Addiction to flawed systems outside of Washington

 Sam Smith

A day after I wrote about Obama’s hat trick of failures – Obamacare, NSA and Common Core – I went to vote in my Maine town of 7,000 on, among other things, a couple of bond issues affecting our school system.

It was the second time this year we had to vote on the matter. Because of the anger over the defeat of the first vote, the original issue had been divided in two – general expansion of school facilities and a proposed new track and field. The first one won narrowly this week and the second was defeated. Our town supported both, the other two villages opposed both.

Which wouldn’t be all that surprising were it not for the fact that the winning bond may never be activated because in December we have to go back to the polls to decide whether we want to stay in a “regional school unit” with two adjoining towns. If the answer is no, then the expansion will be dead because there will be less students.

If I have you a bit confused, join the club.

Regional school units were created in 2008 by the administration of a Democratic state government under Governor Baldacci. The deal was you either went along or you lost a lot of state money. Like the Obama administration, the Maine government thought it knew what was best for the schools. And if you didn’t agree, you paid a penalty.

But at the local level, the math didn’t always work out right. As Wikipedia reports, the town of Brewer “faced an annual loss of $244,000 in state subsidies for rejecting the consolidation plan, but potentially a loss of $2.74 million in increased salaries over the first 3 years if it had been approved.”

Still, 74 RSU plans were approved including in my town, which thus became the high school host for the other two villages. These villages, with more poverty than our town, did not like the new track or even an expansion that was truly necessary because of the students they had added.

As with Obamacare and Common Core, such issues were not considered in the master plan.

Governor Baldacci is long gone and come December I’ve got to figure out how to vote on this mess. And just this week five other towns voted to pull out of their RSUs.

Another collapse of abstract systems we were told would save our specific butts.

The problem with such systems is that they are a paper versions of reality that ignore various varieties of the latter until it’s too late. They tend to ignore true economics, variations in culture, local politics and anything that can’t be measured.

Which is why things like history, civics, music – just to name a few – are disappearing from the public school system. No corporation has come up with a standardized test for them.

I actually saw this coming a long time ago. Before they had RSUs, they created School Administrative Districts. I would watch school buses go by with signs on them like “SAD 25” and ask myself, what decent teacher would want their kids riding on a bus labeled “SAD.”

And now it really is sad.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.