School Funds Extended in Atlanta Area

Yesterday, voters in five of our counties voted to extend a one-cent on the dollar sales tax. Proceeds go to fund school construction projects. Now, I think the voters’ hearts were in the right place, but this is going to raise up to an estimated 2.4 billion (yes, you read that correctly) dollars.

I do realize that there is an overcrowding problem in many of Atlanta’s school districts. That being said, if there is this much money being thrown at our area’s students, how in the hell are we lagging so far behind in national education rankings? Oh, yeah . . . because having a large, airy, shiny new classroom building does not necessarily mean that the students inside that building can read.

Literacy, however, doesn’t bestow power on anyone but the kids themselves. Construction contracts on the other hand? I am thinking that there is a whole lot of power involved in wielding 2.4 billion dollars worth of yet-to-be-awarded construction contracts.

Maybe I am cynical, but maybe – just maybe – we have our priorities a little messed up. What if we were to use half of this money to fund literacy programs for our illiterate students and their illiterate parents? In my opinion, that would be the best use of this massive amount of taxpayer’s money.

Something to think about anyway.

via AJC

12 Comments so far

  1. Paulie [eatl/ga] (unregistered) on March 21st, 2007 @ 4:57 pm

    Looks like my vote didn’t count…. again.

    I thought that The Lottery was Education’s Knight on White Horse. Why should I have continue to pay another one percent on all my my purchases?

  2. John (unregistered) on March 22nd, 2007 @ 12:50 am

    Annie, you’re not being cynical, just impractical. The schools are trying to keep up with the influx from south of the border and north of the Mason-Dixon line. Talk about a high-wire act…

  3. Annie (unregistered) on March 22nd, 2007 @ 8:11 am

    Paulie – Agreed. If you are an employer and someone is doing a crappy job, you would probably fire them. You definitely wouldn’t throw them more money. It just doesn’t make sense.

    John – I don’t think I am being impractical. Is it impractical to expect that kids should be able to read, and that we should be sure we have a curriculum and program that works before we worry about the rest? Uncrowding kids is not going to teach them to read. It is just going to make them more comfortable and complacent in their illiteracy.

    Before teachers jump all over me, I must say that I am not criticizing them. They have an impossibly hard job with little monetary reward. I am criticizing the institutions and administrations who have us over a barrel. It may not be their fault (and I don’t think it IS their fault – I think it is the fault of the parents that kids can’t read), but they are the ones expected to show results. When they continue to graduate kids who can’t read, they are not showing us any results for our money. Any well-run company would fire them. We are not allowed to fire them.

    Call me impractical, but there is a point where you have to cut your losses and say, “This is not working, no matter how much money we throw at it. We need to rethink this.” A monumental task, but one that I think has to be undertaken if we are going to compete on an international level with students in other parts of the world.

    Then also, as John pointed out, there is a problem with illegal immigration and people receiving our services without paying taxes. Obviously, there is no easy answer.

  4. Jim V. (unregistered) on March 23rd, 2007 @ 9:40 am

    There’s nothing more enlightening that two libertarians and a Republican discussing how funding for schools and school performance are not correlated.

  5. Annie (unregistered) on March 23rd, 2007 @ 2:12 pm

    Ha! Jim, if you are looking to metblogs for enlightenment, you will be sorely disappointed. if you are looking for interesting discussion, look no further. And if you’d really like to make things more interesting, why don’t you make it two Libs, a Republican, and one Democrat. I will start: First of all, I was not saying that I had a huge problem with the funding, but with the way the money was being spent.

    You are very quick to criticize, but not so quick to give us your own thoughts on solutions. What do you see as the relationship between school funding and school performance?

  6. gretagretchen (unregistered) on March 24th, 2007 @ 7:30 pm

    Kind of a side point but last time I looked I thought the main taxes for education were still tied to property taxes. And since illegals tend to rent property they are playing into the tax system that supports education.

  7. Annie (unregistered) on March 25th, 2007 @ 8:03 am

    GG – That is an interesting point. They may be playing into the system, but that is not the same as paying into the system. Also, if there are multiple families renting one residence, are the number of students really being fairly represented by the taxation? p.s. I am not saying that all illegals crowd into single apartments, so don’t jump all over me.

  8. gretagretchen (unregistered) on March 26th, 2007 @ 10:44 am

    I dunno Annie. I kind of feel like you’re working on the same logic path as someone who thinks that they shouldn’t have to pay school taxes because they don’t have kids in the system.

    Also, illegals who work legit jobs (of which there are many) are paying into the system through someone else’s social security number. Although that doesn’t relate to schools necessarily, I would venture to say that far more illegals are paying into a system they can never take advantage of than burdening the “honest american worker”.

  9. Annie (unregistered) on March 26th, 2007 @ 2:09 pm

    GG – You are right. You have called me out on it, and I will admit to it, even though the rest of this will probably get me flamed by a slew of angry Socialist readers.

    Fundamentally, i do have a problem with paying for someone else’s children to go to school. I just don’t see it as my obligation or responsibility. The way I see it, you squirt it or birth it, then take the step to educate and provide for it.

    In a perfect world, I think that our education system would be privatized. I don’t really think that a government that tries to have its finger in every pie is going to do a good job baking each and every one of them. They can’t even plan road improvements and trash pickup well, why would I want them to be responsible for educating my kids?

    All of that being said, I realize that for our society to continue chugging along, someone has to help the kids of the idiots who had children but didn’t bother to educate them themselves, but rather expect someone else to do it for them.

    I think there are a lot of people out there who would love to help, but aren’t too excited about signing a check over to the government to be responsible for doing it. My original post was not so much a comment on my problem with the taxation itself, as it was the administration and use of the funds. I mean, seriously. If I gave someone one million dollars to provide me with a service, and they didn’t produce that service, why in the HELL would i cut them a check for 2.4 billion dollars to continue providing me with the same shitty service? Talk about a flawed “logic path.”

    Bring it on, Internet. I am sure you will have something to say about my comments. :-)

  10. Annie (unregistered) on March 26th, 2007 @ 2:24 pm

    Almost forgot to address the illegals comment. . . .

    I never said illegals weren’t working legitimate jobs. I didn’t imply that they were less than hard-working. But it is not honest to come into a foreign country by illegal avenues and take advantage of that country’s taxpayers. Do you really think that the amount of taxes “payed” (through rent) is equal to the burden put on our country by medical costs for uninsured illegal aliens?

    Or what about the school issue? For example, if the allotted funds per student per year in Gwinnett County comes to $7250 and a family of four illegals spends say, $750/month on rent ($9000/year), and they have two kids using our schools, that is $14,500. Their tax “burden” doesn’t really add up to that, now does it?

    I am no expert on this subject. It just seems to me that if you want to be treated like a full citizen, with the services allotted to citizens, then you should proceed with a legal immigration process, rather than milking the people of the country of which you so terribly want to be a part.

    Ugh, GG. Consider yourself a goddess in the “tricking Annie into math” category. Me no likey numbers. :-)

  11. gretagretchen (unregistered) on March 27th, 2007 @ 3:29 pm

    Quoted from Annie –“Or what about the school issue? For example, if the allotted funds per student per year in Gwinnett County comes to $7250 and a family of four illegals spends say, $750/month on rent ($9000/year), and they have two kids using our schools, that is $14,500. Their tax “burden” doesn’t really add up to that, now does it?”

    Well I am not sure how that “illegal” family of 4 is more of burden than a “legal” family of 4 paying the same rent. And actually it’s the landlord who pays the taxes and the rent goes towards those taxes. I would assume the landlord is going to charge enough rent to cover their property tax bill. And by your logic if I have 3 kids but my property taxes only cover the allotment for 2 then I am unfairly taking advantage of the system. Or is it OK for me to do that because I am an American citizen?

    You seem woefully ignorant of the state of immigration in the United States. There is no legal immigration process for people who came to the US illegally that doesn’t set them up for deportation. Nor is there a process for people who came legally originally on work visa but have had their job situation change while in the US. Luckily, it’s a problem you’ll ever have to face.

  12. Annie (unregistered) on March 27th, 2007 @ 4:22 pm

    Well, I said that i was no expert on the subject. I guess really my point is that all of the kids of parents who pay no property taxes are a burden on the taxpayers, but at least the legals have taxed income (in theory.) The point is that the illegals are paying nothing and receiving an education and putting strains on our system.

    And yes, I do think that American citizens should receive services that illegals do not receive. The legal citizens, while not necessarily paying property taxes, are here LEGALLY and are citizens of the country. The illegals are not. If you want to become an American, go through the correct legal process. I welcome you with open arms.

    No, I haven’t entered the country illegally and then pursued citizenship, so I don’t have a full understanding of the process. But no, I don’t understand why there SHOULD be a process for gaining citizenship after committing the crime of entering the country illegally. These people know that what they are doing is a crime? If you want to join the country, why would you do so by breaking that country’s immigration laws? That does not seem smart or logical or right to me.

    As for the visa, if you come here and your job changes, and you were here on a WORK visa, then you go back to your home country. That was the deal. It just doesn’t seem like a difficult concept to me.

    As for “it’s a problem you’ll ever have to face,” it seems that if I am paying for other people’s kids to go to school, then I am facing the problem of illegal immigration.

    I appreciate that this is a problem, and that there are children’s futures involved, but you seem to think it is the right of anyone to walk up to me and expect me to pay for the children that they brought into the world. I just don’t see it that way. Completely different worldviews. It doesn’t mean that I don’t care, it just means that I don’t see how it is right to let one group of people take advantage of another group. HOW is that fair? What am I so “woefully ignorant” of that would change my thoughts on that unfairness?

    This is exhausting, because neither of us is going to change one another’s mind.

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