Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Strike Another Match

I had a pair of jeans back when dinosaurs roamed the earth which mom kept patching and stitching. After a while, neither of us could remember what were jeans and what were patches. I would have never thrown them away, they were my favorites, and she would have never stopped trying to patch them. 

But at some point in time, they were gone with the wind.  Did they jump or were they pushed?  The adult of 64 I am now looks at the child who was eleven and asks ‘why does it matter?’ Bygone days and old ways.

I don’t miss those jeans and certainly wouldn’t fit into them if I still had them but was thinking about them nevertheless while reading of the Norwich Board of Education’s struggles to teach our children (and I define our children as the ones who live in our houses, as well as the ones who don’t) as the dollars to so do, dwindle down or disappear entirely.

Between the 2% increase, the City Manager proposed in his overall budget and comments to the City Council heard at public hearings, one certainty in the next education budget is it will not be the amount the Board of Education endorsed as their Superintendent’s original request.

Add to the (fewer) number of city dollars the very real prospect that even less state funding not just in education grants but even for state mandates, will be a result of whatever budget the state legislature adopts in special session and we looking not at trouble but calamity. But I fear we’ll look for stop-gap scapegoats instead of long-term solutions.  

I’m wondering if voters who conducted a wholesale swap-out of Board members last November and placed ‘the other party’ in the majority are unhappily surprised at how ‘expensive’ public education in Norwich remains. If you thought education was expensive before, try calculating the cost of ignorance.

Look around you and, regardless of your age, marvel at how different our lives are now from how we ourselves grew up in an age of miracles and wonders. But marvel should turn to menace when you look at our public sector and how it provides goods and services. The difference between a rut and a grave is the depth of the habit, and we're already shoulder deep.

Eisenhower is not President, we don't have rotary phones and our society has fundamentally and profoundly changed from that of our parents and their parents' before them. If we want different results we are going to have to do different things and do things differently.

Every aspect of how we deliver education and the services which support education must be examined for efficiencies and efficacies. The history of how we have always done things has become a hindrance to how we must learn to do things better now. We can cry about the tyranny of change or mourn lost tradition but we need to embrace what's new and what's next before we become the past.
- bill kenny    

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