I just posted Y’want Jobs? Small business? Then fund Education on the Huffington Post. I didn’t mention in that post how angry I am at the local schools problem, starting with our public schools in Eugene OR but including the funding-the-school disaster all over Oregon, California, and, as far as I know, most of the United States.
The Eugene town council met last Monday asking for public input. The public schools face a budget deficit of something like $30 million out of something like $130 million. They’re thinking of creating a city income tax to help.
Budget problems aren’t new here. They’ve already cut kindergarten to 10 hours a week. They’ve reduced school days to 168.5. But that was before the big cuts they’re looking at now.
We should know better. This is a university town. The largest employer is the University of Oregon.
This isn’t just us, this one town in Oregon. Apparently all of Oregon and California as well are locked into state constitutional provisions, created in a burst of public selfishness in the early 1990s, that cripple funding of the schools (Prop 13 in California, Measure 5 in Oregon). I assume that’s happening in most states.
Also, some say public schools are overburdened with higher-than-market compensation and retirement plans that make what spending they are able to do less effective.
Can both of these assertions be true? Does cutting spending on schools make them better, forcing them to spend more effectively? Or does it just make them worse?
On the post at Huffington I quoted Kevin Swan’s Entrepreneurship is a Passion, Not a Program, and Vivek Wadhwa’s A Better Formula: Connecting Risk Takers. They’re both writing about how governments can promote entrepreneurship and small business. Vivek concludes:
There is nothing to prevent there being many Silicon Valleys and nothing to stop most regions in the world from innovating. The focus just has to change from investing in real estate to investing in people.
So how do we invest in people? Education, perhaps?
With all the political posturing about small business, there’s not much governments can really do. Education is something they can do. And something that, frankly, they aren’t doing.