The Edwards Agency

Opinion

Decreased school budget might cut out the frivolous

school budgets Before me are two clippings from the Wall Street Journal. One, dated July 17, 1996, is entitled "Why the Catholic model is taboo."
   The first part of the article refers to a study by the Rand Corp. that compared the performance of children from New York's public and Catholic high schools. The results show that the public schools' achievements were dismal compared to those of the Catholic schools. The author of the article, Sol Stern, attributes the "... resolutely uninterested in Catholic school success" to fierce opposition of the teachers unions and a secular discomfort with religious institutions. One of the points raised is that "politically controlled schools are unlikely to improve without strong pressures from the outside" and that aid to Catholic schools would provide that pressure.
   The second article is from the front page of the Wall Street Journal, dated Sept. 10, 1996, and is titled "Teachers unions hampers student achievement, a new study argues." Briefly, the high school dropout rates were analyzed in over 10,000 school districts before and after unionization between 1970 and 1980 and discovered that districts had higher dropout rates after unionization. Again to quote: "The study may help to solve the mystery of why increasing school spending has no effect on student achievement ..." Of course, the National Education Association says "hogwash."
   An article entitled "Notes from Hell" (Sept. 30, 1996 National Review) by Daniel Kaufman, who teaches at City University of New York, should be required reading. Mr. Kaufman states, "The parochial schools succeed: an environment of discipline and respect, and the use of traditional curricula." His "A" grades went to graduates of parochial high schools.
   As to my own observations and opinion, are we talking about education or money and politics? A cruel irony: A few years ago, during a teachers strike down the main street in Woodinville, a little tyke paraded a sign nearly as tall as he reading "My teacher is worth a million dollars:" not very subtle child abuse.
   Prior to retirement, I had the occasion to visit numerous school districts. I did learn that money is deliberately thrown away to secure "more and larger." At least some school custodians take a perverse joy in showing off recently purchased and stored useless equipment (our state law encourages such deceits). My experiences were of some years ago. I cannot testify as to present practice.
   Give it some thought. It would be a "kick in the head" if people who consistently vote for increasing school money are actually doing their children a disservice--a decreased budget might cut out the frivolous.

Sigmund Geisendorfer, Woodinville