Wednesday, March 02, 2005
THE ‘MILFORD TEA PARTY’ FIRES SHOT HEARD ‘ROUND THE STATE
Looky here! The Milford (Neb.) Times reported last week that the elected board of Educational Service Unit #6 voted to pay off their building loan of $276,468.21. That will save $77,943 in ESU 6, which serves about 45 school districts in Seward, York, Fillmore, Saline and parts of Lancaster Counties.
Taxes in ESU 6 will go DOWN a tick because of this decision. You don’t hear about THAT in a unit of government education every day.
As Go Big Ed reported last Oct. 28, fiscal conservative Angie Eberspacher campaigned for that board saying it was wrong to keep accumulating money in the ESU’s cash reserve fund instead of paying off the loan. Because the loan isn’t covered by the state’s spending lid on educational expenses, the incumbent thought it was just fine to keep taxing people to keep the loan on the books. That was despite the fact that the ESU had something like $2.7 million in cash reserves.
A supporter took out a full-page ad and blanketed the area with the idea that fiscal restraint would be good in ESU 6, and she won. I called it “The Midnight Ride of Angie Eberspacher.”
So now last week’s follow-through vote has to be “The Milford Tea Party.”
In an interview, Mrs. Eberspacher said, ”I am pleased the board agreed to pay off this debt. Our vote will save unnecessary taxes. I hope that as a board we can raise the bar and hold the ESU to a higher level of accountability.”
Be still, my beating heart.
She said she hopes that board’s action will be emulated by other ESU’s across the state. I’ll drink (a cup o’ Milford tea) to that.
OPS ENTERS HEAD START TAILSPIN
Don’t suppose anyone ever bothered to check what a horrible mess Head Start has made of the early childhood education system in this country. But noooo. Now the Omaha Public Schools is leaping into the morass of overspending, corruption and counter-productivity, and all of us taxpayers will bear the burden.
OPS has obtained a $6.3 million federal grant to serve 1,013 infants, toddlers and preschoolers per year, starting as soon as July 1. That comes to $6,219 per child. The previous contractor was kicked out last year in connection with allegations of overspending and money mismanagement.
Since the federal free-preschool program got started in the 1960s, more than 21 million disadvantaged kids have gone through it at a cost to taxpayers of more than $66 billion. Incredibly, though, there is little evidence that Head Start has done anything, long-term, to close the achievement gap between poor kids and those of adequate means.
In fact, Head Start kids still start kindergarten a step behind their more-advantaged peers, and fall further and further behind as schooling continues. That’s because the program undermines and attempts to replace the child’s parents, which denies the child the necessary base – a solid home life -- that’s a must for a decent education.
See Krista Kafer’s fact-packed articles on www.heritage.org, “What Congress Can Do to Get a Better Head Start” (Oct. 29, 2003) and “A Head Start for Poor Children?” (May 4, 2004).
NORTH PLATTE ITTY BITTIES FLUNK IN FIRST AT-BAT
Nebraska needs to keep its Class I country schools as a quality alternative to town schools that aren’t always up to snuff. And the state needs to ix-nay oonest-say its unfortunate foray into all-day kindergarten, which is totally counter-productive and extremely inefficient, cost-wise. And here’s evidence:
Fifty kindergartners in the North Platte Public Schools probably won’t be ready for first grade next year, according to a school board report in the www.northplattebulletin.com
The probable failures amount to 15 percent of the district’s 340 kindergartners, according to the news story. They go all day out there, not just a half-day. Kindergarten students are expected to read and write at least 25 words and to write the letter “P” at the end of their year, but principals and teachers told the school board that some children can’t even hold their pencils the right way, do not have good toilet habits, and are extremely disruptive.
You don’t suppose it’s because their little minds and bodies can’t take being away from home or free play and having to be in a controlled, structured environment all day in school? Especially when they’re not taught to read and write properly in the first place, since they aren’t getting phonics and proper handwriting instruction? So they stress out, at age 5, and literally poop their pants? Geeeeez.
Another report to the North Platte board revealed that only one in four eighth-graders takes algebra, and nearly 30 percent of that age group fails tests of state math standards, which are said to be quite basic.
Looks like somebody in North Platte needs to sit in the corner and think about this, and not come out ‘til they’re ready to manage schools and teach the 3 R’s a little better in that neck o’ the woods.
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