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Are we in this together, or what?

So yesterday, you might have heard, thousands of kids in New Jersey schools staged a walk-out, as a protest against impending budget cuts. Now, okay, you know that among those thousands were probably two or three kids who just wanted to smoke dope in the park, but still, that’s a lot of kids getting together to make a statement.

The budget cuts proposed by Governor Christie call for millions of dollars to be trimmed from school budgets–all those “extras,” you know, like art and music and sports and librarians–not to mention after-school programs (aka the salvation of the working parent) and, of course, teacher jobs.

Apparently 58% of New Jerseyians decided that a tax increase for education was too much to ask in these belt-tightening times, so they voted down school budgets, in part because of anger at the teachers’ union, which refused a salary freeze. A salary freeze…maybe for the teacher in Bergen County with two years experience and a B.A. who makes a whopping $44,000 a year, before taxes. Yeah. I can see how she’s really sucking the life from the district budget–or perhaps it’s the person who makes barely $90,000 a year before taxes–with forty years of experience. Forty years teaching 8th grade math. What would they have to pay you to get you to spend ten months a year, five days a week, eight hours a day, with literally hundreds of 12 year olds? Have you met a twelve-year old lately? Monsters. Hormone-crazed monsters, even the “good” ones.

So here’s my question: does the New Jersey vote mean that the next time there’s a tax referendum on the ballot about, say, highway and road improvements, I can vote against it because I don’t have a car? For that matter, my apartment hasn’t ever burned down, so why should I pay taxes that are going to go to fire departments? And I’ve never been mugged or had to go to an emergency room, either, so I don’t want to pay taxes for those things…and I’m pretty much a pacifist, so I’d rather not pay taxes that go to the military.

Social contract, people, social contract. A well-educated population is as important as fire engines that work and armies with adequate body armor.

I’m just saying.

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4 Responses to Are we in this together, or what?

  1. Jeanellen April 28, 2010 at 11:07 am #

    OK – that was me yesterday at our Town Council meeting showing my support for our voted down NJ school budget. Our town lost 100% of state funding for the rest of this year and all of next year and 1,800 plus residents felt that a $246 per home tax increase was too much to ask to make up the short fall. Gee, I wonder if we’ll keep our spot as #15 on the top 100 schools in the state of NJ after these bozos on the town council get through slashing and burning. Since when is education all about SAT scores and not about helping to turn out fully fashioned human beings?

  2. JS May 1, 2010 at 7:20 am #

    Well said! And FYI NJ’s is not alone, New Yorkers could be facing a similar situation very soon. I am hearing mixed things from people in Albany involved in the budget negotiations, some are saying education is safe, others saying everything is on the table. NYs budget deadline passed April 1 and we are facing a 9 billion $ defecit and viable options for resolving the crisis are not forthcoming. Probably the most sensible & realistic option came from the Lt. Gov. but the Gov’s recent editorial in the NYT seemed to showcase some division between them. And good old NY, we have an unelected Gov., unelected Lt. Gov, unelected Comptroller (all due to political scandals) & and even an appointed Jr. Senator (due to Clinton’s appointment as Secretary of State). So assuming we get beyond this current crisis – every New Yorker should think seriously about their vote during the midterms this year – not only at the federal, but the state and local levels as well. NY is certainly not alone, but it’s a state in a leadership/governmental/political crisis and it has been for some time.

  3. Dick Horwich May 1, 2010 at 10:28 am #

    Ah, the reductio ad absurdum, one of my favorite forms of argument!

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