Histrionics in education
From an article in the May 22 issue of The Charlotte Observer:
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools faces "potentially devastating cuts" if County Manager Harry Jones's budget plan goes through, Superintendent Peter Gorman said Wednesday.
Gorman offered no specifics on what he'd cut if county commissioners follow Jones's recommendation to give CMS $351 million in 2008-09 -- $10 million more than this year, but $18 million less than the school board wants. That's barely enough to cover enrollment growth and the opening of seven new schools in
August, Gorman said.
"This could represent potentially devastating cuts ... that would have a negative impact on student achievement," he said. "We've got a real battle ahead of us."
Can we stop pandering to the public with these kinds of histrionics?
While the Charlotte market hasn't felt the subprime crunch like many others have, these are still tight times. Regardless, Gorman is asking for an 8.2% increase in funds from the county. When told he can only have an increase of 2.9%, he runs screaming to the cameras to tell parents how their children are going to suffer.
There's no talk of looking for efficiencies, or of reviewing existing programs to see what could be cut. In fact, the county manager asked Gorman what he would do under different budget scenarios, and Gorman refused to answer the question.
Let me be clear: I like a lot of the things I've seen from Gorman. He's been exceptional in reaching out to the community, and has made a lot of moves that could improve student achievement - some not particularly popular, like moving district-level people into the classroom and moving teachers into high-need areas.
But this kind of overacting is counterproductive, and crying wolf like this is going to destroy the credibility he needs when things do become difficult. A 30% cut in funding would be devastating; getting a 2.9% increase instead of the 8.2% you wanted in a down year is no such thing.