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.”