Jeff Meadors: Government funds wasted while educations lags

Jeff Meadors

Jeff Meadors

I wonder what public schools could have done with the $835K-plus recently spent by the General Services Administration (GSA) on mind readers and $4 shrimp. These government sycophants spend other peoples' money faster than rising diesel while the U.S. secretary of education insists that he is investing in education.

Goodbye Martha Johnson. Though we hardly knew you at all you had the grace to condone manic spending on the public dole as we wallow in the filth and weakness of $14 trillion debt with 46 percent unemployment for an 18- to 24-year-old demographic now casually referred to as the angry youth.

Unemployed youth in Germany enjoy lower unemployment rates thanks to work-based learning and apprenticeship programs where students spend one-half of each day in business and industry and the other half in academic instruction.

At a time when skills of U.S. college graduates mismatch workforce demands, the impetus grows greater than ever for dollars to support education and youth apprenticeship programs, not mind readers and clowns in Vegas speakeasies for government employees yearning for a Woodstock remake while throating $4-shellfish.

What could public schools do with the $835,000 wasted on a Vegas trip that didn't stay in Vegas? We could fund 14 full-time classroom teachers to produce greater intellectual capital. The U.S. could fund 333,333 full-time teachers with last year's foreign aid and 136,000 full-time teachers with the $8.2 billion spent by the TSA strip searching grandmothers and toddlers in airports.

All the while U.S. student achievement trails Korea, Canada, Sweden and Finland while China tops the globe in reading, mathematics and science with Hong Kong and Korea both in the top six and America absent from the top 16.

Of countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) the U.S. is the only country where 25- to 34-year-olds are not better educated than 55- to 64-year-olds based on 2011 data. OECD countries produce more than two-thirds of the world's goods and services.

Weak support of classrooms translates into diminishing numbers of college-ready graduates and continued weakening of American intellectual capital. There is no other way to do the math. Every international statistic highlights the trending demise of American education concurrent with the constant attack on school system budgets.

Locally, public education will face severe challenges in the 2013 General Assembly given reapportionment and public reaction to the current rankings of U.S. student achievement. Increasingly, Americans are tired of broken schools and are unwilling to fund them.

We have stripped classroom instruction, dental care, and retirement from classroom teachers faster than Mrs. Johnson's crowd laps up beef Wellington.

If intellectual capital is the new line of American defense then we'd better rethink support for classrooms before we all start seeing Russia from our houses. I already see China on my T- shirts.

Jeff Meadors represents District 1 on the Newton County Board of Education. He may be reached at Jeffrey.meadors@gmail.com.