Saturday, December 10, 2005


Bloated Bureaucracies

In response to our post "All School Districts Left Behind," an RSR visitor writes, "many people don't want their taxes to support bloated bureaucracies, teachers unions, failed schools, declining productivity, government schools, and all the nonsense that passes for education today."

But, is this comment any more reality-based than the notion that intelligent design is science and science is religious dogma?

Here in Kansas, Parents and administrators in the Salina and Dodge City school districts sued over school funding. They argued the state provides too little money to its schools and distributes the money unfairly, hurting poor and minority students.

A state financed study of Kansas school financing supported the parent's view.

Last January, the Kansas Supreme Court agreed, ruling that legislators have failed to fulfill their constitutional duty to fund Kansas schools. The court ordered changes in the school finance formula.

The facts show, the schools are not bloated, as our visitor asserts, but underfunded.

The notion of a bloated bureaucracy was fashionable in right-wing circles not that long ago. Today, that idea is bumping up against a steady accumulation of rather inconvenient facts.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, for example, planned to "right-size" our nation's military -- he was going to cut the fat. As the country invaded Iraq, one of Rumsfeld's generals warned that the job would take far more troops -- perhaps twice as many -- as Rumsfeld and the administration were willing to commit. The general was fired. The invasion was on.

The result? Well, the result is plain for everyone to see.

Likewise FEMA was said, by its Bush-appointed head, to be an entitlement that need to be trimmed. Many of its functions needed to be trimmed in order to eliminate bureaucracy. Business methods -- through the magic of privatization were to be introduced.

Again, the results, for those willing to look at them, was plain to see.

For those who believe that our progress in Iraq and FEMA rescue operations in New Orleans in the wake of Katrina represent the way forward, charter schools and vouchers will be an attractive idea.

For those of us who are appalled by the failures of these operations, the needless waste of resources, and the corruption that comes with them. Support for the tried but true of public education will seem the only reality-based option.


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