Dumb and dumber

Damn, damn, damn, the absurd reverence for free markets and privatization about else just really reaches absurd proportions sometimes. Pre-K classrooms in public schools serve two basic populations: 1) special needs (like my son Alex, who had a great class for developmentally disabled kids); and 2) kids from at-risk homes (i.e., poverty, etc.).  Private industry is not exactly jumping up and down to serve these populations.  Alas, count on Republicans to see “privatization” to a problem that does not exist:

A legislative proposal to overhaul North Carolina’s pre-K system would completely privatize pre-K classrooms by the summer of 2013, as well as leave fewer families eligible for state tuition assistance.

The proposal is part of a draft report slated for debate and a potential vote Thursday at the statehouse in Raleigh. It was the result of several months’ work by a Republican-controlled legislative committee reviewing the state’s early childhood programs. Committee co-chairwoman Rayne Brown, R-Davidson, said Friday that she’s not sure whether the report as-is will turn into a formal bill for the legislature, and she called its release this week just the start of a longer process.

Taxpayer-supported pre-kindergarten has long had a waiting list of eligible children who don’t get financial help because the state runs out of money before it runs out of families falling below annual income thresholds. That generates a waiting list, exacerbated this year by a 20 percent pre-K cut the Republican-controlled General Assembly approved to help balance the state budget.

I’m not going to go on too much here.  The evidence is stark and dramatic that one of the very best investments in public dollars is exactly these kind of programs.  It’s a lot cheaper to invest in a 4 year old and help make him successful than to be paying for his prison cell or welfare check years down the road.  Some estimates suggest that these investments pay off at a $10 to $1 ratio.  But this is where Republicans want to cut.  Absolutely breathtaking in its stupidity (and, of course, it’s callousness).


Photo of the day

Big Picture assembled a gallery of photos of life in slums:

Don’t feel bad, though, I’m pretty sure I learned from Fox News that it is their own fault that they are poor.

Another take on Romney’s tax plan

John Cassidy has a nice thorough run-down on Romney’s tax plan released this week.  Given David’s struggles in 6th grade math with negative numbers though, I got a really chuckle out of this part:

If you recall some of your grade-school arithmetic classes, where adding two negative numbers together gave you a larger negative number, you might suspect that cutting taxes for workers, businesses, investors, and dead people would produce a bigger gap between revenues and spending. This is the arithmetic that non-partisan budget experts are using when they estimate that Romney’s tax proposals would cost the U.S. Treasury somewhere between $4 trillion and $6 trillion over the next decade. But it’s also a misleading and unreliable type of arithmetic—according to Romney, anyway. “These changes will not add to the deficits,” he said with an impressively straight face.  “Stronger economic growth, spending cuts, and base broadening will offset the reductions.”

The first part of Romney’s new arithmetic relies on the familiar supply-side argument that cutting taxes encourages people to work harder and save more, which boosts economic growth, which generates higher tax revenues. These things can sometimes happen, but almost never to the extent that Republicans claim. In the absence of detailed projections—his campaign hasn’t supplied any—it isn’t clear how far Romney is exaggerating the impact on growth and revenues of his proposals, but the gap between plan and reality is probably considerable.


NC Republicans:our schools are better than Mississippi!

Great analysis by Chris Fitzsimon on not only the damage the Republican legislature has done to public schools, but the fact that they are actually proud of it:

Here’s a pretty good indication of the state of the debate about public schools in North Carolina. The Republicans and the right-wing think tanks that craft their talking points are now boasting about their figures that show North Carolina ranks 42nd in the country in per pupil spending and that the Republican budget fired 534 teachers and 1,260 teacher assistants.

Those are their education accomplishments, a budget which slashed $460 million from public schools and fired 2,000 people from classrooms across the state…

The NEA report shows that North Carolina education funding was cut $200 per student in the budget passed last summer. But according to the report the state’s ranking in per pupil spending actually increased from 47 to 42 because a handful of other states near the bottom of the rankings, like Mississippi and Texas, cut spending even more.

That might be a catchy slogan for the Republicans in their reelection efforts. “We don’t support public schools, but we don’t not support them as much as Mississippi.”

What’s also really annoying and pathetic is that most of the cuts came not from the state directly cutting teachers, but by slashing appropriations to local systems, which then of course had to get rid of teachers.  The Republicans then ludicrously claim that they didn’t really fire hardly any teachers:

The figures about teachers and teacher assistants losing their jobs are even more misleading. It might be true in actual numbers that 534 teachers and 1,260 teacher assistants were fired, but the number of positions cut is far higher.

Edwin McLenaghan with the N.C. Budget and Tax Center reports there are more 15,000 fewer full-time employees in North Carolina public schools now than three years ago, including 10,872 fewer teachers and teacher assistants combined.  [emphasis mine]

Yikes– that’s a lot of teachers!  But hey, at least I’m saved from that overly onerous 1/2% sales tax addition the Republicans refused to extend.  Every time I get a slice of pizza and soda for lunch and pay $3.97 instead of $4.00, I’m sure that’s a great trade-off for 10,000 fewer teachers.  Yeah Republicans!

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