By Calvin Palmer
Jacksonville’s public schools are facing a crisis. Duval County School Board, which runs the city’s schools, is facing a $97 million budget shortfall as a result of the education budget proposed by newly-elected Governor Rick Scott.
The school board is proposing to cut sports and put schools on a four-day week to remedy the situation.
The board also presides over four failing schools and its plan to turn them around has been rejected by the Florida Board of Education.
It seems that not for the first time, education in Jacksonville has been in a mess. In 1964 all 15 of Duval County’s public high schools lost their accreditation.
Whereas it is all too easy to point fingers regarding the rights and wrongs of the situation, I would go as far as to say that no one is entirely blameless.
Governor Rick Scott is certainly no friend of public schools but Duval County School Board does not exactly strike me as the most efficient and well-run school board in Florida. It seems like the Jacksonville factor of incompetence has once again reared its ugly head. Out of 67 school districts in Florida, Duval County is the only one advocating getting rid of sports in schools.
What I have found most interesting is the comments by people responding to the news stories concerning this issue. They make for illuminating, and at times frightening, reading.
One woman writes:
The fix for the schools is to get the current group who are running the schools out and privatize the schools. Children are not being taught what they need to survive once they graduate (at least the ones who do graduate). The current school system from the feds all the way down to the local folks has failed miserably, and the more money that gets poured into the system, the worse it gets. If you are doing something wrong and failing, pouring more money on the problem is not going to fix it.
She goes on:
Actually, we need the federal government out of the school system totally. We need parents to take some of the responsibility for their chidren’s education and involvement. Perhaps if more parents were involved, they would have known long before now just how bad the schools are. Throwing more money at them is not the solution because we have been doing that hand over fist and things just continue to get worse. We now use the schools for so many things that are not even part of the education of these children and we use the system to propagandize children as well. We need, somehow, to get back to doing what schools were meant to do. Teach these young people math, English, science, and history (our real history and not some warped version someone made up to fit their ideology). We need to keep these kids out of religion, global warming and social issues and let their parents take care of that. If we eliminated all the things the schools aren’t charged with doing and focused on educating, we might actually educate our young people!
I wonder if her teaching of science extends to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and the fact that the Earth is a lot older than 6,000 years?
Someone else writes:
I have a huge issue with the way my taxes are spent. I am a single person that owns my home. My annual part of my county tax bill to the school system is almost 1500 per year. In addition, relative to my income, single people pay more into federal taxes than any other group. Frankly, we pay more than our fair share and some of us do not have the kids in this system that can be used as a tax write off. So, in essence parents get some of that back. I do not.
So yes, I want the elimination of the school board taxes from my propety tax bill. It is NOT my responsibility to educate your kids. That is your job! It is time those that live in apartments with kids pay up. Raise sales tax 1 cent to offset that loss of revenue if need be, whatever it takes. The state will make more money taking the burden off the property owner and raising sales tax.
And there you have the tea party mentality. Tea party members are only interested in themselves. It is like they exist on their own planet with no communal responsibility, no part to play in the betterment of society. If they do not use a publically funded service that benefits others, they do not think they have to pay for it.
Tea party members are the kind of people who know the cost of everything and the value of nothing. They are happy to decry big government over which they exert some influence by means of the democratic process but then use that process to elect politicians who pander to the needs of big business at the expense of the needs of ordinary folk. They are happy to see poverty rise and the crime rate increase because tackling those means increasing expenditure that they are not prepared to fund by increases in taxation.
When selfishness and greed outweigh compassion and consideration, I think it is safe to say that America will cease to rank among the civilized nations of the world.