Monday, February 03, 2003


It's a fairly popular ploy, these days: educators say they need more money or kids will be shortchanged out of a decent education. It's pretty hard for other units of government to compete with that threat, much less taxpayers with a mind toward holding the line on government spending.

But then there are quiet voices of reason crying out in the wilderness. The most influential ones are likely to be the local newspapers. So parents and taxpayers who want quality education for kids without taxing everybody out of their homes might study what the North Platte (Neb.) Telegraph said, and urge your local newspaper to say something similar.

In a Jan. 22 editorial, that western Nebraska newspaper quietly and understatedly pointed out that state tax funds allocated to K-12 public schools in the Cornhusker State grew 4.8 times faster than the rate of inflation over the past 30 years. That's nearly 500 percent faster. Meanwhile, senior citizens are expected to be happy with inflationary increases and not a penny more. Certainly nothing like 500 percent more than inflation's toll.

That's probably fairly similar to what has been happening in other states.

So when schools come crying to legislatures and taxpayers saying that they are terribly and unfairly underfunded and kids are going to suffer, find out what has happened with school spending over the last few decades in your state. Then compare those numbers to the rate of inflation. A call to the school finance bureau of your state department of education, or perhaps the research office of your state legislature, should produce the necessary figures.

With statistics like that to back taxpayers up, when the schools come calling for more money, the answer can be quiet, clear, understated and emphatic: "N-O."

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