Friday, October 19, 2007

Submitted by: matineeidol

Take a look at this video. This “You Paid for It” segment talks about the $229,000 taxpayers spent as of Jan ’07 on—wait for it—BlackBerries for 85 high-up school officials. I don’t have a BlackBerry. In fact, the only people I can think of who get a free PDA are ladies and gents from engorged, publicly-traded corporations like citiGroup.

That’s not all. KSDK shows school board members putting vacations on their expense accounts, not to mention countless instances of personal lawsuits.

As the saying goes, with friends like that…who needs a $4.6 million lawsuit against taxpayers? I may be cynical, but I usually believe that where corruption is visible, there is likely more below the surface. I wonder how much money would find its way to salaries for great teachers, the best textbooks and science class materials. I wonder how rich St. Louis Public School students’ experience would have been if board members had gotten the Samsung that comes free with your plan, and only used it for work.

For many kids, education is touch and go; one class or exercise or project can spark their interest. For my brother, it was a cooking class. I believe being able to find joy in a culinary arts program kept him in school and doing well. And that one class or teacher can be the difference between a drop-out and a college-bound graduate. So when I see waste from the school district, I also see waste of human potential.

That’s why this lawsuit against the state is so appalling. It asks Missourians to foot the bill for not only the legal fees (both sides), but also a huge expansion of the budget that has no accountability attached to it. Before this lawsuit even began, everyone should have been culling through their district budget and cutting out wasteful spending to see if the budget on hand (based on successful schools) is enough to adequately educate our kids.

And for all those reactionaries who say “but you can’t run our schools like a business,” newsflash: we already are.

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