Monthly Archives: November 2015

The Magic of Believing in Who We are and What We Stand for

The night before Americans sat down to watch Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade and gather around the table for turkey and dressing, I stood in the center of Main Street in Disney’s Magic Kingdom watching the breathtaking splendor of lasers, lights, and fireworks. The sea of electronic devices, held high above the heads of onlookers trying to capture the moment, gave testimony to the prosperity of those in attendance.  However, what awed me most about the scene was the freedom of so many to participate in a gathering that in some places in the world would still be forbidden or at least closely monitored. Thankfully, that is not the case in America where such a simple freedom as packing and escaping on a family holiday anytime we choose is commonplace.  Unfortunately, such freedoms are often taken for granted. We are so accustomed to living our lives with few restrictions that we sometimes forget that for many people in the world such freedoms are only a wish upon a star.

Although we have much to be thankful for in America, Americans are often guilty of running around like Chicken Little crying the sky is falling. We sometimes forget that regardless of real or perceived problems, America is an exceptional place to live. The celebration on Main Street, Disney reminded me that being an American is truly special and should not be taken lightly. But, too often, we lend an ear to politicians, the news media, conspiracy believers, and yes, even some preachers spouting scare tactics about the decline of America and how bad things are in our country. We forget they are respectively looking for votes, looking to expand their following, looking to give justification for their existence, and looking to fill the pews on Sunday.  Let’s face reality; the credibility and survival of each of these groups depends on the attention they solicit to their cause. Negatively slanted news and talk of America’s decline are great recruiting tools for each of these groups.  It is unfortunate, but in America, bad news sells, spurs action, and generates interest to a much higher degree than good news.

In contrast, Disney World is a place of never ending joy. It is a place where people can temporarily lay the negatives aside and believe all is positive and good. It is a place where the ability to BELIEVE is the key to the universe. Believing is at the center of Disney’s success, and as I stood watching the fireworks, it occurred to me that “believing” is also at the core to America’s success and prosperity. Beginning with Walt Disney and continuing today, the Disney nation is built on one simple word – BELIEVE. That simple word has built, nurtured, and maintained the greatest entertainment mega giant in the history of the world, and like Disney, that same simple word has also been the key to building the greatest nation the world has ever known – The United States of America.

Our forefathers dared to BELIEVE in freedom and their right to pursue happiness and liberty from an oppressive government, but most of all they dared to BELIEVE all men are created equal in the eyes of God. Lately however, Americans seem to have forgotten how to BELIEVE. Instead of believing in our country, it seems many Americans would rather wallow in degrading and blemishing our nation than believe and celebrate the many blessings that have been bestowed on our country. Sure, there are issues that need to be addressed, but to lump them all into one damning pot characterizing America as a “has been” is absolutely crazy. Even with our problems, America still stands heads and shoulders above any other country in the world.

Our biggest problem is that as a nation, we are spoiled. We are so spoiled by the freedom to say, do, and believe as we please that sometimes we take those freedoms for granted. Instead of being thankful and appreciative of the sacrifices that have been made to ensure those rights, we take on an air of entitlement. At times, we are even guilty of taking the sweat on our brows and the dirt under our fingernails for granted; we forget that a right as simple as providing for our families is not a protected right in many parts of the world. Like a spoiled child, we often overlook how good we really have it in The United States.

Being spoiled is a sign of prosperity, but even the spoiled must sometimes take a moment to be thankful for their buttered bread. As Americans, our bread has been buttered abundantly as was evident in the streets of Disney World this past Wednesday night. Our freedoms and privileges were even more apparent Thanksgiving Day as millions of Americans gathered to celebrate their blessings with family amid overloads of turkey and dressing. In this Thanksgiving season, we need to take a moment to thank God for our many blessings. It is time to take a break from bellyaching about our country and be thankful for the privilege to live here and be called Americans. Our founding fathers as well as visionaries such as Walt Disney knew there was magic in believing in who we are and what we stand for, and that without believing the magic soon fades away. It is time we put the magic back into America. It is time to be PROUD and BELIEVE in America once again!

May each of you have a joyous Thanksgiving season, and a glorious Christmas to come!

JL

©Jack Linton, PhD   November 29, 2015

A Teacher, a Cucumber, and a Condom

I am glad to see the teacher in the Starkville Oktibbeha Consolidated School District, who had a student present a sex education demonstration with a cucumber and a condom, has been allowed to resume teaching. At issue was whether the teacher had violated House Bill 999, which reads in part, “The instruction or program (sex education) may include a discussion on condoms or contraceptives, but only if that discussion includes a factual presentation of the risks and failure rates of those contraceptives.  In no case shall the instruction or program include any demonstration of how condoms or other contraceptives are applied.” Although it is not likely the teacher or the student intended to violate the law, the wording of the bill makes it clear that sex education demonstrations such as the one conducted in Starkville are forbidden.

The purpose of those particular words in the bill is to protect innocent students from graphic displays of sexually arousing lewdness and the psychological damage that would surely follow. Of course, I am sure in this particular situation the psychological impact was about as devastating to the classroom full of high school juniors as it was to the cucumber. I am not saying the teacher should not have been reprimanded for violating the law although the Mississippi Legislature habitually violates the law when it comes to funding education without fear of reprimand, but suspending her for a week may have been a bit much in this particular case. Such a suspension is especially troubling when you consider there is a strong probability the teacher may have never heard of House Bill 999 prior to her rendezvous with the cucumber. However, there are those who will argue that ignorance of the law is not an excuse, and in most cases, that may be true, unless the law happens to be flawed as is the case with HB 999? For example, isn’t using sex education in schools to prevent teenage pregnancy, but not allowing any form of demonstration of how condoms or other contraceptives are applied, a little absurd? That is about as sane as teaching skydivers to survive jumping out of airplanes without first demonstrating how to correctly put on a parachute and demonstrate how it works? Let’s not beat around the bush, if we are going to make any headway with kids today about such issues as teen pregnancy, it is time to stop believing in chastity belts and move out of the dark ages.

Although I am not convinced schools are the best place to teach sex education in the first place, I do agree it is the easiest venue in which to capture the targeted audience. However, the issue is not really sex education. My issue is why do lawmakers, not only in Mississippi but across the nation, continue to force schools to do the job of mamas and daddies? Why do lawmakers and the general public continue to scream about the shortcomings of public schools, yet expect public schools to take responsibility for society’s problems and work miracle cures for those problems? Why can’t teachers concentrate on the jobs they were trained to do, and leave delicate family matters to the mamas and daddies, health department, or even the church? Or maybe, if state legislators want sex education taught in the public schools, they should consider volunteering to teach it in their home districts?

The teacher in Starkville was not a vile lecherous person. She did not have an evil agenda to corrupt young minds. Through the presentations, she was working with her students to apply the research, writing, and communication skills she had taught them; the sex education demonstration was simply a byproduct of her doing her job. I doubt seriously, outside of maybe a one time professional development or a reminder in a faculty meeting, that she had any knowledge of HB 999 much less any real training as a sex education teacher.

Maybe, the teacher should have screened the presentations and demonstrations prior to class. Maybe, she did, and not knowing about HB 999, she thought the demonstration was acceptable for 16 and 17 year old high school students. Or, maybe, the student made a last minute change to the demonstration without her knowledge hoping for a better grade.  Regardless of what happened, it is probably not fair to blame anyone or anything with the exception of a well-intended but flawed bill. The student was after the best grade possible, the teacher was doing her job, the Legislature originally passed the bill with the intent to help an escalating problem, teen pregnancy, and the school administration felt they had no choice but to suspend the teacher from the classroom until they could investigate the matter.  All of these had merit, so what went wrong?

The law itself is the culprit! Any law that abdicates parental responsibilities and places those responsibilities elsewhere, such as in the laps of schools, is flawed. Schools naturally take on the role of parents for many students, but to legally burden teachers with responsibilities that rightfully belong to parents is wrong even if it is the easiest and cheapest way to go about addressing issues. Also, if legislators insist on passing such bills as HB 999, they should at least give teachers permission to address the issues in a straight forward manner free of the archaic taboos that help feed the problem in the first place. If not, all that is being accomplished is the likely hood of chasing good teachers out of the profession.

Although the teacher in Starkville was reinstated to teach and hopefully exonerated of any wrong doing, she will most likely carry the scars of her traumatic and humiliating ordeal for the rest of her life. I truly hate that for her, but at the same time, I applaud her for actively engaging her students in the assignment. She could have just as easily played it safe and assigned them worksheets like they received during the week of her absence, or she could have given them the old “sit and git” routine of lecture and classroom busy work assignments. However, she chose to make a difference by actively engaging her students in learning. I just hope her run-in with a cucumber in a rubber overcoat doesn’t make a good teacher reconsider her career choice.

JL

©Jack Linton, PhD November 22, 2015

Are Syrian Refugees Our Second Chance?

People across America are scared, and rightfully so. We have always trusted our government to keep us safe from atrocities such as those brazenly embraced by Middle East radicals set on destroying the world as we know it. Unfortunately, due to our government’s limited involvement against the ISIS threat, America’s trust is wavering. American citizens, some of whom have never owned a hunting rifle much less a handgun, are arming themselves in record numbers, not because they are suddenly enamored with guns, but because they are scared for their safety and the safety of their families. They still trust in the ability of the men and women in the armed services to protect them; however, they no longer trust Congress or the President to unleash those men and women to do the job they were trained to do – protect American citizens!

A consequence of this fear is that we, a nation of refugees, are primed to turn our backs on the Syrian refugees fleeing for their lives; people searching for a haven for their families. Some call it “common sense” to shut out the Syrian refugees, and considering the senseless murders of 911 and the recent murders of defenseless innocent people in Paris, it is hard to argue against that point. Even so, in taking such a common sense stand, are we selling out what is morally right? Is such a stand what Americans do when confronted by an evil that goes against everything we value and believe, or is such a stand simply un-American? It is understandable that we must be cautious, and we must take steps to ensure the safety of American citizens, but is it morally right to turn people away who are trying to do the very thing “common sense” Americans are striving to do – protect themselves and their families?

Should the United States allow Syrian refugees to enter the country is a troubling paradox. Americans are a compassionate God fearing people who believe in God’s commandment to love our neighbors and care for our fellow man. However, our government’s inability to effectively handle the ISIS crisis has paralyzed our compassion and hardened our hearts out of fear of becoming their next victims. The terrorists have accomplished their goal of striking fear into the heart of America. As a result, we are poised to close our doors to Syrian refugees as we did in 1939 to Jewish refugees on board the SS St. Louis seeking sanctuary from the Nazi murderers.   In 1939, our fear sent nearly 1,000 men, women, and children back to Europe, where half of them died in the Jewish Holocaust that followed. Seventy-six years later, will our fear once again send the innocent back to death’s door, or will we trust in God, and accept the Syrian refugees as our second chance to do what is right?

JL

©Jack Linton, PhD. November 17, 2015

Strategies Guaranteed to Keep You from being Offended

Offended

Where is the lighthouse we once called sanity?
Its beacon unseen to eyes searching the sea,
Lost in a storm of fashionable outrage,
Blinding our perspective of reality.

In a world overripe with self-indulgence,
Where victim status is gratification,
Exquisite tender feelings the vehicle
Nourishing and qualifying existence.

Victimized sensibilities adopted;
Allowing acceptance to the human fold.
Meaningless lives granted credibility
By simply uttering “I am offended.”

In a society quick to place blame, celebrate dysfunction, and revere hyper-sensitivities, people embrace the neurosis of being offended as their link to humanity. They bludgeon the “Golden Rule” into self-gratification – “do unto me as I would have you do unto me.” They claim victim status although it is their pursuit of gratification and their paranoia with personal insecurities that contribute most to that status. They seek approval through martyring their beliefs and principles. Without universal public acknowledgement and approval, their lives have little meaning or value; they feel ignored, isolated, and even violated. “I am offended,” is their cry for attention, acceptance, and standing; it is what makes them feel alive and human.

We live in a culture of indignant sufferers; people who are self-proclaimed victims. In today’s society, it is fashionable to find offense with everything, especially different perspectives on life, different lifestyles, and different beliefs. It has become mandatory for people to walk on egg shells and instantly cease and discontinue any activity that might send some self-ordained victim into an indignant rage. As a result, we are trapped in an ever spinning dance of political correctness where we are pressed into a corner until we give up and reward the infantile cry of the offended with the concessions they demand. There is no longer any rhyme or reason to these affronts other than he who cries loudest gets his way.

Of course, there are those who will argue the whine of the offended is not about self-gratification, but rather, it is a cry for compassion and sensitivity. Hogwash!  In the mass produced sensitivity hysteria of today’s society, there are few exceptions where being offended is not the intentional pursuit of self-gratification or the result of insecurities surrounding personal views and beliefs. A person secure in his beliefs does not need the acknowledgement or assurance of others nor does he need to bring attention to himself to lend standing to his principles. He does not scour the sea looking for a lighthouse beacon or a lifeboat as a savior; he is safe and secure in who he is and what he believes. He is not offended by those who do not share his feelings, beliefs, or views. He simply smiles, gives them a warm pat on the back, and goes about his business thinking, “Bless their hearts.”

However, for most people, it is difficult to avoid getting sucked into the world of the offended. Americans have mastered the art of wearing their feelings on their sleeves, and with the exception of individual heroic efforts, there is little hope our society will have the courage and will power to escape our overindulgence in self-serving gratification any time soon. We have lost our backbone to stand up to proclamations of self-righteous indignities. We are drowning in a sea of hurt feelings and entitlement. The “I am Offended” epidemic has turned us into a comedic nation of slobbering ninnies slowly rowing out to sea in a leaking lifeboat.

What we need are strategies that will restore common sense, and hopefully enable Americans to regain their backbone. With some simple strategies to follow during moments of weakness, people might be less likely to be offended. However, the best strategy or advice to help people avoid being offended comes from the Bible in Ecclesiastes 7:21-22. “Do not take to heart everything people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. For many times, also, your own heart has known that even you have cursed others.” Of course, I probably offended someone by quoting the Bible. But then again, we have to start somewhere. We need to stop looking out to sea for the lighthouse beacon. We need to use some common sense and look to the shore for the light before we are lost beyond the horizon.

Strategies Guaranteed to Keep You from being Offended

  1. “Stop it” Strategy: Stop looking for ways to be offended. If you look, you will find, so STOP IT! Being offended is not worth the stress it causes;
  2. “Grow Up” Strategy: Quit whining about being offended! Grow up, and get over it! Being offended is a personal monkey shifted onto someone else’s shoulders! Unfortunately, lately, society has been more than willing to take on everybody’s monkey. Just because you are offended doesn’t mean you are right. All it means is that like everyone else you have an opinion;
  3. “Turn it off” Strategy: If something offends you, Turn the page; Turn it off; Turn your head, or Turn a deaf ear! Do whatever you need to do to focus elsewhere. If you dwell on it, you must enjoy it! If you enjoy it, what’s the problem?
  4. “Shrug” Strategy: If you are offended and can’t do anything about it, shrug it off and move on. If you have no control over something, why worry about it unless you just like hearing yourself whine. If that is the case, join a country band or a political party;
  5. “It is not Personal” Strategy: Being offended is a personal problem, so quit trying to involve the world in your problem! Stop taking everything so personal! Quit trying to be a victim! The odds are that whatever you find offensive was not directed at you personally! Even if it was, there is little you can do about it, so move on. Only an extremely minuscule percentage of the people in the world even know you exist, so spend your time on the people who “float your boat” and you float theirs, and ignore the rest;
  6. “Be Humble” Strategy:   Everything is not about you. You are not the center of the universe! Be humble with your opinions and beliefs. Your opinions and beliefs are yours; they do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of the management, your neighbor, or the human race as a whole. God loves diversity; that is why each of us is different;
  7. “Don’t Be a Ninny” Strategy: Don’t be a ninny and think and act like you are the only person in the world with beliefs and opinions that matter. Only a nitwit or someone born in a hay filled barn with no ventilation is shocked and upset to learn there are people who have different views and opinions than they do. Face it, the world is full of different people with different personalities, beliefs, habits, life styles, and opinions; unfortunately, everybody cannot be a perfect copy of you;
  8. “Don’t Judge” Strategy:   Resist judging! People who are slow to judge are not easily offended;
  9. “Be in Control” Strategy: No one can offend you unless you allow them to offend you. People who are easily offended are easily manipulated and controlled. When you allow yourself to be offended, you are allowing someone to control your emotions and your life; and
  10. “Chill” Strategy: When you get a super-duper “That offends me wedgie” over what someone said or did, take a chill pill, relax, and refer to any of the nine strategies above. Life is too short to worry about things you cannot control, so find a source of gratification that doesn’t require the approval of others, re-assess your personal views and beliefs, or simply relax and enjoy the show!

I hope you find these strategies helpful, but if you insist on being offended, I have a leaking lifeboat I will loan you complete with a single oar locked to the starboard side. When you make it to the lighthouse, let me know.

JL

©Jack Linton, November 15, 2015

Lessons Public School Teachers Learned from Initiative 42

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 the people of Mississippi sent a message to public school educators that they didn’t care. That may sound harsh since many of those who voted against supporting education actually did care, but they were confused and bamboozled by the GOP leadership. Nevertheless, their numbers, plus the numbers of those who truly didn’t care, successfully drove a stake through the hearts of public school educators. To put it simply, public school teachers in Mississippi were royally shafted!

There is little doubt that if the campaign leading up to the vote had been on the up and up, Initiative 42 would have passed. But, the deceitful propaganda and the campaigning of the Southern fried good old boy troubadours (Bryant, Reeves, and Gunn) were simply too much for many Mississippians to see through. In a state where much of the population acquires its news solely from talk radio, television, and word of mouth, it is disappointing but understandable when people prove to be gullible to such tactics. In spite of the valiant efforts to cleanse the confusion and dirt from the air surrounding Initiative 42, teachers, parents, college professors, and church ministers, to name a few, tried unsuccessfully to debunk anti-Initiative 42 hearsay that was laced with tidbits of race bating and “you ain’t gonna tell us what to do” phobia. It is hard to compete with the hair dresser, Uncle Snooty, Aunt Birdie, wisdom benders in the church parking lot, and Cousin Jeb who knows a guy who knows a guy in the Legislature, telling people the truth as they, by God and word of mouth, know it to be.

Nevertheless, in spite of the shafting, educators learned that for maybe the first time in history, they are not alone! They learned there is a grassroots movement of over 300,000 Mississippians who are also fed up with the lack of Legislative support for education. This movement represents the new Mississippi, and educators must take care not to overlook the tremendous efforts so many people made on their behalf. Though discouraged, this is a time for teachers to take what has been learned from this fight and temporarily file it away to use another day. This is a Mississippi fight that will not end until education becomes a priority.

What Educators Learned From Initiative 42

  1. We learned our state leaders are not above intentionally misleading and confusing the people;
  2. We learned some community college presidents who have always touted being a friend of public education speak with the tongue and venom of a snake;
  3. We learned what the rest of the nation has been saying is true – Mississippi has changed little;
  4. We learned many people in our state believe too much is spent on education, and some even believe they could take the money presently spent on education and do a better job teaching than state teachers. Of course, teachers know that is a lot of hot air! First, those would be teachers would not commit themselves to spending thousands of dollars for the degrees and advanced degrees it takes to get a license to teach! Second, those would be teachers couldn’t handle the long hours dealing with someone else’s kids while shortchanging their own, and they certainly would not work for a teacher’s salary that when divided by the hours worked amounts to far less than minimum wage. Those would be teachers wouldn’t have the stomach to clean up the vomit, deal with soiled clothes, and runny noses that go along with the job. They wouldn’t understand that teachers often have to be a mama or daddy to children in need of guidance, love and a whole lot of understanding and compassion. They couldn’t cope with the stress that goes with an “I gottcha!” evaluation system. They would not subject themselves to the constant ridicule and disrespect thrown at them by so many in the public and political ranks. But, most of all those would be teachers couldn’t handle going to work every day praying their family understands why they teach, and hoping at least the parents of the children they teach care and appreciate the job they are doing, but knowing other than family, a handful of remarkable parents, and colleagues, no one cares about them as a teacher;
  5. We learned that before the dust of the battle has fully cleared, the talk in Jackson is not about what the Legislature can do to show they care about teachers, but rather the talk is centered around doing away with MAEP, so in the future the legislators will not have to face a situation similar to Initiative 42 again;
  6. We learned that many people believe Mississippi education is broken, but they are not willing to do what it takes to fix it;
  7. We learned from people who haven’t been in a classroom or walked into a school in years what a sorry job teachers are doing in the classroom and how they are wasting taxpayer money;
  8. We learned all the education money is going to millionaire school administrators and not the classrooms;
  9. We learned that a Mississippi chancery judge is the most powerful judicial position in the state and maybe the nation; and
  10. We also learned that a chancery judge is especially powerful if he or she is black and from Hinds County.

Initiative 42 was a time of learning and coming to grips with reality for public school educators. In addition to the lessons mentioned above, educators learned that when it comes to education, too many in the public are quick to the trigger with excuses for not supporting it. Politically, educators learned that, other than the faces, little has changed in Mississippi politics over the years – the party in power still tends to be the party of suppression. However, the most important lesson educators learned is that it takes the passion of a saint, the courage of a warrior, and the compassion of an angel to be a teacher in Mississippi. As I have said elsewhere, teachers from Mississippi will not have to stand in line in Heaven to get their wings; they will be moved immediately to the head of the line.

JL

©Jack Linton, PhD, November 7, 2015

The Reality of School Cuts if Initiative 42 Fails

People opposed to Initiative 42 like to speculate on the cuts other Mississippi state agencies may face if the Initiative passes, but they fail to see the cuts public schools live with everyday; cuts that are not speculative.  Cuts in public school are a reality!  K – 12 public schools have been steadily cutting their budgets for years! It is not uncommon for school districts in Mississippi to cut their budgets by as much as 15% to open the school doors to start the school year, cut the budget again at Christmas by another 10%, and then cut 5% in the spring to keep the schoolhouse doors open until May. While cuts to other state agencies are at this point pure speculation at best, there is nothing speculative about the present reality of cuts in public schools and the forthcoming cuts that will result if Initiative 42 does not pass. Many of our state schools are to the point they cannot continue to make cuts and keep the schoolhouse doors open!

The problem is that too many in the public are not aware of the financial struggles their community schools have been facing. Why should they be? School district superintendents, school boards, and the faculty and staff have always “sucked it up” and moved forward in the best interests of the children despite the cuts. The problem is they have “sucked it up” until the well is almost sucked dry. Unfortunately, as long as the school buses keep rolling, the lights keep flickering on in classrooms, and the football team and the band plays on Friday nights, the public will continue to believe all is well and good in “public school land.” However, financially, all is not good in “public school land!” Let’s not kid ourselves, it’s time Mississippians consider the magnitude of public school cuts and what those cuts will mean not only to their children but to their communities as well if Initiative 42 fails to pass.

As I have said elsewhere, with or without Initiative 42, Mississippi will continue to have school – at least for the foreseeable future. Whatever cuts happen in the public schools, few in the public will notice until those cuts begin to hit home. The public will not notice until family members who work in schools as assistant teachers, custodians, maintenance workers, clerical staff, and even teachers are sent home without a job because there is little or no money to pay them. The public will not notice until the local schoolhouse doors are closed and their children are bused across counties thirty or forty miles to the nearest school still open. And, the public will not notice there is a serious financial problem in public schools until the football team and the band stops playing on Friday night!

Unfortunately, most people in the public do not believe these things are possible. They take public schools and the education it provides their children, the jobs it provides people in their community, and the sense of pride it instills in their community for granted. They shouldn’t!  If the public does not make public school education a priority by passing Initiative 42, these things are very much in jeopardy.  Unless, the public demands their public schools become a priority in Jackson, they should expect major cuts in their community schools. Folks, this “ain’t no” scare tactic! If you think it is, take a serious look at the following decisions regarding your community schools that will need to be made if adequate funding for public schools is not addressed soon. This list is not speculation of the cuts that will need to be considered! These are cuts local school boards will have to consider unless there is adequate funding for education in their school districts.

Cuts the public can expect to see if community public schools are not properly funded:

  1. Non-certified personnel cuts: Although this list does not necessarily represent cuts in priority order, the first cuts usually made in a school district are in the area of non-certified personnel (non-teaching positions). Therefore, if there are assistant teachers in schools, they will probably be the first to be sent home without a job. Next in line to lose their jobs due to cuts will be cafeteria workers, custodians, clerical staff, and maintenance personnel, and any other non-certified positions;
  2. School Counselors cut: Although school counselors are already in short supply in most schools, without proper funding, you can expect to see school counselor positions eliminated in all but the wealthiest school districts;
  3. School Nurses cut: School nurses may be cut to one per school district, or none at all;
  4. School Security cut: In an era when school safety and security are a major concern, school security officers may have to be cut to one per school district, or cut completely;
  5. Program cuts: Districts will be forced to look very closely at course/subject offerings. Tough choices will have to be made about such courses/programs as foreign languages, visual arts, performing arts, choir, physical education, driver education, technology, vocational programs, and tutoring programs to determine which programs, if any, survive;
  6. Certified personnel cuts:  Many districts will have to cut the number of teachers in their districts, which will result in more students in each classroom as well as reduced course/subject offerings;
  7. Extracurricular activities cut: Extracurricular activities such as band, show choir, and sports (football, basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball, etc.) will have to be severely cut back or eliminated altogether. For example, school districts could save money by eliminating the purchase and upkeep of athletic and band uniforms and equipment. Money could be saved by cutting athletic trainers, and cutting back or eliminating band directors, football coaches, etc. Savings could be realized by parking athletic, band, and cheerleader buses. Many schools across the state will be forced to take hard looks at the financial feasibility of keeping extracurricular activities in their community schools;
  8. School Schedules shortened:  The length of the school day as well as cutting schools to a four day week would have to be considered. By moving to a four day school week, school districts theoretically could save as much as 20% of their overhead costs such as utilities, transportation, food services, and salaries for both certified and non-certified personnel. Of course, such a move might also impact parents financially since they would need to pay for daycare services for younger children who would normally be in school;
  9. Facility decisions/cuts: There will be little new construction, and even basic maintenance needs will have to be cut to the bare minimum. This has already happened in many school districts, and will only get worse without adequate funding;
  10. Transportation cuts: (1) If extracurricular activities survive the cuts, the number of games and contests will need to be drastically reduced, thereby saving on transportation costs; (2) Without funding for transportation upgrades (new buses) and maintenance, double routing school buses packed to capacity will become the norm as buses are taken out of service without money to repair or replace them; and (3) To save on transportation costs, school field trips at all grade levels will need to be eliminated.

I am sure there are other school district cuts I am leaving out, but the point is, it is speculation at best to say state agencies will be cut 7.8% if Initiative 42 passes, but it is NOT speculation to say that school districts will have to make cuts, even dramatic cuts, if Initiative 42 does not pass – the cuts are already happening! Schools are expensive, but the impact of not adequately funding community schools will impact not only the education of our children, but the economy of our communities (loss of wages from shortened work schedules and layoffs), and community pride as well. The only protection against public school cuts and the devastation such cuts cause our children and our communities is to VOTE for INITIATIVE 42!

JL

©Jack Linton, PhD November 2, 2015