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Fair and Balanced Discussion from Southern Oregon

Friday, November 28, 2003

Some people say it better than I do... 

Well, our friends at Bravo are having a West Wing Marathon

We just got the first season episode "Six Meetings Before Lunch"... In that show, Aaron Sorkin wrote the following words for Rob Lowe's Sam Seaborn to utter:
Education is the silver bullet.
Education is everything.
We don’t need little changes. We need gigantic revolutionary changes. Schools should be palaces. Competition for the best teachers should be fierce. They should be getting six-figure salaries. Schools should be incredibly expensive for government and absolutely free of charge for its citizens, just like national defense.
That is my position.
I just haven’t figured out how to do it yet.

What he said...

Of course this is the kind of long term hope that doesn't come in a single term in elective office, so it is in no way a campaign promise - but it sure is a goal - an objective, a target to strive to attain for every minute the voters of my district will let me be part of the process.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Medford Schools - The Actual Cost 

While you are pondering our situation, just a quick bit of math: $2.4 million shortfall = $36 and change per person living in Medford. Expand out to include the whole district, expand the base to include businesses, and I would bet the average burden per person per year will come in at pretty close to $20 each (maybe for most of us, even less, if we do something 'ability to pay' based)

So one nice night out to eat, 6 packs of cigarettes, one movie with snacks and a companion... any of those would equal your added burden to balance the Medford schools budget.

You'd think we could find a way.


comment edited by author - corrected reference to the nature of the 2003 session

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Medford Schools and Money and The Legislature 

Two items hit the Trib this past week, first on staffing cuts and then on pay to play in the Medford schools. These are both changes to 549c budgeting that should never have needed consideration - the State Legislature has failed since Measure 5 passed in the early '90s to find new ways to broaden the tax base and reduce the individual burden and the result has been a growing sense of rage in the electorate that manifests itself in rejection of any funding options put to a vote... and the schools (and police and fire and roads and parks) suffer.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Our Obligations to Each Other 

So this morning on the Jefferson Exchange (link over there on the right), Jeff Golden brought the topic of Pay to Play up with about 8 minutes left in the first hour. I suspect the phones went full - I was unable to get in. The first caller on the topic (Jim - from the comment thread here several weeks back) put the topic in it's place right from the get go. We (meaning the adults here) got all these things as opportunities and are better for it (those who elected to take them, anyway)...not just sports, but all the things that schools historically did to supplement the education of youth - all after school programs.

And as was hinted by a different caller, and was noted in a Mail Trib letter some months back, now that we got those things or now that our kids are through - the rest of you are on your own.

Here's the deal - we are going to pay at some point. We can decide to do it when we'll get good bang for our buck, or we can wait and just see what the bill might be if fate is allowed to run its course. Funding afterschool programs is a huge benefit - it is proactive, productive supervised time at a PHENOMENALLY low relative cost. For just ONE high school soccer team for one season, you are creating about 2500 additional supervised person-hours precisely at the point during the day when parents are unavailable to do it. Does the community benefit? Heck yeah...Would you care to live in Phoenix and have the roughly 100 teens who currently do a fall season after school activity instead being on their own from 2:30 to 5pm every day? sure some may get a job and be 'productive', some may do homework and chores - but some will have after school parties - some will be playing the lottery of "will I get caught if I..." try drugs, drink, have sex, etc...pretty much disregarding the longer term consequences of those activities.

And here's the kicker - if 1 of those kids get pregnant - if 5 of those kids get addicted to something - if 5 engage in some other criminal activity, the overall cost to the community will be higher than if we had just found a way to come up with the dollars for funding after school programs. It IS (can I emphasize this enough?) it IS in our best interests to fund every program we can. Even if we just look at the net difference in earning power of the participants being greater over their lifetime, generating more future revenues, it seems worth the investment. The likelihood for positive outcomes goes WAY up (particularly for females) and the resulting benefits to the community over time are immeasurable.

More later...

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