The Five-Year Time Bomb

On my way home from this conference last night, I heard news that dismayed me terribly.  I sat next to a man on the train out of New York who was working as a contractor with one of the richest school districts in New York State.

He and I spoke at length about the nature of schools, how to change and reform them, and how hard it was for him to get anything done.  And he was only a construction guy.  He practically needed to talk to the school superintendent before he could get permission to do anything.

But then he dropped what I thought was a dreadful awareness into my lap.

“Of course, I’m glad my kids will graduate in the next year or two. There’s a real mess five years from now.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“Our town has turned down funding authority for school bond issues several times over the last few years. The school doesn’t have the money to repair their buildings, much less update them.  And the pension fund isn’t going to last through the next decade.”  He referenced the Harrisburg story, and added, “The unions are shooting themselves in the foot, if not the head, here.  We’re going to cut pre-K through third grade over the next few years if we don’t get a new influx of cash.  And the town is so divided politically that no one can raise the taxes or arrange the bond issue so we get the cash.”

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  1. Dear Mr. Watt,
    What would happen to the other children in pre-k through 3rd? Would they have to be home-schooled? This is why I’m thankful for my school. And I hope theirs gets better

    • I’d like you to think about that, Maggie, and tell me (or leave an answer here) about what you think would happen.

      More often than not, the goal of studying history is to be able to develop the capacity to guess at what people will do in the future, and how their choices will play out. So if you can think how this choice, of this community, will play out, you may have some insight which will cause people to read you more often. If you turn out to be right, time after time, you will develop quite a following of people.

    • Dear Mr. Watt,
      I think that they would have to be homeschooled until the age of 15 considering the law in the U.S. that you need to be 16 to cut school. But because of the lack of money in the area, I am not sure how they would pay for the supplies. Some families would obviously findan education more of a necessity than others. If they are able to afford the internet they could use that. Depending on what happens between now and then, I think they would either go to an online school or get homeschoooled.

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