Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The fight for education

The Tea Party has started focusing more and more on their respective local issues, primarily concerning taxes and education. In many states all across the nation, the battle is on to balance school budgets, elect school board members, and keep costs under control.

The signature Tea Party mantra of "no compromise, no matter what" is going strong in these debates, and its adherents continue to disregard common sense, bipartisanship, and plain old manners. For example, a school board in Florida reached an agreement with teachers to provide a raise of 1.5%, the cost of which was offset by concessions made by the unions. Tea Partiers argued about the raise, and eventually got the measure defeated, meaning teachers wouldn't receive a raise in the coming year, despite inflation, increased costs, and lower budgets for classrooms.

And this is a debate going on all over the place. In some places, the Tea Party has no resistance and are slashing funding of public schools, leaving large classes in unfurnished rooms with teachers receiving less pay and fewer benefits. In other places, there are those who are standing up for the long-term benefits of a good education and bringing the fight to the uncompromising conservatives in the Tea Party.

With the need-it-now mentality and the apparent disregard for long-term consequences, I worry about the places that have strong Tea Party influence calling the shots. Maybe this new fiscal conservatism is a good thing that will bring about a new age in American education. Or, maybe it will destroy our very way of life. Time will tell, but hopefully before it's too late.

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