Thursday, September 25, 2008

Memphis Schools and the Washington Monument

One of the most common ploys by any government agency facing budget cuts is to threaten to cut their most popular or valuable service. This is generally referred to as the Washington monument ploy because the National Park Service, when threatened with budget cuts, will always say, "well OK but the first thing we will have to cut is the operating hours of the Washington Monument." Government departments NEVER respond to budget pressures by actually making a bona fide effort to reduce low priority expenses, their response is really always about self-preservation of ALL their spending. That's why an across the board cut of all departments is the only real politically viable option and that is not possible in most years so spending, good and bad, ratchets up year after year.

School systems have mastered the art of the Washington Monument ploy to perfection. They will almost always threaten to cut front line teachers (also, something related to school bus safety is a good one emotional bomb to throw) and then when the budget battle dust clears, somehow the front line teachers survive and in fact grow.

What is it? Here's what I'm left to conclude: the school system is so run amok that no one can give Dr. Cash valid information in order for him to really reform it.

I'm just sayin, are we to believe that MCS didn't know about more than 300 unfilled positions before Cash announced those teacher cuts? That's just like MCS having 115,000 students on its rolls in recent years, right?

Go on, Chicken Little.

At this point, if MCS is on pace to be bankrupt next year, then count me among those who want to see the sky fall just so we can decipher what's really the truth.