Column: Fix the root and fix the cause

Published 11:25 pm Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Okay, here we go again. All I have heard lately is that the state’s educational system will be at a standstill and catastrophe will hit if Congress does not pass the stimulus package as proposed by President Barrack Obama.

Everyone from the governor on down, especially the school superintendents, are yelling doom and gloom if the stimulus bill fails.

Sound familiar?

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It should. We went through this last November, except in that case it was support for Amendment 1 to the state’s constitution that allowed Gov. Bob Riley to tap into the rainy day fund.

I didn’t think passing Amendment 1 was an overall good move to make, however it was the right choice for the situation we faced and are currently facing.

I don’t think the stimulus bill in the format as it passed the House is a good move either, but many of us are faced with supporting it because of what it could mean to our school funding crisis.

Gov. Riley told a group of students Monday that the state needs the federal economic stimulus package to avoid widespread layoffs in education.

The state superintendent of education, Joe Morton, added that it will mean tremendous layoffs if the bill does not pass the Senate.

In other words, (allow me to paraphrase a little) “we got ourselves in a fix by not changing the way we fund education years ago when we went through this before (many times before). So, now we are forced to publicly push a bill that may be inadequate just because it means a bailout of our mess if the thing passes.”

Basically, we are between a rock and hard place.

We cannot afford to take a step back from education because of who it impacts the most — our kids.

Besides that, what kind of message are we sending those who are in positions of choosing their future careers right now.

We screamed so long that we needed more students to take up the mantel of becoming our next generation of educators to fix the teacher shortage.

Ok, now what? What message is this having on those high school students and college students looking into a career in education?

If this is what they have to look forward to over and over again in their future, why would they choose to become teachers — and if they do, why stay in Alabama?

We may not have much choice but to hope the stimulus bill that passed the House finds its way through the Senate with few changes, but I hope we have the sense to fix the real problem at hand — we need a reliable method by which we fund education in Alabama.

John Few is a news reporter for the Demopolis Times.