By DR. LARRY MOSES
No one asked me but… The Clark County School District is facing a $64 million budget deficit that they hope to overcome by reducing teacher compensation by the same amount. While reducing teacher pay by $64 million, the district has indicated that they plan to expand the $84 million they spend annually on technology by an additional $65.1 million over the next five years.
That means the district will now spend nearly $90 million dollars a year on technology. If my rather limited math ability is correct, the district will spend somewhere around $450,000,000 on technology over the next five years.
Where does this $84 million dollars a year for technology come from? According to the district, $33 million dollars comes from the general fund and $55 million comes from the 1998 bond money.
The district did not indicate when they began to bleed $55 million dollars a year from the 1998 bond money to supplement the annual technology budget. You remember the 1998 bond issue you voted for, placing an additional tax burden on yourself, to build new schools and improve facilities. There was never a mention of using the money for technology. In fact, in 1998 it would have been illegal to do so.
This is the same bond money the district says is now not available to replace portable classrooms with permanent structures at West Tech on the west side of Las Vegas. That money is now not available to make structural improvements at Boulder City High School. That money is not now available to bring physical education facilities to an equitable level with the rest of the district in rural schools.
However, $55 million of that bond is available to provide state of the art technology for the Human Resources department, as well as Ipads for students and administrators. Two years ago the district spent a million dollars making sure that each administrator had an Ipad. In the fall of this school year the district spent $800,000 on one of the largest Ipad textbook programs in the nation. The district is now contemplating spending one million additional dollars to provide tablets and netbooks for students at five middle schools.
Anyone see a step missing here? You now have administrators with Ipads, and students with Ipads. Where are the Ipads for the teachers who must teach the students who have them?
Do not misunderstand me. I am not a Luddite raging against the machine. I am presently writing this column on a laptop. I am envious of those who have Ipads, and even though I cannot justify having one, I really want one. I truly believe there is a place for technology in the classroom.
However, when a district continually pleads poverty to a point that it refuses to pay teachers, keep promises made to secure bond issues, to allow students to dwell in portables because they are from areas that are less influential politically and financially than some, and not make upgrades to classrooms where needed, one must question the spending of hundreds of millions of dollars on frills in education.
While all technology may be desirable, not all technology is necessary. Give me a good teacher with a piece of chalk and teaching will take place. Let me amend that, take away the chalk, just give me the good teacher and teaching will take place.
When it was pointed out that the district budget was short $64 million dollars and the question was asked where the additional $65.1 million dollars would come from for this technology, district officials explained it would not need new money. The $65 million would come from a reallocation of funds. Does anyone else see a similarity between the $64 million dollars the district hopes to not pay the teachers over the next two years and the $65.1 million needed over the next five years for the enhancement of a technology program that already spends $84 million dollars a year? Just curious.
No one asked me but… Scandal ridden presidential terms are not new. Let me direct your attention to the Harding administration in the 1920’s. Warren G. Harding is the poster boy of corrupt presidential terms.
There is a great deal of similarity between President Harding and President Obama even though Harding was a Republican and Obama is a Democrat. Both men were in over their heads. Neither had the experience needed to run the office and control the powerful men around them.
While the GSA and the Secret Service scandals is an eyesore for the American people, the scandals are not really the issue. Yes, I too am not happy that the GSA officials are partying on my dime. It is disheartening that young Secret Service agents are caught using the services of hookers in Columbia. The bright side of both issues is that one might see the GSA trip to Vegas as part of the stimulus program. No pun intended. One might find it commendable that young men are watching their expense accounts that are paid for by the American people.
I am a little more concerned about a story that has received very little press. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spent a late evening dancing and drinking at Cafe Havana, a bar described by the Lonely Planet travel guide as the perfect location to “shake your rump.” The guide explains the venue “turns into an all-out salsa throw down after 11 pm that carries out into the street.”
Don’t get me wrong, I have been known to throw down a couple of extra diet Pepsis after a bad day. But I am not the Secretary of State, the third most powerful person in the nation. There is a dignity to the office that needs to be maintained. I guess we can feel lucky that she wasn’t picked up by one of the young men partying while on the presidential protection mission.
While these are issues that raise questions about corruption and a lack of moral standards amongst this administration, the real issue is one of leadership and control. Men like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Harry Truman understood how important it was to control the egos and actions of the powerful men around them. Men like Warren G. Harding and George W. Bush did not, and Barrack Obama does not. Therein lies the danger for America.
Thought of the week…I have no trouble with my enemies. I can take care of my enemies in a fight. But friends,…they’re the one who keep me walking the floor at nights!”
– Warren G. Harding