SUPT. EBERWEIN ANSWERS THE PLANET, TOUTING CITY’s ‘OUTSTANDING’ SCHOOL DEPT. … WHY STIMULUS MONEY SPENT ON SCHOOLS HURTS THE ECONOMY … and GIVE ME LIBERTY OF GIVE ME METH: KROL PETITION AIMS TO CUT METHADONE CLINICS OFF AT THE PASS
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MONDAY, NOV. 28, 2011) — In case you missed it, Pittsfield School Supt. Jake Eberwein sent THE PLANET a lengthy commentary in reaction to our recent series on city schools. Several posters commented on his message, and Eberwein has, to his credit, engaged them in dialogue.
Here, we present Eberwein’s initial posting to THE PLANET. We present it without commentary, reserving our reaction to his counterpoints for tomorrow’s post.
We do this for two reasons: To better present the superintendent’s arguments in their fullness and in their clarity and to allow our readers to continue to present their own comments to Eberwein before we do.
That’ the complete statement. THE PLANET invites your reaction.
‘More Money’ for ‘The Children’ Actually Hurts the Economy and Academic Performance
On Friday, THE PLANET asserted the counterintuitive notion that the $100 billion in federal education stimulus money loosed upon American by the Obama Administration did not help and actually hurts economy. Obama followed the advice of his Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) that the release of this money would provide positive economic stimulus.
THE PLANET’s first objection is that CEA primarily made an economic argument for the release of this money and not an educational one. This confirms our assertion that public education on all levels — federal, state, and city — has become completely politicized. It measures success not by academic achievement but by dollar signs. Our second objection is that we have not been convinced that the countless trillions of dollars injected into the economy by the feds has done anything but Band-Aid over the systemic problems of an economy that operates in a gluttony of debt.
Our third objection is more substantive: Injecting $100 billion into the schools hasn’t and will not work to stimulate the economy, though it may buy the votes of the national teachers’ unions (FULL DISCLOSURE: THE PLANET WRITES AS A CARD-CARRYING MEMBER OF THE NATIONAL EDUCATION ASSOCIATION AND THE MASSACHUSETTS TEACHERS ASSOCIATION). We base our conclusion on the evidence.
* Since 1970, taxpayer spending on public schools has more than doubled, adjusted for inflation.
* During that same time, high school achievement levels have, according to the Department of Education’s long-term National Assessment of Educational Progress, declined.
* Also since 1970, the high school graduation rate has dropped 5%.
* The one undeniable achievement of increased school spending has been to increase the taxes of Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski by $300 billion in that time.
As Andrew Coulson of the Cato Institute writes, “The fact that more schooling without more learning is not a recipe for economic growth is confirmed by the independent empirical work of economists Eric Hanushek and Ludger Woessmann. Their key finding is that academic achievement, not schooling per se, is what matters to economic growth. Based on this body of research, the president’s decision to pump $100 billion into existing public school systems is likely slowing economic growth.”
We have seen the situation played out locally. More school dollars has not translated into greater academic achievement. As THE PLANET has stated, past a certain minimal level that obviously must be spent, academic achievement is not a function of politicians giving administrators and teachers unions more money. Nonetheless, that is the argument used successfully each election cycle against (yes AGAINST) taxpayers.
Give Me Liberty or Give Me Meth
Ward 6 city councilor John Krol has introduced a petition to the council pertaining to the proposed methadone clinic Spectrum Health Systems wants to establish in the Berkshire Nautilus building on Summer Street in Pittsfield.
THE PLANET, in another exclusive, present’s Krol’s petition along with the explanatory letter Krol sent to his council colleagues:
The petition “Requests that the City Council be the petitioner for a change to the zoning ordinance regarding the regulation of methadone clinics and suboxone clinics. Three basic elements to be included in the zoning ordinance are: (1) defining methadone and suboxone clinics; (2) prohibiting such clinics from the BD district and the Arts Overlay District, and (3) requiring a special permit for the establishment of said clinics anywhere within the City of Pittsfield.”
Krol wants to the council to pass a zoning law that would keep methadone clinics out of the downtown and, if a company attempts to locate such a facility elsewhere in the city, “face the highest letter of scrutiny.”
Krol’s letter of explanation to his colleagues spins the usual fairy tale of “a downtown” that is “a showpiece” (“world-class theatre, popular entertainment and cinema, a diverse mix of quality restaurants, a variety of living options, and a burgeoning creative energy that enriches our lives on many levels”). THE PLANET won’t debate the accuracy of this portrait of downtown Pittsfield. We do, however, support the notion that such a facility would be bad not only downtown but ANYWHERE in the city of Pittsfield. At least it appears — as always with a contentious issue such as this, there are two sides.
We shall make our case on tomorrow’s PLANET. In the meantime, we invite you to tell us and the rest of the world what you think by commenting below.
AND SO IN DELIBERATIVE HASTE, A CONDITION WE HAVE PATENTED, WE MOVE OUR BOAT ON, WITH THE CURRENT, BEARING US CEASELESSLY INTO THE FUTURE.
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.