(SP)LOST?

Next week my county, as well as many others in the state, will be voting on renewal or discontinuation of the one penny SPLOST (Special-Purpose Local-Option Sales Tax) taxation that funds building new facilities, enhancing technology, and special projects in our school system. For the first time since its inception almost two decades ago, the one cent sales tax is in danger of being revoked.

There is more than an undercurrent of resentment from community members about taxation in general and the newest target is aimed at the educational SPLOST. If you’re in education, then you understand that their is a growing tide of resentment towards teaching as profession and this malice is reaching a head with what could be a detrimental vote to abolish the funding from our system. No one likes paying taxes, but in the sector of public education it is necessary to keep schools running and with property taxes lowered and many unable to pay them, the money for education just doesn’t exist as it once did. SPLOST is one the last remaining public funding options we have and we could lose it very soon.

I’m honestly not writing this to incite any political standpoint or even to tell others how to vote on this type of taxation. I’m actually writing about what has happened to cause so much of the public to have a distaste for our educational system, teachers, and those in charge of making decisions.

I come from a county that actually uses its money fairly wisely. We are not in the financial trouble that many other systems in my state are, yet the animosity is almost tangible as we creep closer to elections in the next year. I often read other educational blogs and one brought up the upcoming vote for renewed funding, and it was clear from the comments section that there are many who feel money has been mismanaged, misused, and therefore funding should be suspended. There are those who feel like too much of the money is being thrown at technology and that the technology has taken away from “real” education and learning in books and on whiteboards. The public perception of public schools is getting nastier by the day.

I would like to think that I understand the frustrations of many parents,  but maybe I’m blinded by my own bias, but does cutting more funding from a school system ensure any kind of change? I think we often times see symptoms but avoid the cause of the disease. In this case, we hear about mismanaged money, or we feel as though technology has hurt our students rather than helped them, and the clear solution seems to be a complete lobotomy rather than treating the issues of economy, social class, underfunding, and miscommunication. My particular system got a black eye when it was cited for spending too much money for various land plots that will be used for new facilities. That issue seems to be haunting us now. I won’t try to excuse this mismangement of funds; however, I will say that no matter how you slice it the land will be used and will be developed to aid in our system’s growth. The issue of technology has been blown out of perporations as well. I think it is easy to look around at the kids locked onto their cell phones and Nintendo DS and feel as though we are in a time of degradation in our society. (Although, every generation has felt that way.) But I’d challenge that by reminding parents and community members alike that technology is simply a tool in the classroom, not a replacement for learning and teaching.

I suppose its hard not to allow my clear bias to show, but I just can’t fathom how cutting yet more funding to a school system allows for any real change. I suppose myself and many of my colleagues will find out very soon.

Admittedly, something has to give because perceptions and ideologies in our educational systems need to change.

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