Sunday, February 26, 2006

Arts And Music Sunday: Penny Wise, Pound Foolish

Look at the type of EduCratic nonsense that an elementary school Art teacher in Wisconsin is having to contend with:
Longtime Madison art teacher Laurie Werth is seeing budget cuts up close.

The school is eliminating folded paper towels at all schools, in favor of towels that are dispensed off a roller. The district savings, according to a business services department memo, may amount to about $27,000 districtwide.

The problem is that little kids can't use a dispenser properly, Werth explained.

"They need help, or they get too much or too little. It means the teachers are spending time dispensing paper towels, instead of teaching. Believe me, in elementary art class, you need paper towels," she said.

Werth, who has taught art for over 30 years, is a teacher at Muir Elementary on the far west side.

Providing paper towels that work well for small children now becomes the responsibility of the individual schools, and teachers, she said.

"This seems like a pathetic way to try to save money," she said.
Here's a way that the Madison school system could save even more money: Instead of seeking to reduce costs by eliminating folded paper towels in primary schools, the Madison school district should consider trimming one EduCrat from the district's Office of Business Services. The annual savings to taxpayers by getting rid of the deadwood could easily be over $100,000.

But that would run counter to a decades-long practice that is found all too often in our nation's public school systems: When budget cuts are made, they almost always affect people in the classroom while insulating those Who Work in Offices from any belt-tightening whatsoever.

For example, here in our 5000 student district, dozens of teachers have been permanently laid-off over the past few years in spite of steady enrollements. Yet in over 14 years, not one single administrator has ever been laid-off, fired, or reassigned to the classroom.

It's time for systemic change.
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