Saturday, April 28, 2007

A Perfect Storm for our elementary schools?

I predict that the override will fail on Tuesday. The Precint 9 warrant review meeting I went to today is by no means a representative sample of Amherst voters, but I was surprised to hear people with widely different political beliefs argue against it for very different reasons.

If I'm right, and the override fails, I just hope that Pelham, Shutesbury, and Leverett town meetings don't vote to fund the regional schools at the "as if the override passes" level. If they do, it might be the perfect storm for our elementary schools.

Why? If 3 of the 4 towns approve a regional (middle/high) school budget, then the fourth has to go along. So we might end up in a situation where Town Meeting is told we have to get money to fund the high school from SOMEWHERE.

And I bet the elementary schools will be the big losers.

All of which is exactly backwards. We should be spending more of our money on grades K-4; research shows that kids who get off to a good start in school (start out with lower class sizes) do better THROUGHOUT the rest of their school careers (even if they're put into bigger classes later on).

Friday, April 13, 2007

Tyranny of the minority in South Hadley

Like Amherst, South Hadley is in the golf course business, and, like Amherst, is losing money.

So how the heck do towns get into the golf course business in the first place? Operating a golf course isn't a core government function. Then again, neither is operating a theatre, but that doesn't stop Northampton from running the Academy of Music theatre.

There's a general problem at all levels of government of a small, vocal minority pushing issues that benefit them. The large, silent majority never speaks out, because none of the issues are large enough to get them worked up. So we all pay a dollar here on a golf course, a couple dollars there to fund a museum in Worcester and a couple more dollars to build some bridge in Alaska.

It's tax time. We need to change our system so that we no longer pay for all the silly things that the vocal minorities want us to pay for.