"[I]f I had to live my life again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week…The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature." --Charles Darwin

Sunday, February 21, 2010

News flash: People are willing to pay higher taxes for better schools and teachers

The things that "everyone knows" are usually utterly ridiculous nonsense that someone with an agenda is trying to cram down your throat. For example, "everyone knows" that the public option in health care is unpopular. Except that between 51 and 76 percent of the population supports it (depending on how it is defined), which used to be a majority when I had math.

"Everyone knows" that a big reason for New Jersey's budget problems is overspending on schools, especially those overpaid and over-pensioned teachers. "Everybody" wants to make sure that teachers share the pain over budget cuts. (Like fewer, older books, crumbling school buildings and increased classes sizes aren't pain enough.) "Everybody" is sick and tired of paying teachers more than they're worth for working from 8 to 2:30 every day. (Then, of course, going home and lazing around.)

Except that in Nevada, where schools are mediocre and the teacher's union is much less effectual than the NJEA, teachers have a 77 percent approval rating from voters, who oppose cutting teacher pay by 83 percent. In fact, 65 percent percent prefer raising corporate taxes to cutting teacher pay in order to make up the budget gap. I hope this will encourage the NJEA to commission a similar study and shut down Mr. Christie's attacks.

New Jersey has real financial problems. But grown-ups know how to look for the real causes of problems and find real solutions, instead of running around making up scapegoats; and in turn punishing the children for the failures of those so-called grown-ups.

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