Separate, but Equal?

In a move that could have surprised only those residents who live under rocks, The Chapel Hill-Carrboro School Board voted last night against discussing a merger with the county schools. According to the Chapel Hill Herald:

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro city school board approved a resolution Thursday night that supports collaboration with the Orange County Schools instead of merger.

The resolution -- which passed unanimously -- also calls for a special district tax in the county schools, similar to the one currently paid by city school district residents. It also asks that the county school board meet with the city school board to discuss ways in which they can collaborate, and how the process should be supported financially.

Board members barely discussed the resolution, which city schools Superintendent Neil Pedersen presented at a meeting earlier this month. Instead, they talked about three proposals that the Orange County Commissioners brought forth last week.

But Orange County Commissioner Moses Carey pledged a few weeks a go to raise the merger issue when he run for re-election next year. Will the issue ever be discussed, or should we go back to cowering in fear of mobs of angry soccer moms roaming the suburban streets of northern Chapel Hill?

Issues: 

Total votes: 142

Comments

Hello,

My name is j jimbo. I did not recieve sufficienct education in Hillsborough. I work at a sewage plant. I am for the merger.If education had been better3 years ago in Hillsborough, I think my career and thus life would have been better if the merger was set in place. Please avoid another wasted life and support the merger. Let's stop noticing what happened in the past and focus on the future.

Terri,

Your approach of urging opposition to the No Child Left Behind policies, while working hard to adhere to these policies which you oppose so you can do just what the misguided policies want you to do is like opposing the war and voicing support for Bush because he is our President. When the day is done you are exactly where the powers that be wanted you to be, though you have a sense that you have taken a different position.Even though it didn't change anything.

Mark

If anyone is interested, the lead editorial in today's (12/27) Chapel Hill Herald is (sort of) about education & some of these discussions. Actually the writer (why do editorial writers hide behind the veil of anonymity and avoid responsibility for their writings?) read some of these postings, but unfortunately did not even mention the site's address or name.If he had, readers would have had the opportunity to visit here and learn that most of the broadsides in this editorial drive-by don't stand up to critical analysis.

No citing of sources, only one quote cited (in the attack on me), weak linking of argument to conclusions, mention of taxation with no facts or references to bolster the charges - I'd give it a D+ and send the writer home to contemplate the differences between schooling & education.

Mark

Mark

The article lacks in the ways you mention...I thought the same thing before reading your reaction.

HOWEVER--Your bizaar ideas about education or schooling reflect those of maybe 1% of the population. I do not see you builing any concensus on this site, so don't hurt yourself patting yourself on the back.

The CH Herald agreed to run a guest column by me responding to the editorial on 12/27 that was basically a gratuitous trashing. It is supposed to run on Monday.

After contemplating the personal nature of the attack in this editorial, I requested an apology from both the paper & the writer. The editor, Neil Offen declined to apologize stating that my response accomplished enough. I intend to pursue a personal meeting with the anonymous writer of the editorial and request an apology.

I think this is an important issue because it highlights the power of editorialists to do real damage when they get reckless & personal and calls on us to recognize some community standards. The overall question is: If this particular editorial is acceptable to the community - despite it's personal attacking style and lack of evidence to back up claims made - then how much farther over the line would an editorial have to go before an apology would be considered appropriate?

Mark

Just to report back - I personally requested an apology from Ray Gronberg, who wrote the editorial, and he refused. To his credit he did talk with me for a little while about the editorial and why he wrote it. He also listened to my critique.

I remain firm in my conviction that this editorial crossed the line and was a personal attack and the charges were made recklessly and without substantiation. Community standards of fair play were violated and I'm still owed an apology. At the very least, I hope future editorial positions focus on building credible intellectual arguments and editorialists refrain from the temptation to trash somebody from behind the curtain of anonymity when their emotion overcomes their reason.

Mark

haha

Mark, what exactly did they say about you that was so hurtful to you?

I can't really convey the scope of entire editorial, but Ray Gronberg asserted that I was opposed to the idea that "education is better than ignorance" which I know is a nonsensical statement and you could say, just shrug it off because it's such a meaningless statement. But he went on in that vein referring to posts here & in my CH News column - without actually citing what I wrote - as reason to consider my ideas dangerous to the educational process. An astounding piece of work from the standpoint, not only of fair play, but of writing quality. It was clearly a personal attack with full knowledge of the fact that education is a hot-button emotional issue and that I could be tarred more easily on this issue because of that. The editorial ran in the Dec. 27 CH Herald. If you wish, e-mail me personally and I'll send you my response (which they printed a week later).

Mark

Do you people have lives?

Mark, I have serious concerns about No Child Left Behind too, but the way the law is written the penalty to schools who don't raise the performance of each minority group (African-American, Hispanic, low income, special needs, maybe others) in equal proportions is a loss of federal funding. If Orange Co has problems because of unequal local funding, they would be in very serious problems if they loss federal funding too. So I'm guessing they hired someone to monitor "disaggregated performance data" in order to make sure they are making "adequate annual progress" throughout the year. Without AYP, they lose their funding. Then there will be an even bigger public outrage than we have now.

While the goals of NCLB are admirable--to ensure that all children, regardless of SES, ethnicity, or ability level get equal attention/resources--the timeframe and unfunded-mandate nature of the law is contributing to the loss of good, qualified teachers and administrators. All citizens, whether they are parents or teachers, should be speaking out against this law. Criticizing school administrators who are struggling to survive in this environment isn't productive IMHO.

Terri

Terri,

Mebane is a sovereign government just like the Town of Chapel Hill and the Town of Hillsborough. As such, they are free to act as they will, in many instances, regardless of the Orange County Commissioners wishes and desires. The citizens of those municipalities each elected their own Town Council to take care of their Town's business. That does not mean, however, that it would not be in each municipalities best interest to promote a good, working relationship with the Commissioners. Everyone should try to work together ... but they do not neccessarily have to. It is probably to all of our advantage if they can, however. I am sure that someone can site an example where the Chapel Hill Town Council did something the Orange County Commissioners disagreed with regarding land use.

SAPFO would have helped, but Mebane was never approached by Orange County about participating in it. The Orange County Commissioners need to strike up a dialogue with Mebane. They have just recently come to that realization now that a 500 dwelling unit subdivision is about to be approved. ;-)

Mebane can contiguously annex anything they so choose in their ETJ and can sattelite annex as well (there are state statutes which limit sattelite annexation though). I agree with the OC Commissioner that suggested it is time to contact Mebane.

pdn

Paul, Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. You've been most helpful and quite informative.

Terri

Orange County schools just hired someone whose sole job responsibility is to analyze testing data & scores and help improve the standardized test scores. It was noted that this in response to No Child Left Behind.

How does everyone feel about this? Here is an additional expense burden for a position that addresses an educationally irrelevant issue caused by a bullshit, disingenuous federal policy. This begs several questions: Why is a school system that is regarded as underfunded using money for this? Why is the No Child Left Behind program so meekly accepted by parents and teachers? Are parents in general more concerned about whether or not their child has an advantage proferred by the school system which will help him or her "succeed" (i.e. good job, etc.) than about education in the brooad sense?

And lastly, why would I feel good about having my taxes raised to pay for this?

Mark

Ok--this is OT, but yeas Terri--Mebane can do just that--as CHAPEL HILL did when they annexed a section of DURHAM county. THOSE kids go to the Durham schools. Of course, they don't pay the additional CHCCS tax.

Melanie

Maybe we should just merge the systems--then the kids from OC who need an alternative school would HAVE one--since the town of Hillsborough seems determined not to give hem space...

Melanie

So, in effect, you are saying that Mebane can take Orange Co land through annexation, utilize our schools, utilities, etc. and the county commissioners have no say in it? Even though the residents of those developments would have to pay Orange Co taxes, it still sounds a little crazy to me even without considering SAFPO. And Durham can do the same? Is this common or is this an indication of the county commissioners not yet being up to speed on dealing with developers and urban sprawl?

Terri

I hate to be dense, but does Mebane's decision to add a development in Orange Co. mean that kids living in that development will go to Orange Co schools or Mebane City Schools? Who makes that decision?

Terri

Terri,

Good question.

There are no Mebane City Schools. If you are a resident of Mebane and you live in Alamance County, your children go to Alamance County Schools. If you are a resident of Mebane and you live in Orange County, your children go to Orange County Schools.

Since Orange County Schools has higher funding than Alamance County Schools, how quickly do you think those 500 units on the Orange County side of Mebane will sell? My guess is quick.

pdn

An interesting side note regarding SAPFO and Orange County Schools.

The involved parties are Orange County, Orange County Schools, and the Town of Hillsborough. During the deliberation of the (at the time) proposed MOU last year, both myself (as a Planning Board member) and the Hillsborough Mayor, Joe Phelps, asked why the Town of Mebane and City of Durham were not invited to participate in SAPFO. Both municipalities have crossed over into Orange County and Mebane has a significant amount of their Extra Terrirtrial Jurisdiction in Orange County.

Our concerns stemmed from the possibility that Mebane or Durham could annex portions of Orange County, develop it, and "max" out Orange County's school capacity (at will and unrestricted) while Hillsborough and Orange County would be bound to the SAPFO. If Hillsborough wanted to grow, the available capacity in Orange County schools would be gone. Our concerns were trivialized by the Orange County Planning Director, Orange County Commissioners and the Hillsborough Town Board members who wanted SAPFO pushed through as quickly as possible.

Last week, Mebane's Planning Board approved a 500 dwelling unit subdivision in Orange County. The development is expected to be approved by Mebane's Town Council very soon. Because the developer is seeking annexation by Mebane, the Orange County Commissioners have no say in Mebane's decision.

At a Orange County Commissioners meeting earlier this month, a Commissioner commented something to the effect of "we probably need to talk to Mebane".

My response, "Ya think?"

pdn

Notcleartome:

Please, don't defer to me because of that. . . arguably it should be the other way around.

I think you're correct to point out that there could be some hurdles to jump in securing SAPFO for a unified sysem, not the easists of which is getting approval, again, from the various participating jurisdictions. I recall that there wasn't unanimity in all of the jurisdictions and there were some well stated objections to various SAPFO provisions that will surely rear-up again.

My idea about imposing geographic limits to the definition of available capacity was just thrown out as an illustration (and could be so complicated as to be unworkable). Nonetheless, I've been disappointed that many have used the SAPFO as a reason to oppose merger, while I believe it's largely a red-herring that distracts from the equity and quality issues that are probably more relevant to the debate. Should merger occur, I think we could work SAPFO out. I would imagine the SAPFO concerns could be addressed during the 2-5 years it would take to fully merge the systems -- until that time, the existing SAPFO might still be able to operate.

(Nothing about these comments should be read to imply I either support to oppose merger.)

Terri,

Can't resist responding - are you saying that confining kids to the same indoor facility for the work week and segregating them by age is better socialization or worse than homeschoolers who interact with kids and adults of all ages as they spend time in various areas of the community?

Mark

I hope that they accommodate him because parents should have a choice of "how" they educate their children. I disagree with Mark's earlier posts about compulsory education--but feel that as long as a child is given what loosely qualifies as a 'sufficient' education, it should be acceptable to everyone, including higher education. Socializing is separate from education (schooling) but a huge part of learning.

Terri

Interesting question and problem for the school board.

Among some in the public education establishment, there is incredible hostility toward both private schools and homeschoolers. One would think that school systems would be happy that some children go elsewhere and free up resources for the children that do attend public schools.

Given the thousands of dollars that this child frees up, I hope that they can accommodate him.

I know I said I would leave this thread, but there is one interesting event happening tomorrow night which is germane to all this.

A homeschooled boy & his mother will appear before the CH-Carrboro Board of Ed. to ask if he can play for the McDougle Middle School baseball team. Traditionally this has not been allowed, although there is no fair reason why a taxpayer's child should not be allowed to participate. Let's see if our local board rules in the child's best interest or the interests of the state in controlling the educational system.

Mark

P.S. My other favorite song is "Satisfaction".

As an elected official I certainly defer to you.

However, as you allude to a new SAPFO would have to be re-written to ensure that capacity in Efland wasn't used as capacity to bus kids across the county. My understanding, which you don't seem to disagree with is that a new SAPFO would have to be agreed to that would have some sort of geographic limitations so public facilties e.g. schools were built where they were needed to reduce long distance commuters.

It is also my understanding that not all parties were willing participants to the last SAPFO (it dragged on to get the agreement) and if the schools merged without this agreement in advance it might not happen so quickly.

Is it fair to say that current SAPFO would lose much of its intent upon merger or is that to nebulous a claim.

SAPFO was passed by both school systems, so I don't think a merger would affect it much. Maybe we can have a thread on SAPFO at an other time.

Melanie,

Well, at least wish your grandmother Happy Holidays for me. And how did you know that "Another Brick in the Wall" is one of my favorite songs?

Anyway, I enjoyed the back & forth and I'll duck out of this so you all can figure out what form the school system will take before my taxes get jacked up.

Mark

In a merger, SAPFO becomes invalid?

Does it really? Doesn't it really depend on how you characterize SAPFO? If SAPFO is a tool to stop development, then MAYBE it's invalid since there will be a sudden increase in school capacity; but if SAPFO is a mechanism to insure adequate school capacity, then it it will still work. In a unified school system future, a developer would still have to go to the school system, receive certification that the system has capacity to accomodate the children associated with the new development. You could imagine a new SAPFO that would respect geography such that "adequate capacity" is measured by the capacity available in the schools within a certain radius of the new development.

Could someone explain SAPFO to me?

Terri

my understanding is that the Schools Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance - is supposed to tie new development to school capacity.

So when any school exceedes a certain capacity in Town new development is slowed/stopped.

The flip side is that it is supposed to direct the commissioners to fund new schools so that capacity is not exceeded.

Perhaps an elected official can answer Terri better.

So you see why developers would be VERY PRO MERGER and in fact they fought this ordinance tooth and nail.

In a merger SAPFO becomes invalid.

That is why equalizing funding is better than merging.

This problem is not unrelated to other problems in our society. The corporate economy works best the more of us that are stuck in adolescence.I happen to have faith in the innate ability of people to make the right decision when unencumbered by burdensome economic obligations and governmental regulations. Not every school does what is in the best interests of someone else's child. Most people spend more time choosing a contractor than a teacher for their child.

As to the slavery question - I don't know, it's irrelevant - the point is that there is ample evidence that literacy is not predicated on compulsory schooling.

We can't put a boot on a family's neck, make them work shit jobs, feed them news of Ben Affleck & J-Lo, deny them health care and then say since they are incapable of home-schooling their children we are going to take theuir kids & put them in compulsory state schools and call that benevolence.

Mark

(Throws hands in air) I am certain my granmother would have agreed with you, Mark. Formal education is for stooges, we are all capitalist drones. You win.

Melanie

Back to the actual TOPIC AT HAND...does anyone have anything to say about the idea that this whole merger business is being pushed by developers? As Deep Throat once said..."Follow the money..." Merger would also TOTALLY de-fang the SAPFO...

Melanie

Mark--point made. Your point would be "We don't need no education, we don't need no thought control, and don't raise my taxes." I hesitate to reply to Mark's literacy info--as it would seem that his views on compulsory education are OT--but here goes:

Mark, how many slaves were listed as people, not property,in the 1840 Conn census? How many literate slaves do you think there were in, oh, GEORGIA? How would you suggest parents homeschool children if they don't feel competent to do so? Or DISINCLINED to do so? My grandmother was forced to leave school at the end of 8th grade so she could work on my great-grandfather's farm. It was something she regretted to her dying day. She was brilliant, but KY law only FORCED parents to see that their kids went through the 8th grade at the time she was a child. TODAY she would have been able to continue her schooling...and she was brilliant.

Not every parent does what is in the best interests of their child. At least, with compulsory schooling, the kid has a fighting chance.

Melanie

Give us school vouchers, and the playing field becomes level.

Two things: Melanie, if you reread what I posted about taxes you will realize that I have little in common with the "schools are just fine, thank you, and we don't want to pay anymore" crowd.

As to Justice Warren's high-minded defense of compulsory state-schooling, look what all that schooling has done to critical thinking in this country? An educational system as described by Warren would have resulted in a nation of critical thinkres who would have rejected the faux patriotism, the misguided nationalism, and the tapestry of lies that we suffer under. Clearly our system of government schooling has failed to teach citizenship or we wouldn't be in the fix we are in. The corporations and business interests that created & shaped the school system do not want children thinking for themselves to their true potential. It would wreak havoc with their domination of society.

Mark

More specific literacy info:

Conn. census of 1840 reported that 1 in 579 was illiterate. There is other data, but the main point is if it can happen somewhere it can happen anywhere. Homeschoolers prove there's no need for state-run compulsory schools for purposes of education.

Mark

Jay, that would be a valid argument--IF ALL THE TEACHERS WERE REQUIRED TO LIVE IN THE CITY LIMITS. (sorry about the shouting--but it won't let me do italics.) They aren't, and I know several teachers who live out in either Chatham, Orange, or Durham Counties. Their kids all go to the city schools--though I think they have to pony up the difference in per/pupil taxes...not certrain about that. I DO know it's considered one of the perks the city school teachers receive.

As to not focusing on the difference in money--isn't that what it comes down to? ULTIMATELY? I've been paying SUBSTANTIALY higher taxes for 20 years--because I was willing to. It may be a sterotype--but I actually heard a farmer form OC say "If the schools werre good enough for my grandparents, they're good enough for my KIDS," the last time this subject was broached. (1985? '86? YEARS ago, regardless.) And I know a number of "County Families" who don't want the systems merged because they "know" the majority of the county's population is down in CH--and they don't wnat "THOSE PEOPLE" running "THEIR schools." Unfortunately, I think that is the image that most people in CH have. That the county is full of people who think their schools are just fine, thank you, and we don't want to pay anymore. (Mark?) While the city people think--"Well, we DO." I feel sorry for the kids--they are stuck in the middle of a bunch of grown-ups who aren't behaving in a very adult manner.

The only way this will EVER be resolved is by CAVEAT. Either the county commisioners will MANDATE cooperation--or the state will finally step in.

Just MHO!

Melanie

To continue the slightly off-topic but not irrelevant discussion of compulsory education: John Taylor Gatto has legitimate complaints about the nature of public schooling today--it's well known that the schedule most of us enjoyed in high school owes a lot to Henry Ford's assembly line, to cite just one problem--but he goes too far when he proposes to ditch the whole idea of publicly supported, compulsory education.

In this season of the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, it is good to read the opinion again. In a carefully crafted opinion written to speak directly to the nation (designed so that it could fit on the front page of the NY Times), Chief Justice Warren said the following:

"Today, education is perhaps the most important function of state and local governments. Compulsory school attendance laws and the great expenditures for education both demonstrate our recognition of the importance of education to our democratic society. It is required in the performance of our most basic public responsibilities, even service in the armed forces. It is the very foundation of good citizenship. Today it is a principal instrument in awakening the child to cultural values, in preparing him for later professional training, and in helping him to adjust normally to his environment. In these days, it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education. Such an opportunity, where the state has undertaken to provide it, is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms."

http://www.nationalcenter.org/brown.html

Surely we have not strayed so far from these ideals that we have to give up on the whole enterprise!

The cost of living is substantially higher in Chapel Hill than in the County.

One could logically and economically argue that workers (including teachers, Janitors etc...) should be paid more in town than county because if nothing else housing is more.

The average janitor salary in New York City is 32,000$.

http://www.union-network.org/uniproperty.nsf/0/0c9d4df6ef8a2823c1256d1100200f6c?OpenDocument

Looking strictly and money is a mistake.

Melanie, you got arguments pretty much right. The basic issue is that OCS kids don' t have as many 'extra' academic opportunities as CHCCS kids. However, as you noted they have vocational opportunities that the CHCCS kids don't have. Teachers in OCS are paid less and there is less money for supplements, giving the impression that OCS can't attract the same top-level teachers that CHCCS hires. Since the CHCCS per child funding is a little more than $1,000 higher than OCS per child funding, the perception is that OCS kids are losing opportunity. If the funding was equal, perhaps OCS would be perceived as better than CHCCS. It's entirely possible that some CHCCS kids would like to have the vocational opportunities offered by OCS, but given the lack of collaboration between the systems, indeed the failure to even try to collaborate, it looks like the kids in both systems must make do with what's currently available to them.

It's quite unfortunate that the entire debate has focused on property tax rates. The heart of the issue is equity--but I'm not sure how we define educational equity in our county, given our many advantages, is a well understood concept.

Terri

Mark Marcoplos, please back up your claim that literacy rates were higher before compulsory education. I have looked at lots of old census records, wills and deeds (about 1800 to 1850) and it is apparent that even among white males it was common to be unable to write one's own name. further there were laws in some locations forbidding the teaching of literacy to blacks.

-Mark Chilton

yes, I'd like to see that as well--though I will admit that the people who knew HOW to write certainly wrote better than most people today--have you ever read any of the "Letters Home" from the Civil War? AMAZINGLY well written...

Melanie

For info on literacy rates and a mindblowing look at American history read "The Underground History of American Education" by John Taylor Gatto. He's got a web-site too.

Mark

OK--I'll do my best. Here are the basic differences--as laid out by a city school parent. (with friends in the county schools as well!)

OCS have less money than CHCCS. We can debate for forever why this is so, and whose fault it is, but that is the bottom line. It is my understanding that their teachers are paid less, and they get less in the form of retention bonuses. (PLEASE feel free to correct me if I have ANY of this wrong--I'm doing it from memory and don't have time to go research it.) Their average scores are lower on the EOG's and SAT's--but I DON'T think that is true if you norm for parental eduacation level.

CHCCS offer more in the way of advanced courses, AP's particularly, and offer more languages. CHCCS offer foreign language at the elementary level, OCS only offer it in one school...and only one language (Spanish). CHCCS offer either French or SPanish--depending on which elementary school your child attends. (FWIW--I've NOT been all that impressed witht he elementary offering...)

OCS may have fewer AP's--but have more in the way of Voc Ed. (Shop, an incredible woodworking program--plumbing I beleieve?) OCS has fewer requirements for graduation. (A plus, in my opinion. I think the requirements at the CHCCS keep kids from pursuing non-academic interests--like art, furniture making, photography, etc.)

OCS is less intense on an academic level--CHCCS are RIDICULOUSLY intense. My oder kid graduate with OVER a 4.00 and was barely in the top 20% of his class. I refused to let him take a bajillion AP's--but that would be another topic!

I believe the city schools have an easier time RETAINING teachers--but again, I may be mis-remebering.

There is a PERCEPTION that OCS are "lesser." Certainly, we were fairly sure that given who WE were, our kids would need the offerings of the CHCCS. We were correct. If, however, we had been mistaken we might have moved. Honestly, in a perfect world kids could go to the HS that would suit them best.

Here is my take on the whole thing. HISTORICALLY if you were college educated, and wanted a college prep HS for your kids, or thought they were "gifted" (DON'T get me started!)you tended to buy a home in CH if you could. If, however, you were blue collar, or a farmer, you lived out in the county. PLEASE don't think this is a slam on people who went to trade school. I would be THRILLED if one of my kids decided to become a plumbre or, better yet, an electrician. (I've FOUND a plumber I trust!) ;-)

OK--I'm sorry I don't have facts and figures...maybe someone who DOESN'T have a dozen loaves of pumpkin bread to make could dig that stuff up?

Cheers!

Melanie

Mark, I understand your concerns about the underlying foundations of education in America. (I have similar concerns about the automotive industry.) I think you should check out either Generations or The Fourth Turning by Bill Strauss and Neil Howe. Those books outline generational theory, which states that during a First Turning (a "societal high"), institutions will be built up that will survive for the rest of the generational cycle. The current educational system was put in place during the last First Turning (late 40's-early 50's), and it will stay in tact for the next couple of decades most likely. We are about to enter, if we haven't already, the Fourth Turning (or "crisis"), and in about 20 years, the things you are talking about will be talked about. As for a society about to head into a crisis cycle, I doubt our military will be any less funded.

Nevertheless, until the next First Turning, the topic at hand is school merger. Some of the discussion yesterday intrigued me. (I have to say I don't know enough about this, nor am I espousing any views, so I'll ask lots of questions.) It does seem to me that everyone who comes to this area has the option of living in the city limits, with a smaller house and smaller lot, or living in the county, with a larger house and a larger lot. The biggest trade-off of course is the school system.

This seems like a choice that everyone makes when they move here, correct? If everyone has already chosen what to buy, it seems like there is something wrong with changing the product. Still, I don't think an economics analogy captures what this is about--children...little people...monsters.

Could someone offer some real analysis on merger so that those of us who don't understand (and want to) can form an opinion?

So what you are saying, Mark, is that public schooling isn't a "good community effort?" I'm just trying to understand...

Melanie

I am less than ambivalent about state-sponsored compulsory schooling and yet I am not naive enough to believe that the system can be done away with overnight and needs some funding now. My ideal solution would be that we would agree that the current system impinges on people's freedoms and doesn't do the best job preparing kids to meet their full potential as individuals and contributing citizens and begin to plan to dismantle the school system and integrate education into daily life to end institutional incarceration of kids in age & "perceived ability" segregated groups. We would then come up with a transition plan. (Of course this involves everything our society is built around - 2 parents working, keeping kids out of the job market, the shaping of consumer mentality, herd training for better control of the masses, etc.). I'm willing to fund an educational approach that is good for everyone. But I want to see us use the obscene amounts of money now flowing to the military death machine for these things. I want my taxes to support positive change, in the same spirit that I send money to organizations doing good work.

Mark

On the tax issue, I'd just like to make it clear that I feel oobliged to pay taxes to support good community efforts. I welcome it even. The problem is that we are all taxed too much already and most of those taxes flow circuitously to corporate coffers. The reaction on the local level is not to cry foul and get some of that money back from the obscene military budget or the crooked highway funds, but to squeeze us ever tighter with local taxes. This is enabling behavior and contributes to the overall political sickness in our society.

Mark

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