The Boot to the Neck

 

Stalling is a time honored tradition of many a School Superintendent here in the State of Maine. The small rural towns of the Pine Tree state are breaking beneath the ever burgeoning burden of school budgets. This is compounded by the yearly tradition of dipping back into the nearly parched taxation well for budgetary shortfalls, which have been increasing at a rate of some $30,000 a year. As the taxpayers of these little towns compare their high mil rates and over-leveraged town budgets against the return on their confiscated funds in the quality of education for the dollar from these high priced school districts, it is no wonder that many are opting to withdraw from low performance expensive school districts and seek greener pastures for the future of their little ones.

But the head of each child, so endearing to the parent and the community in which they grow up, is a dollar sign to a school district, and these under performing districts are loathe to release these towns and lose the revenue that the children generate for their escalating budgets. No matter if the towns vote to withdraw, no matter the exercise of sovereignty, and no matter the will of the people, these phrases so rudimentary to our Republic are disdained and mocked by pompous school districts who have no fear of recourse from small towns. Through the din and cries of acrimony and hardship from districts light on education and heavy on expenditure, the voice of the small community is but a whisper if heard at all.

After the vote to withdraw, comes the negotiations. Here the stall tactics, there the arm twisting until finally a town will pay whatever ransom to be free to try and repair its fragile infrastructure from the exorbitant price tag but spare product many public school districts are offering. One lawyer observed and characterized the withdrawal negotiation tactics of school districts as legalized extortion.

Some towns have deep enough pockets to pay the ransom money, but some little towns do not. This legislative session a bill was put forward to help give voice and leverage to towns that heretofore had been non-existent. LD 1336 provided that in the event withdrawal negotiations could not be completed in 180 days, the Education Dept. would provide mediation and should the impasse continue for another 90 days even with mediation, the negotiations would then go to binding mediation. This bill would have kept school districts from stalling and dragging negotiations on for years, causing unwarranted burdens to Maine’s rural communities.

The bill passed through committee unanimous, Ought To Pass. That means it enjoyed bi-partisan support. Most observers expected it’s passage through the chambers to be a mere formality and the common sense bill would become law, a welcome relief to struggling Maine towns.

Instead, Speaker Sarah Gideon allowed LD 1336 to languish in committee until the legislative agenda was near at end with little time left. Two days ago it was brought to the floor, a single protest was lodged from the floor, and Speaker Gideon killed the bill without allowing a vote. In one fell swoop the purpose of the Republic was desecrated, the voice of the small town silenced, their hope of leverage crushed, and the boot of the under performing abusive school districts was placed firmly on the necks of rural Maine.

The big money interests of public education matter more to Speaker Gideon than correcting a wrong that has too long been ignored. The towns of Maine pay the heavy price. In this travesty, silence is not golden but a brazen glaring example of a poverty of morals multiplied by willful ignorance beholden to special interest’s money.

Round Two

 

Testimony was heard today on LD 96 in committee. From all accounts it seems as if the many who spoke in opposition to this bill may have won the day. It is important, though,that the people of Maine remain vigilant and maintain a watch on the actors and players in Augusta.

TMCV has just been made aware of another bill, LD 527, An Act To Prohibit Corporal Punishment In Schools, that is being brought before committee tomorrow. The language in this bill is so vague and broad it would apply to all forms of schools including homeschooling. This is just another thinly veiled attempt for a way that education bureaucrats can leverage their agenda and control into the private homes of Maine people.

It’s short notice. TMCV has just found out. The hearing is tomorrow at 1 pm in room 202 at the Cross Building in Augusta. Those who can should speak out against it, as I fear it is another bill that has a sinister goal to limit liberties of Maine’s sovereign citizens.

Wise In Their own Deceits

 

It is hard to know whether to express grief or anger at the impending collapse of our educational system. Perhaps the myriad of emotions that runs the gamut are each in their own space appropriate. The grief for the teacher and student trapped in a relic whose time has passed and anger for the bureaucracy whose blind ambitions have too long and yet still ignored the warning bells of a sinking behemoth pitched up in its death plunge sputtering, hissing to its depths of oblivion. The time for the salvation of public education is nearly passing the cusp into the realm of futility.

Captained by a stubborn addiction to agenda rather than the purpose of teaching, a top heavy education system teeters dangerously as if drunken by its desire for self preservation. As the passengers flee the sinking ship rowing towards a fresh new horizon of choice and freedom, the aging hulk reaches out for them as if to drag them back into the dark cold vacuum it leaves as it sinks beneath the waves. Disaster loves company.

The inevitable shift in the educational landscape is borne out of necessity here in rural Maine. Despite the protestations of Senator Collins that Betsy DeVos did not understand the needs of rural Maine for public education, it is the Senator who is completely out of touch with the changing winds in rural Maine. Blind and bound by financial ties to powerful unions, she instead gives stark example to the reasons rural Maine is rejecting public education in growing numbers and choosing instead to embark in more seaworthy vessels than sieve Collins seems bound to protect.

Despite the ruinous wreckage surrounding it, like a poverty stricken monarch the public school system is still demanding obeisance. A bill, LD 96, sponsored by Senator Nate Libby, Democrat, would require parents to “consult” with school boards before removing children to a alternative educational system or be found in truancy. In other words, the failing school system that has our once world class education standards plummeting in the eyes of the nations wants to consulted before parents are “allowed” to make choices for their own children. Both Senator Collins in Washington and Senator Libby in Augusta are completely out of touch with the people in Maine they represent.

The broad and, yes, harsh characterizations of the failing public school system are not to ignore the great work of so many good teachers who bravely work to educate our youth in this arcane system. It is to paint the over-arching picture of the necessity and reality of change. Many families, and more are coming, have found greener pastures for the education of their children outside of public schools. This is the new horizon for education in this country and in this state.

LD 96 has yet to be debated before committee. The public can go before committee or send in written testimony. I would urge so many who believe in a brighter future for our children to contact the Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs and make your voice be known. Having to consult a school board for parenting choices on your child’s future is like asking Hollywood actors for marriage advice.

Weekend at Public School

 

A comedy movie, Weekend at Bernie’s, gained popularity with moviegoers for its combination of dark situational humor and slapstick sequences. The story chronicles the unfortunate series of events of two young men who are invited to wealthy man’s home for the weekend. The two boys arrive only to find Bernie has been the victim of a mob hit. Hilarity ensues as the young duo, fearing they will blamed, spend the whole weekend dragging a corpse around trying to pretend the lifeless is indeed very alive.

American citizens, parents and students, concerned with the education of now and tomorrow, are being to treated to reenactment of this cult classic, yet the ridiculous animated contortions are strangely divested of any humor. The public school system of the United States has been a dead and rotting corpse for some time. Still, the growing outcry of those trapped in the stench of its lifeless hulk seems to fall on tin ears.

If it were not for the fact that the educational freedom of the future generations is at stake, there might possibly be some humor to wrench from today’s news. This news that Senator Collins is one of two Republican Senators who plan to oppose Betsy Devos appointment to Education Secretary, while frustrating at best for conservatives here in Maine, can be filed once again under the “Par for the Course” header of the litany betrayals of Maine conservatives. At the very least, this is the exclamation point on the inability of entrenched politicians to accept that Americans want change and choice not the status quo.

Democrats and their Republicrat allies are willing to go to any lengths to prop the corpse of public education. The almost ludicrous attempts by establishment to defend the lifeless against the vitality of new life would be comical if not for the repercussions. Why not except the truth?

Americans are tired of failed bureaucracy, but more so, they are at wits end to why our leaders continue to protect those failed institutions at the detriment of society at large. Betsy Devos may not be the perfect appointee but thankfully she is not establishment as usual. Senator should rethink what is an obvious protection of special interest and support the Nation as it moves toward the future of Education, which is choice.