Never Let a Crisis Pass Unused

Every time there’s a budget problem the weasels come out of the woodwork, each with a plan to gut a program they never thought should be funded in the first place. That’s how, step by step, we’ve gotten to the point where the arts in the public schools, not to mention physical education, has largely been eliminated.

You’ll never hear a top administrator say, “Wait. Drawing and music is too important to loose. All of us in the top 25% of the district salary range will take a pay cut for the next two years.” The current crisis is no exception. At least one Representative, though, David R. Obey, is going against the grain.

Obey wants to use almost a billion dollars to prevent what many feel might grow into massive teacher layoffs in the next fiscal year (Lawmaker wants to shift some ‘Race to the Top’ funds to prevent teacher layoffs). “When a ship is sinking,” Obey says with rare common sense, “you don’t worry about redesigning a room.”

Obey has yet to be successful; in part becuase his idea might delay the “Race to the Top” program designed to re-tool “No Child Left Behind.” Who wants large scale lay offs in the public schools? Perhaps a demoralized union would accept some of the uglier changes, like merit pay, proposed in the so-called reforms…

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol]

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