 home school kids forced into the system would help keep one teacher employed.

Anonymous said...

Could you splain that in simpler terms for us unedjumicated folk? thanks

Jim in San Marcos said...

Hi Anon 7:35

The school district gets about $9,000 per year for every kid that goes to school in that area from the State and Federal government. Miss a day of school and the school doesn't get paid for kids that are absent.

The schools get no money for kids that are home schooled. California requires a certificate to home school from what I understand. If the law is enforced, a lot of these kids would have to attend a public or private school. The forced enrollment of a Home Schooled kid into the public school system would add $9,000 to the school budget. Six additional kids enrolled would amount to about $54,000, enough to keep one teacher on the payroll.

I guess I was a tad too brief on the remark. Hope this cuts it better.


Jim: this is why home-schoolers should get their share of the budget, or at least some of it. You can do without the soulless, smelly and socially dangerous buildings, and the layers of chiefs telling the indians what to do and how to do it.

Make publicly available lists of expertly-vetted texts and resources that will give home-schooled children a reasonable education; make available objective unit testing that can be taken whenever the parents think the children are ready; and leave the people to rear their own, if that's what they wish to do. As the recession deepens - and lengthens - there'll be more adults who have the time to do it.

And if (say) home-schoolers get 50%of the average per capita funding, maybe two or three families can get together and employ a teacher who left mainstream education in disgust. It wouldn't be difficult: here in the UK, there are more ex-teachers under retirement age than teachers in the school system.


PS: ... and you'd also save your children from the ineffective teaching methodologies that I'm forced to comply with - the Uk has become as lousy as the US, so much so that we're now talking about abolishing A-level exams (the secret reason being that we don't want to know how bad we've become).

My brother in America has just emailed me with a couple of sites on "Direct Instruction" vs. current trendy teaching methods. Looks as though telling the students how to do it, really does work. Well, that's 30 or 40 years of hippie educational innovation out of the window, then.

If you have children of school age, Google it up.

Brian said...

My daughter attends high school in SW Riverside County public school. They have shut off the HVAC systems for all schools to conserve money. Last week, they announced they are no longer going to provide Kleenex for students and have hinted at cutting back on TP. They have also cut most of the after-school programs.

As far as I can tell, all of the budget cuts enacted are done with the idea of inflicting the most discomfort possible on the student body so they will complain to their parents. This in turn is supposed to make the parent beg for tax increases so we can fix the school system.

Anonymous said...

Best thing that could happen would be for the schools to close down and parents and tutors can home school their children. American education is a joke. Look what it has done for the people who run our corporations and governments. They are so far from the line of truth and workability it is a joke. The infrastructure is falling apart here in Calif and throughout the nation. We are all going to pay for who we have elected to Congress and allowed to stay there. For allowing big biz and lobbyists to achieve their financial agendas over the greatest good. An American philosopher once wrote: "The people always elect their executioner." I guess this civilization has to fall and break into pieces before the illogic and corruption can be stopped. Hopefully those who pick up the pieces will take us to the next level. All we've got going for us is the revolution that Ron Paul and his followers have begun.

Jim in San Marcos said...

Hi Anon 8:26

I think you need to cheer up a tad, it can't be all that bad.

Education is one of our strong institutions. You get out of it, what you put into it.

What we are really examining here is the stupidity of political solutions to our current crisis.

This mess has no way of being solved on a political basis. As a Congressman you would probably be shot, arrested or impeached from office for doing the right thing.

It's a little like lancing a boil without any anesthetic. It's going to hurt an awful lot, and they will have to hold you down to do it (that actually happened to me in the Army a long time ago).

Think about it, would you vote for a politician that promised "More pain that you could ever imagine?"

Everyone wants a solution, it's just that no one wants that much pain.

Thank you for your comments.

Jim in San Marcos said...

Hi Brian

The situation is similar here in Poway. My son is in band and in order to keep it an on going thing, we need to donate or do a lot of fund raising.

We need to focus on the fact that the legislature has cut the school budget. Each school can react in a different manner. Where you cut the budget can be painful.

The State legislature knows the easy places to trim their budget, police, fire, and schools. They are doing it.

The thing to realize, $400-$500 donation by us as individuals to help out a school and our kids can do a hell of a lot to alleviate this fiscal/physical pain.

A $100 spent at our level to the school is not subject to government waste. It will be used to educate our kids or keep them comfortable.

I know the question comes up, why should we have to pay? I have no answer, but I wrote the check anyway.

Thank you for your comments

Anonymous said...

Hey hit a chord with me. You quote:

"Make publicly available lists of expertly-vetted texts and resources that will give home-schooled children a reasonable education; make available objective unit testing that can be taken whenever the parents think the children are ready; and leave the people to rear their own, if that's what they wish to do."

Change a few words and you can describe a Low Cost collegiate education too. The current system of "Universities" is antiquated, inefficient and creates an extremely high barrier to entry (read: the high costs).

Why should my kids have to pay for layer upon layer of bureaucracy, football, basketball and all the non-revenue sports; get lousy housing and food; get lousy professors (some not all); and be subjected to immature binge drinking and drug addled "privileged" youths.

College has to change. The internet is the medium. The cost should be next to free.


Anonymous said...

$9000 per kid.<<<<<

Good private schools like the one GWB attended cost about $23K tuition per year.

As long as people want to skimp on taxes, public schools won't measure up. In suburban NYC, for example, school taxes in top notch school districts are about $17K or so. Wise people are willing to pay for good public education.

A lot of fools have bought into the economics of Milton Friedman, which castigate anything government.

Anonymous said...

school taxes in top notch school districts are about $17K or so.<<<<

That is, $17K per student. Sorry.


I agree that collectively-organised services aren't always bad, but there needs to be some alternative that is available to the unrich. If people can (like my friends) home school to a higher standard than is provided by the local school, that's fair competition and challenges the school to prove added value for all the added expense. A bit of funding for that would be fair, especially since the parents have paid for State school places they're not using.

Anonymous said...

I'm the anon that needs to cheer up a tad. Our educational system is based in the agrarian and industrial age and is antiquated. It is inefficient, overly expensive and stultifies the minds of our children. It is just a factory for programming robots. Unless going for a professional degree (doctor, dentist, lawyer, engineer, etc.) it is a waste of time and money. We've allowed inflation and taxes to go up up up, which is why mother can't stay home and raise the children and why father doesn't have more time to spend with the children regarding their homework and extracurricular learning activities. Otherwise homeschooling and tutoring would be playing a much bigger role today. Step aside all that want to continue the current education system... the new education is micro-chip/internet/high-tech based studies; teleconferences and webinars; workshops, clinics and seminars; CD/DVD/Book series; mentors; life coaches; etc. etc.

I'm a real estate investor and small business owner. High school and college was a total waste of time. All you need is readin, rightin and rithmatic. Looking back... I should've dropped out of school as soon as possible... gone to the library and studied relevant books... done apprenticeships (like under my uncle who was a successful commercial real estate broker)... found mentors... developed my experience and streetsmarts and gone the entrepreneurial way. Probably would've been able to retire by age 35.

Jim in San Marcos said...

Hi Anon 8:50

What I meant by cheer up, was that there are a lot of positive aspects about our education system. Our country has gone from 6% graduation from high school in 1900 to 85% today.

Schools also teach us how to interact with one another and give you a glimpse of the real world out there, home schooling can't offer that.

My grandfather did very well with a 6th grade education a lot of it home schooled.

I just don't think that a majority of Americans have the time to teach their kids. My parents never even helped me with my homework.

College didn't help me get a job, but courses like economics, history and philosophy gave me an understanding of the real world.

Knowledge that you haven't been introduced to is something that doesn't exist as far as your own mind is concerned.

Education opens the doors, from there it is up to the individual.

Sorry about the cheer up remark, it was a bad choice of words.

Thank you for your comments

Anonymous said...

Why leave 2006 in the title? I expect a hard landing in 2010 but I wouldn't even recommend that in the title. How about "The Next Great Depression"

Jim in San Marcos said...

Hi Anon

We're on schedule for the great depression. Should be full blown by 2009.

A point I have made several times is that during the Great Depression of 1929, nobody knew they were in it until 1932. The ironic thing was that people in financial assets, road them down into the ground believing that the market would come back. It never did in their lifetime.

I could change the title but I would have to keep the web link title. This way no one is confused.

Thank you for your suggestions

Take care

Anonymous said...

Catholic girl here-
I guess my understanding of financial history is deficient. Why didn't they know they were in the depression until 1932? And why now will it be a depression instead of a recession? Is it just the extent of the pain or other factors?

Jim in San Marcos said...

Hi Catholic Girl

Not many people read this far back.

A depression doesn't just sneak up on you. It starts out gradually getting worse and worse. A recession is the first step into further trouble.

History writes that the Great Depression started in 1929. The only thing that is really tied to that is the stock market drop in October. The market did come back, but by 1932 it was down by 90%. Most of the banks were toast and an awful lot of people were out of work.

It's a little like getting lost in the woods. The longer you stay lost, the more serious your predicament is.

I would say that we are headed for a full blown depression because of the fact that real estate has gotten far worse in one year than it did in the last downturn that took 8 years to hit a bottom. The acceleration factor is mind boggling.

Here is a link to some quotes from that era. Pay attention to the dates.

If you study it much, the Great Depression was gradual and a lot of people were in denial. By 1932 there was no argument. Things were really bad.

The whole theme of my blog is right below the title. "Its a place undefined in time, a location that no one would ever willingly travel to. Are we there yet? The answer is yes. But its going to take two or three years for the reality to sink in."

Hope this answers your question, and thank you for reading so far back. Take care