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Discount Schools

About a month ago, our superintendent presented next year’s budget to the school board. Consistent with the current economic times, it was not exactly happy news.

His proposal is full of small cuts to programs, supplies and services and, of course, no one around here is getting a pay increase.

But the line item that produces the largest single reduction is the one that increases class sizes. Right now the plan adds .5 student per classroom but everyone expects that will be higher when the final accounting is done.

That may not sound like much, but in an overly-large school district, a small change like that decreases the need for hundreds of people, which, of course, is the largest expense for a business like education.

However, the real problem next school year won’t be that teachers will have more students in their classrooms or that they will have less support.

The biggest problem will be that our administrators, parents, and community will expect nothing to change.

Teachers will still be expected to give the same numbers of assignments and tests, and then grade them all in the same time frame as before, while giving each student the same amount of individual attention as before.

Actually, since No Child Left Behind continues it’s relentless march, the expectation will be that test scores will improve and that schools will cross an even higher AYP threshold on the way to 100% in 2014.

So, people will expect to get more while paying less, which sounds pretty much like the basic philosophy of American society in the 21st century.

Give me lower-than-low prices but I still want high quality products like toys with no lead paint or peanut butter free of salmonella.

Chop the price of that $499 50″ TV but still offer free tech support catering to people too dumb to read manuals.

Cut taxes and get rid of all that nasty government spending, but don’t you dare touch any program that provides my family with a service I need/deserve/want.

Somewhere along the line, if we keep rolling back prices, we’ll find ourselves living in the aisles of Walmart.


  1. Mark

    The scary part is that I believe 3-5 years from now we will look back on 2008 as “the good old days.” The things you’re describing are likely just the tip of the iceberg as to what is to come…

  2. Louise Maine

    And the sad thing is, technology should be causing us to teach differently. Most don’t also see that assessment needs to change. Large classes with formative assessment will be difficult to achieve. Poor assessment methods will be used more often and technology/21st century skills/NCLB will not increase learning. This is a sad trend that I think many other districts will emulate.

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