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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Let's Not Forget Why We Don't Have Education Dollars

So this thread is a bit of mind-wandering on my part but maybe you can tease out something to comment on.  It came from a couple of places.  One was this that a friend wrote on his Facebook page:

"Remember when teachers, public employees, Planned Parenthood, NPR and PBS crashed the stock market, wiped out half of our 401Ks, took trillions in TARP money, spilled oil in the Gulf of Mexico, gave themselves billions in bonuses, and paid no taxes?

Yeah, me neither."
This came on the heels of my husband and I watching the Oscar-winning documentary, Inside Job, about the collapse of the financial industry and our own economy.  It's a lot of guys in suits talking so not a lot of action but oh their words.  It takes your breath away.  As the director/producer said, when accepting the Oscar, "To date, nobody has gone to jail for what they did."  

Because folks, a lot of things are hurting our economy and, in turn, public education.  We had the financial market downturn, bailouts, and we're funding 2 wars.  I'd have to go do some research for an exact number but among all of that, our country is spending billions and billions of dollars.  It's money that is lost to other uses. 

GE paid no corporate taxes last year.   All its companies and zero taxes.  They made a profit but have the most savvy lawyers and accountants, bar none, and paid no taxes to support our country.  I'm grateful for the jobs they generate but they are also using roads and other government resources. 

Salon reports this:

Liberty University, the evangelical private Christian school founded by dead apartheid-supporting bigot Jerry Falwell, received $445 million in federal financial aid last year. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, by the way, received $420 million from the federal government.
That massive sum was thanks to the growth of Liberty's online program, which enrolled 52,000 students last year. The school is the No. 1 recipient of Pell grant money in the state of Virginia.

Senator Kyl of Arizona said this (on the Senate floor):
"Well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does" was provide abortions. The correct figure is actually closer to three percent.

So that's a big fat lie. 

But then, "Kyl then attempted to walk this back, telling CNN that his remark "was not intended to be a factual statement, but rather to illustrate that Planned Parenthood, a organization that receives millions of dollars in taxpayer funding, does subsidize abortions."

Again, false.  The government does not allow any money given to Planned Parenthood to be used for abortions.

In our own state, we had several high-profile citizens like Bill Gates, Sr. who said he would pay more taxes.  Ditto Warren Buffet.  And yet, the big budget sticking point for Republicans is ending tax cuts for wealthy Americans.  They have the firepower to get mad at NPR and PBS but it's okay to give millions to a university that teaches creationism. 

Obviously, I'm a liberal.  But this not about being on the right or the left.  This is about every American paying their fair share including wealthy Americans.  It's about an industry who got bailed out, giving back to the citizens who saved their asses and not about taking more.  It's about our lawmakers being factual when talking about how we spend money in our country.

I also have a question in this.  There is some thought of furloughs next year for schools.   The majority of voters in our state voted for the following:
  • got rid of the soda pop/water bottle tax (so fewer funds)
  • turned down a measure to tax wealthy people more (funded by Bill Gates, Sr.)
  • a measure to say that the Legislature can't enact more taxes without a 2/3rds vote
Clearly, the people have spoken.  I think the pain is becoming apparent and will get worse.

So what say you on the furloughs?  Should they be during a day the teachers have for professional development (and thus parents already expected their children not in school that day)?  Or should it be a real live school day? 

Would that be a way for people who voted for less money for government to feel it?  Or would it just hurt students? 

15 comments:

KG said...

A lot of good info. here on this post.

A certain party here seems more bent on destroying the education system so that they can allow their rich friends to profitize more on tax dollars and continue the massive transfer of welath from the working class to the rich.
This really started under the Gipper, and now we are all seeing the outcomes. Well not all of us.

No to furloughs, unless there is a true scaling back of this Districts Central admin.

The rich are to blame for this mess that we are in and The school board tends to not stop it when there is a chance at the local level to do so.

Steve said...

If there is a furlough without significant central administration budget reductions, I suggest we organize a massive parent "teach in" at the District office. 500 parents and kids in the parking lot would send a nice visual message.

Chris S. said...

I always want to challenge that "Clearly, the people have spoken." What sums were spent on marketing campaigns for these initiatives? Who put up that money? Were the people that spoke well-informed? Will they change their mind when their own words begin to hurt them personally? Remember E. Wa gets far more of each tax dollar than King County.

Anonymous said...

Great post Melissa—you express my sentiments exactly.
Massive cuts to Central Admin. and/or furloughs to them—not teachers. My hubby works for the city and had 10 furlough days last year. They alternated Mondays/Fridays with half the department taking one, then the other, so they did not have to close offices, etc. just worked with a short-staff.
SolvayGirl

Lori said...

Exactly, Chris. Take an example. the American Beverage Association donated $16,500,000 to the 1107 campaign, while actual citizens of our state donated only $385. So does that vote, the overturn of the soda/candy tax, represent the "people speaking?"

It's maddening to me that the initiative process can be co-opted by big business this way but there you have it. My numbers are at this sloppy looking link:

http://rss.sightline.org/daily_score/archive/2010/11/01/junk-food-junky-politics?utm_source=BlogRSS&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sightline%2FYmhS+%28The+Daily+Score+blog+-+Sightline+Daily%29

Melissa Westbrook said...

But guys, the votes are what count. Were all these voters fooled by the siren song of "less taxes?" I don't know but, in the end, the numbers were there for these measures to win.

KG said...

Well we know why pwople vote against their own interst and that is because they are bombarded by the advertising dollars spent on the intitiative process by the mega-wealthy. This also happen when Charter schools was being attempted to pas in Washington with very little opposition money.
Though the Charter schools measure Happily failed all three times. Take that Paul Allen.

Patrick said...

The initiative process in Washington is pretty much broken. It was intended as a safety valve for causes that could get a lot of volunteers out to gather signatures. Now, it's professional signature gathers, and it's just another way for big money to get what they want. If the initiative process can't be reformed, it should be scrapped, in my opinion.

We already have too few school days and too many half days. I would hate to have furloughs take even more away.

Kathy said...

Western Washington generally is supportive of taxes. Eastern Washington generally votes down taxes.

Although the economic engine of the state, Seattle keeps $0.36 of the dollar, the rest is spread throughout the state.

The House passed an $8.9 billion dollar transportation package. Transportation is the only thing legislators could agree upon.

Sure would have been nice to put part of that $8.9 billion into our state's educational systems- including higher ed.

Adequately funding education is our state's paramount duty; I don't see it happening.

BettyR said...

I've been saying this for awhile now, "We don't have elections, we have auctions".
It seems like most of the time, whoever puts out the most money, wins (well, gets their way, anyhow).

SP said...

"So what say you on the furloughs? Should they be during a day the teachers have for professional development (and thus parents already expected their children not in school that day)? Or should it be a real live school day?"

Furloughs on regular instructional days to cut costs will NOT be an option for Seattle, at least for the next 2 years when our newly approved waivers are in effect (3 full PD days all schools + 3 full days conferences K-8/1 day MS & HS). All new waivers passed last month by SBE include a clause that IF the legislature passes any legislation allowing a reduction in the number of school days (ie for budget relief), that the number of waived days would be reduced by an equal amount. Thus, Seattle's only option would be to cut "waived" days out of the teacher's calendars, but not student's instructional days.

Charlie Mas said...

I'm going to go one step further down the Wall Street root of the current financial collapse:

The government regulators didn't prevent financial institutions from taking imprudent risks with investors' money because the regulators were influenced by their prior careers and connections in those financial institutions and by legislators who discouraged prudent regulation.

The legislators discouraged the prudent regulation because they, in turn, were influenced by campaign contributions from the financial institutions.

So the Wall Street folks got everything set up so that they could make millions by making book on insane risks with other people's money. They bought off the elected officials and they placed their moles in the regulatory agencies. Then they ran the scam and, in a couple of years, they made more money than some small countries.

Sure, they were thrown out of the business, but they landed softly on some very fat wallets.

dan dempsey said...

OK no convictions or even charges for most in the financial meltdown...except for perhaps WA MU.

I voted for State Income Tax, one of 1 in 3 voters who voted for the tax.

I would likely not vote for income tax again if the vote was today.

The State still is spending money on complete idiocy in Education ... CCSS is pointless.

The SPS remains largely irrational.
Bloat, Bloat.

That is partially why I would vote NO Income tax... When Edie Harding and Mary Jean Ryan of SBE were still pushing CORE 24 in spite of little money and the complete failure to provide effective interventions, I must believe these folks should receive NO Money, as they are clueless.

We have an unresponsive Oligarchy posing as administrators. ... New intelligent Blood is needed.

I would happily pay more tax as I did vote for income tax. The current situation is intolerable but money is hardly the entire problem.

We have run out of money.
Time to try thinking rather than continued stupidity. The more folks might vote for income tax.

I will conceed that the Massively Funded NO TAX push likely influenced many.

SPS is a great example for how bureaucrats thwart the efforts of parents and teachers.

ws1 said...

The first thing we need to do is stop subsidizing the very people who are out to destroy our system. If the people of Eastern Washington want a "small" government, we can start by not subsidizing them. If we kept "our" money here in Western WA, we could pay for many more of the things we voted FOR (as a group) and they voted AGAINST (again, as a group).

Easy, fair, predictable.

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