Striking fear not the solution to proration

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 9, 2001

Cut programs and close small schools. That’s the fate for Alabama’s public education system if new funding isn’t secured, a state official warns.

The state Superintendent of Education on Friday warned that public schools may need to halt sports, band and other extracurricular activities to cut costs.

Speaking at the Alabama Association of School Boards meeting in Hoover, Ed Richardson warned that programs which don’t pay their own way may need to be cut from many districts if state funding is cut again.

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Saying that school officials "have their backs against the wall," Richardson’s recommendations took the impact of proration to a new extreme ­ and to one we suspect may have been a bit politically inspired.

Richardson’s comments came shortly after Gov. Don Siegelman spoke to the same group urging support of his proposal to cut corporate tax loopholes to raise an additional $160 million for education funding. Siegelman has called lawmakers into a special session to pass the bills, but the proposals are mired in debate.

And what better way to hammer home the dreaded impact of proration that to talk graphically about eliminating band programs or softball or other extracurricular activities that serve children? What better way to spark support for Siegelman’s plan and to put fear in to the minds of educators and parents?

Unfortunately, the resolution to our state’s educational funding woes needs to be reached through consensus, compromise and conviction ­ not fear. And whatever solution we reach ­ including decisions to raise local taxes, if necessary ­ need to be motivated by common sense, not political spin.  

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