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Journal-News (Hamilton, Ohio); April 12, 1992, p

More money is no answer to

By Nicolas Martin
For the Journal-News
Despite the endless harping of
columnists and government
commissions, Americans seem
in no hurry to arrest the contin-
ued erosion of educational stan-
dards. As long as our basketball
is world-class, we're content
with fourth-rate schools.
Fairfield has managed to
sleepwalk its way through the
MTV decade along with the rest
of the country. Like so many
other shrubs, we are planted
squarely in the median of the
national freeway to academic
mediocrity. We may be stupid,
but at least we're not different.
Just how effective the educa-
tional establishment has been
at removing our capacity to .
think will be. tested ill the up-
coming primary, when we'll
have the opportunity to grease
the palms of the organized syn -
dicate controlling the schools. A
"yes" vote on the Fairfield
School Levy is an endorsement
of a scholastic policy which, with
a .little fme-tuning, will doom
our stUdents to the academic at-
Guest column
tain.ment level 'of, say, Botswa-
Students in the 1990-91
school year scored lower on both
the math and English portions
of the ACT than students in
1981-82. .
. How much are we paying for
this increased ignorance? In
1981-82 there were 7,133 stu-
dents in the system and the
school budget was a mere
$13,382,000, which works out to
$1,876 per student. In 1991-92,
the number of students had
grown to 8,440, an increase of
18 percent. Meanwhile the bud-
get has hit $30,148,789, a
breathtaking 225 percent in-
crease in the same period. We
are now spending $3,572 per ,
badly educated student.
What else has changed in
Fairfield schools over the past
decade? Compared to the 18 per-
cept increase in pupils, we have
experienced a 53 percent in-
administrative staff.
We have also had a 255 percent
in "special services"
staff, and a 340 percent increase
in the number of teacher's aides.
While .the increased number of
teachers has been relatively
modest at 20 percent, the salary
hikes for all teachers have been
anything but modest. The aver-
age salary for a Fairfield
teacher has jumped by 167 per-
in the past 10 years, about
twice the rate of inflation. For
t he rest of Americans, inflation-
adjusted income has increased
hardly at all over the same peri-
od, especially in industries
which have done as poorly as
the schools.
The average yearly salary of a
Fairfield teacher is now
$31,419. The average per capita
income of all Fairfield residents
was $11,680 in 1991.
Most Americans, brainwashed
by the education trust, still be-
lieve the fiction that money is
the answer to the country's edu-
cation problems. Many studies
have examined the relationship
of teacher salaries to student
84 percent of
these studies have found no re-
lationship' or a negative one, ac-
ducation problems
cording to a, 1989 survey . .
To boost that 225 percent in-
crease we will now pony up an-
other $3,280,552 per year, or
else. What does the "or else" in-
clude? All busing for grades
9-12 Will be wiped o'ut. "Extra-
Duty, Extra-Curricular, Extend-
ed-Time Contracts" will be
slashed. Field trips will be
nixed. Bowing to public rela-
tions, some administrative
ries and positions are destined
to be cut, but ot nearly enough.
After a decade of massive in-
creases in expenditures and
sliding test scores, we are in-
formed that only another whop-
ping tax increase can prevent vi-
cious cuts.
Official jargon obscures the
size. of this tax increase behind
discussion of "mills" and
"annual yields." The truth is,
though, that this levy is a tax
increase of about 16 percent.
If you own a home worth
$30,000 you presently pay $258
in school taxes a year. If the levy
passes that will increase td
$303. If your home . is worth
$50,000, your school tax will go
from $430 to $505. If you own a
home worth $150,000, your tax ,
burden will increase fro r
$1,292 to $1,497.
Asia and Latin America 11re
booming. The Western
ans are moving to
union, and Eastern Euror e is
free of communism. Meanwhile
the American economy 1s dead
in the water, saddled by g3,rgan-
tuan deficits, regulatory stran-
gulation, and a poorly e .ucated
We can, and better, deal with
the inadequacy of the schools
here at home right now. The
first step is to ''just say no" to
extortinate tax increases to feed
the incompetent education es-
tablishment. Then a major
housecleaning is needed to re-
move the political know-noth-
ings who perpetuate the prob-
lem. You'll identify them when
you hear them say, "We've made
strides; but there is much more
we could do if we had the mon-
(Nicolas Martin is executive
director of the Consumer Health
Education Council and lives in