Another scintillating opinion piece from the IR today, this time waffling mightily about education funding in Montana. The esteemed writers of this piece have concluded, no doubt after an extensive scientific survey, that Montanans believe that education funding disappears into a black hole in Montana:
Politically, the governor is on firm ground. There is a growing perception among Montanans — and not just fiscal conservatives — that school funding is becoming a black hole into which money disappears no matter how much is appropriated. Of course the situation is far more complicated than that, but these days the onus is on school officials to explain their financial plight in ways that both political leaders and the average Montanan can understand.
I love the passivity of the claim about the growing perceptions of Montanans, framed in such a way as to suggest that it’s an organic groundswell of criticism from the public. Perhaps the constant drumbeat from the Right and the media’s willingness to uncritically repeat it might have something to do with that perception, if it’s even true.
More importantly, the IR is engaging in the same kind of demagoguery that the Right has been employing for years. Rather than actually offering specific proposals for financial savings in the schools or critiquing examples of wrongful expenditures, the IR and the Republicans it is channeling are content to offer vague criticism that means nothing.
So, I offer a challenge to the IR and other critics of education. What specific changes would you make to save money?
- Fewer books?
- Fewer teachers?
- Decreased salaries?
- Something else?
We’ll never have real dialogue about education funding in this state until the critics do the ethically responsible thing and propose real changes.
I won’t hold my breath.