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April 02. 2013 5:26PM

On city schools: Spending caps and courage

People who demand that elected officials find the "courage" to raise taxes and spending, as some teachers union advocates did in Manchester on Tuesday, really need to stop and think about what they are asking.

Invariably, these are the same people who claim that democracy is paramount, that the wishes of the people must always prevail over the "special interests." All of that goes out the window the moment the people (not some theoretical concept of the people, but the actual people) demand that the government-employee gravy train slow down.

Manchester voters have twice approved a tax-and-spending cap. The special interests (yes, public employee unions are special interest groups) teamed up with out-of-state leftists to kill it once, and they have tried unsuccessfully to kill it ever since the voters approved it the second time. Having failed in their ultimate goal, now they plead with public officials to override the cap, which would be to override the wishes of the people.

Year after year the argument is precisely the same: Spend more money on the existing public school system, or the children will suffer. Never do the advocates for higher taxes and higher spending advocate for structural changes that might really improve the lives of Manchester's children by bringing deep, lasting reforms to the public schools. It is always money, money, money.

Does it never occur to the supposed boosters of public education that the system itself is the problem, not the level of funding? Apparently it does not. For when people propose improving the system in ways that do not involve massive infusions of more cash (as Mayor Ted Gatsas has done), they have one response: attack.

Overriding the spending cap is not the solution for making Manchester's school system better. Yes, in some areas more money would help, and when the economy improves the money will come. But many school system flaws are not financial, and no amount of money will fix them.

Spending more money on schools does not take real courage. What takes real courage is upending the status quo so that teachers, administrators and students are all held to higher standards and then held accountable should they fail to meet them.


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