Today I am taking a little break from my tie a day blogging to support the Blog for Educational Technology campaign that ISTE is promoting. Focusing on the national funding for educational technology was the goal of this blogging campaign, but I would like to discuss my local educational funding.
Living in Virginia Beach, VA, my family and I have benefited from a great educational system. My wife and I are teachers here and our children attend schools at the beach. We have all been very happy, until recently.
The economy has changed things for everyone, including those of us who live in Virginia Beach. Budgets are tighter and luxuries, such as a cost of living raise, have disappeared over the last couple of years, and it doesn’t seem like it will ever return. But still, we have it much better than other places in our state and the rest of the country, and for that I am thankful. However, that doesn’t mean I am completely happy.
The City Council for Virginia Beach approved the budget for 2010-11 yesterday, which takes away $8.8 million from schools to fund a new animal shelter and recreation center. While those other things are nice, aren’t children’s educations worth more? We have wonderful recreation centers in Virginia Beach, do we need another? An animal shelter? I am not sure we need that at all. Of course, I am biased and I freely admit that, the same way a rec center user and animal lover without children would support the other side of the argument.
The money would have been used to update existing schools, pay for equipment, and any number of things that a school system with 81 schools in it would need. Suddenly, money that was planned for operating the school system is gone, and we don’t know how that loss will change things. On a personal level, it is very upsetting because it will effect my wife's job, my job, and our children's education.
My question is, what can I do about it? Unfortunately, the answer seems to be nothing. When teachers and parents showed up at the City Council meeting last night to protest the budget, it still passed and they took the school’s money away.
I can stomp my foot and tell everyone I know about how unfair this is, but really I only have one choice in a modern democracy; vote for someone else in the next election. Oddly enough, since it is an even numbered year I will get to voice my displeasure soon and vote against every sitting member of the current City Council. Any Republican, Democrat, or farm animal who runs against a council member has a chance for my vote. It is time to clean house, and the one thing a politician understands is a vote.
I must say that the Virginia Beach School Board did say that they "deeply regret" the City Council's decision to tap the school's reserves and move away from lump- sum funding. Is it me, or does that statement seem to lack any strength? I don’t think the School Board has any power to fight City Council, but guess what? Their elections seem to be coming up as well, and as a voter I can choose to show how disappointed I am in them for lacking a backbone.
So, to all Virginia Beach City Council Members, and School Board Members, I am sorry, but I am very unhappy with your recent job performance. As a voter in Virginia Beach, I am saying that I would like to allow you to explore other employment opportunities that are available to you. Your services are no longer needed here, but thank you for your time. I look forward to seeing you succeed in your future endeavors.
In other words, you’re fired!