Thursday, August 7, 2008

Sonny Needs a "Don't List"

Governor Perdue needs a "don't list" and this goes at the top:

"Don't go to China for the Olympics when your state is facing a 1-2 billion dollar shortfall and schools systems across the state are scrambling to raise property taxes-if they can-to make ends meet in light of your most recent cuts."

And, yet, off he goes. Nero's got nothing on Sonny Perdue.

When they meet tomorrow, expect the Bibb County Board of Education to vote to raise the millage rate. They have no choice. Sonny's most recent cuts to education will cost Bibb County over 2 million dollars. And, we're the lucky ones. Some school systems, like Richmond County, are maxed out and can't raise the millage rate. One source said that some systems have hired business people to look at their budgets and answer the question: "How can we do what the law requires with the money we have available to us?" The answer? Typically, "close schools." Parents, of course, love that idea. Not.

Let's be clear. This crisis did not happen overnight. It was entirely preventable. Sure, the recent economic downturn has exacerbated the problem, but it is the Republican mismanagement of the finances of this state over the last six years, and the consistent effort to starve public education out of existence, that is to blame for this mess. And, Gov. Perdue, who with his fish fries and all has a 60+% approval rating-for doing what I can't tell you, slinks off to China instead of having the political kahunas to stay here and deal with the problem. What a COWARD. The only thing worse would've been passage of Richardson's "GREAT" plan-then school boards would've had to call for a referendum to ask for sales taxes to be raised. In the meantime, I suppose they could've given teachers IOU's.

Note to Jim Galloway: Here's a prediction for you. With school systems scrambling, and parents screaming, Sonny's going to come back from China and miraculously save the state by dipping into the reserves. He will do this because the last thing he wants to do before the November election is to call a special session. He will then put on his white hat, grab a fishing pole and hold a prayer service, hoping, probably correctly, that no one notices that he's responsible for this mess in the first place. Graduation coaches my ass. I think we would've been better off to hire governance coaches.

And, note to Erick Erickson: I know you're going for ratings on the radio, but when you, an elected official, somehow become omniscient and decide to use your airtime to declare that the Bibb school board members have their heads in the sand, think all is wonderful with our schools and that all the parents who send their kids to private school are racists-you're recklessly stereotyping other community leaders and painting an inflammatory, inaccurate picture of their position on the many, many challenges of a school system where more than 70% of the children qualify for free or reduced price lunch. No one on that board thinks things are great, and I suspect that if you had attended a few school board meetings, you'd know that. I think it's wonderful that you plan to send your child to a public elementary school. Why don't you go ahead NOW and volunteer some of your time to help make OUR public schools a better place for OUR children? There's plenty to do. By the way, did you know that when it comes to allocation of state resources for schools, Bibb is considered a high wealth county, while Houston is considered low wealth? Yes, you read that right. That means that part of the money designated for "rich" counties like Bibb is re-routed to "poor" counties like Houston. Sound a little "fishy" to you? Me, too. Oh, and the formula is based on what the tax digest "should be"-not what it is in a place like Bibb where we've not been able to get the valuation it right for the last two years, but what the state thinks it should be. So, between 1.6 billion in cuts and the bad revaluation, Bibb schools are between a rock and a hard place. I challenge you to get out your crowbar.


Dora said...

Sonny is doing what Sonny does up when people are looking and be in teh positive spotlight.
All the other times, he's figuring out how to put change in the pocket of his buddies and how to make the problems of our fiscal condition and educational condition and water condition look like someone else's responsibility/fault.
The only time he's interested in stepping up to the plate is when his is empty and it's serving time. The rest of us are left to fend for ourselves and our kids and our communities with the waste leftover when he's done.

Being seen in China is way more important and "public" than being seen at home working on something that he isn't really committed to much less know how to fix.

Bill Mauldin said...

The day all homeowners dread may have arrived. To face the looming budget shortfall, Gov. Perdue cut back education funds yet again by 2%. The rebuttal being offered is that this 2% was above last years budget anyhow, therefore education will actually be the same as the year before. Now help me with my math here. Last years budget = poor performing schools, massive student failure rate, Georgia scraping the bottom of US education statistics (and US isn't ranked to hot to begin with among other developed nations). Now; This years budget + 2% funding - 2% funding = better performance overall. I don't see the prioritizing that education is due.
What I do see, however,as a homeowner and business owner, is the fact that local governments will be faced with the prospect of making up that shortfall by raising property taxes. Not a pretty scenario for homeowners who are preparing to pay fuel costs for winter, and some of which are already struggling with mortgage payments, to be faced with a nice increase in their monthly payments because our State cannot plan ahead with budgeting. And its really not fair to the municipal and county governments who have begun implementing school budgets (which started this week for many) and now have the State saying that it won't pony up its share. These governments and officials will take the necessary steps to continue trying to improve their education, yet will face the public hostility and voter reactions as a result.
And mark my words, the words "school vouchers" will be the golden word that many will try and sell to voters as the cure all for our education ills. State Sen. Eric Johnson has publicly stated that this is the right path and if implemented will be fully funded, "no exceptions!". How can we take this for face value when the same statements were made after the majority of students in some districts couldn't pass state exams last year. "Fully funded, no exceptions!"? I take exception to that.

Tina said...

Back when I was in high school in the 1950s the schools in Macon were admired as among the best in the state. Today, to the best of my knowledge the high schools in Bibb no longer participate in the "literary events" sponsored by the Georgia High School Association, such as one-act-play, essay, debate, speaking etc. Someone please correct me if I am wrong. I would love to be corrected !
I spent six months teaching in a high school in Bibb County and it was without a doubt the scariest job I ever had and the most unfriendly professional environment. Not even a teacher handbook.