Unfortunately, the local public school board is typically not one of those places.
As the federal government goes deficit-crazy and state governments continue to feel the recession’s impact, some good things are actually starting to develop. Fiscally conservative ideals are emerging in states as diverse as Wisconsin , Idaho , New Jersey and Ohio .
In these states and in others, governors and legislatures have stood-up to the ever-expanding demands of government employee unions, reigned-in employee compensation growth, and have cut state spending. Even in liberal Massachusetts the Democrat-led House of Representatives voted last week to limit the powers of their state government employees’ unions.
This is good news for the American taxpayer, and good news for the overall U.S. economy. But when state governments start to spend fewer tax dollars, that often means fewer state tax dollars are flowing to local public school districts. And when that happens, the affairs of local public school districts can get especially outrageous.
Your local school district may be the exception, and its collective behavior may be entirely “above the board.” But the sad reality for teachers, students, and parents, is simply this: in the face of tight budgets, most local school boards across the nation would rather fire teachers, than reign-in other school district expenses. The reason for this is simple: when teachers lose their jobs, students suffer – and “student suffering” gets parents and other voters in the mood for a tax increase.
It sounds cynical, I know. But think about it from the vantage point of political strategy. if school boards actually tried to manage the taxpayers’ money in such a way as to serve the students, first and foremost, then every effort would be made to retain good teachers and keep class sizes small. This would mean that school boards would look “up the food chain” in to the administrative ranks, rather than “down to the classrooms,” when the need arose to cut the budget.
But that’s generally not what happens in most public school districts. The preference for board members is usually to eliminate teacher positions, or at least to “threaten to eliminate” teacher positions – because when budget cuts are felt in the classroom, voters become more amenable to tax hikes – and tax hikes usually provide more money for the school district to spend.
Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.