Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Just Another Signpost

... on the road to Gomorrah*.

It's election season, so the TV is filled with ads for mysterious ballot propositions.

Aside: I've always wanted to print a bumper sticker and a yard sign for a non-existent proposition with an inscrutable tagline. It would say something like: "Yes on Q! Excoriate the Cephalopods!"

Last night, while expanding my vocabulary with Pat and Vanna, I saw one for some education bond or tax or theft. Whatever it was, more money was going to be given to edumakashun. Hooray for larnin'! One of the sales points was that the money was going to allow teachers to improve early education as in K-3.

Or maybe I'm conflating this with something I read on the web. Who knows. They always want more and more money to do things mankind has been doing for 2,000 years - teach basic literacy and math.

How much has really changed in what we expect out of 8-year-olds over the last, say, two centuries? Are we hoping they pick up breadboard soldering skills, or is it still phonics and basic math functions? I've been out of the parenting-tiny-tots business for a while, so I'm not sure, but I suspect we still hope they've got "C-A-T" and "3 x 4 = 12" by second grade and not much else.

Getting to the point: If we need more and more money to inflict the same basic skills we did 100 years ago, doesn't that indicate the incoming raw material is of worse quality?

I wonder why that is.

* - I have to admit, these kinds of posts are part easy to write, part heartfelt and part self-parody. I'm well aware that if you read my blog there would be a ton of doom, Doom, DOOM!


Ilíon said...

"They always want more and more money to do things mankind has been doing for 2,000 years - teach basic literacy and math."

Well, 2000 years ago, they didn't have scads of locusts .... er, administrators, to be housed and fed and clothed in appropriate levels of comfort.

Still, it's a bit odd that they are advertising this desired tax increase. Usually, they put these things on the ballots in off-elections of special elections ... and then do their best to keep the issue secret from the general voter.

WC Varones said...

KT Cat is an optimist.

Ohioan@Heart said...

I *hate* that graph. Too many people will look at it and think, "well they all look alike, so who cares". Of course the one is the percentage of the other, so it growing like that means the raw numbers are growing WAY faster, and a graph of that would really show the problem.

tim eisele said...

Well, you could just read the ballot proposal and criticize it properly:,_Public_School_Facility_Bonds_(2016)

It says what the money is for, and you can decide whether it is reasonable or not. They are asking for your opinion by putting it on the ballot, so you should give it to them.

As it is, I think your post looked less like any sort of actionable position, and more like you are shouting "Why should I pay anything for those young whippersnappers?" while shaking your cane.

tim eisele said...

And while I don't actually have a say in this (not being in California and all), it looks like that ballot proposition isn't really intended to address any real educational issues, and the proposal is an attempt to ram it through against the wishes of the Governor. It looks like it is mainly intended to be a gift to the construction industry, doing a lot of unspecified school construction in bulk rather than justifying it in each case. Instead of borrowing 9 billion up front and doling it out to their construction buddies while sticking the state with an extra 500 million in interest payments to cover it, they'd be better off just committing the 500 million for actual necessary maintenance of the buildings they've got (something the government is generally really awful at doing. There's no glamour in maintenance).

K T Cat said...

Tim, it wasn't about the bond issue or whatever it was, it was a broader thought - why is it more expensive than ever to get 7-year-olds to read? No cane-shaking involved at all.

It's kind of like finding that your car's gas mileage has gone from 24 MPG to 16 MPG. One way to solve that is to hold a referendum in your family and pass Schwartz Proposition 51, Automobile Fuel Bonds (2016). Another way to deal with it is to figure out why the thing has become such a gas hog.

Ilíon said...

"There's no glamour in maintenance"

Or, to put it another way, if you want your name on a bronze plaque, you have to (use other people's money to) build a new building.