The System is Broken

OK, I’m not trying to be Mr. Controversial here, and this is NOT a political rant (I don’t touch that stuff with at 10-foot pole).  But a good friend of mine shared an email with me from the High School nurse, and I felt some things needed to be said about it.  So here we go.

The email was a simple, and very friendly, request for donations to the nurse’s office.  She wasn’t looking for money, just some apple juice and water to give to the kids that end up there for whatever reason.  Seems like a reasonable request, perhaps – but I would disagree.  And I would submit to you that this is textbook evidence of a severely broken educational funding system, at least here in Illinois (I try not to generalize).

My first, and very emotional and arguably inappropriate, reaction was maybe I should just scan my property tax bill, send it on over, and suggest maybe there should be funds to cover a $3.99 case of water for the students.  But that’s not fair to her – this is not her fault.  So I did not do that obviously.  I always follow the 24-hour rule when something really pisses me off.  Wait 24 hours and you’ll probably write something different.  Anyway, TO BE CLEAR HERE, I am not blaming the school nurse for making the request for donations.  This is not her fault at all.  So for all the nurses out there, don’t flame me – I’m not picking on her.

The hard part though is who exactly to blame, and that is likely why it’s still broken.  Politics is surely a factor, especially in our highly corrupt State of IL, and even more so in Chicago.  I would argue that pensions are a factor as well.  I’m sorry, but I don’t believe that ANYONE is “entitled” to a pension – that model just doesn’t work if you do the math.  Forget about “opinions” and “promises” – this is a simple math exercise.  The system simply cannot afford to pay a pension for the rest of people’s lives as perhaps it used to – people are living much longer now.  I don’t really care what you were promised or what you believe you are “entitled” to – it just doesn’t work and the numbers don’t lie.  So if you want to further the demise of our educational system because of a “promise”, go right ahead.

Beyond that though, there’s the whole issue of property taxes funding education.  I believe that is also based on a model that just doesn’t work anymore. People may be OK with paying a LOT of taxes every year to the school district (58% of my property taxes last year when to the our school district) while their kids are in school.  But what about the next 30-50 years?  Probably not so happy to see all that money going towards something that you aren’t using and haven’t for a long time.  The argument used to be that funding a strong educational system would attract more home buyers, younger families, fuel growth, and increase property values.  But how long has it been since you saw any significant increase in your property value?  How many of you are maybe even upside down on your mortgage?  Property values aren’t increasing like they used to, which is exactly what is breaking this model. Again, the theory is based on a reality that no longer exists.  Again, it’s a numbers game so like it or not, the numbers don’t work here and the system needs to change.

I’m not going to dive to deep into this one, but also consider what this model does to less fortunate areas where the property taxes aren’t as high.  They don’t get as much money, unless Robin Hood comes around and takes from the rich to give to the poor.  This touches on too much politics, so I’m not going there.  Just recognizing the issue.

No, I am NOT running for office.  I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed, but I’m not an idiot either.  I like to write about random topics and when I got the request for donations to the school nurse, it sparked many thoughts in my little brain.

So noodle that a bit.  Write your congressperson, maybe an op-ed, or submit something to your local paper.  The educational funding system in IL is 100% broken and until we tear it down and rebuild it, unfortunately it’s the kids that are going to continue to suffer.

I shall kindly retreat from my soap box now.  🙂

PS – Many very generous and thoughtful families did fulfill all the donation requests for the school nurse, so thank you to them!


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