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Everything Counts

Budget I$$ue$

Money, It's A Crime...

Put on your headphones and your thinking cap, turn up the volume, grab your popcorn and favorite beverage, and enjoy two of Pink Floyd's classics while you enjoy this XPsych ClassiX from 2009! 

Good morning,

An Open Letter to President Obama

Does it work?

"The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small,

     but whether it works... if the answer is, 'no,' programs will end."

           President Barack Obama, January 20th, 2009 

Dear Mr. President,

In your inaugural speech, President Obama, you asked the correct question, "does it work?" I thank and commend you for asking the correct question, but merely asking a good question is the easy part.

It is relatively easy to ask and even to determine what programs are and aren't working -- the hard part is to actually end the program if/when it isn't working. The vast majority of the public are already highly aware which programs are and aren't working, yet the big failing programs just somehow keep on existing year after year, apparently forever. The XOG asks you, Mr. President, to follow through with your promise... if programs aren't working please end them. It is time for dramatic and revolutionary change now because these programs and entities have proven over a long period of time they will never change from within and will not evolve in a manner that will, uh, ever work... and they are breaking the bank, or maybe I should say they broke the bank.

"Revolution is an extension of evolution...,

      evolution is a gradual naturistic change that after a long period of time leads into revolution,

which is quick change."

Dick Gregory 

Now that the ground has shifted, the time may be is right to proceed. I call it "revolution," you call it "reform." We can call it whatever, but if you and I are both recommending that big, bloated, ineffective, federal education programs need to end, then it's the same concept.

Actually, this revolution isn't really a choice for any of us any more. The only real choice is whether we (nurture) will end the programs or if they will crumble and fall on their own (nature), a process that has already begun. Bailouts, politics, and rhetoric can only put off the inevitable for so long.

"Revolution always has and always will be controlled by nature."

      Dick Gregory 

The next section addresses educational programs that aren't working and need to end. These are the top seventeen priority cuts leading toward positive educational reform. Unfortunately, there is not time or space here to adequately address the hundreds of other governmental agencies and programs in need of similar significant changes, although, just for fun, three BONUS programs that need to also go have been included.

"If everything in education was working fine, you wouldn't hear a peep from me."

     Don Asbridge

I appreciate your support for education with proposed increases in funding in the proposed budget ... but I hate to be the one to tell you that there is very little correlation between high quality education and funding. In fact, the more money spent (i.e., intrusion) by Washington D.C., it seems the lower we sink.

How much more of Washington's "help" can this nation stand?

Please follow through on your promise to save the taxpayers billions of dollars and help improve education by cutting programs that don't work.

Respectfully yours,

Donald J. Asbridge, Ed.S.

17 Federal Education Programs That Need To G

"The best government is that which governs least."

     Henry David Thoreau

1. No Child Left Behind (NCLB)

Let us begin with the most urgent priority. Is there anyone outside of Texas and Washington D.C. who thinks NCLB has worked? As far as I can tell, all it has accomplished is failing thousands of schools and millions of children. It's driven who knows how many hundreds of thousands of outstanding professional educators from the field and prevented who knows how many others from entering the field. We must come to realize that children and all humans are much more than a test score. I understand there has to be some big federal educational bill by whoever our current educational president is (because that's the way we've always done it), but Mr. President, if you would like some ideas on how we can change it from an ineffective punishing model into an empowering positive model that works, please feel free to consult with me any time.

Here's one free idea right up front... instead of spending billion$ on the lowest performers, many who don't even want to be in school, we could invest in, reinforce, and reward those who choose to be the best performers. Excellence (not mediocrity or the student's socioeconomic status) would be valued.

"And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands

of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do."

President Barack Obama, January 20th, 2009

President Obama, I hate to be a bummer here, but the schools are not being transformed to meet the demands of a new age -- the schools are being transformed to score better on tests. You can either set your goals to meet the demands of a new age, or you can set your goals to turn students into better test-takers, but you can't do both.

As per edweek, Arne Duncan is trying to help states get out of this NCLB mess...

New Details Emerge on Duncan's NCLB Waiver Plan 

(July 15th, 2011) "It's been about a month since U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced that, since Congress wasn't making significant progress on reauthorizing the current version of the Elementary and Secondary Education [sic], he would step in and offer waivers to states from parts of the law..." 

Let's take a closer look...

Fiscal Year 2012 Budget Summary -- February 14, 2011

The interested reader should peruse this page. I noticed a lot of, um, things right off looking at this page, like the fact that most of the funding goes to disadvantaged students -- why not fund a great education for everyone? You are very smart... go to this page and look through it... you don't need me to interpret it for you -- how many billions would you slash from the proposed 2012 federal education budget?

2. Special Education

Special education was a noble experiment, but it has been broken for a long period of time. If a child has a true disability then his or her needs could be met through the ADA/Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 just like everywhere else except in the make believe world of education. I'm a taxpayer and I ask why we have to have not one, but two, huge federal programs to protect and serve students, many who have been misdiagnosed with invented disabilities.

For further detailed information review my past award winning work:

"Is it time to drop special education?"

It's not just me... ask the next hundred people you see walking down the street. Ask parents how well special education is working for their child. Ask general education teachers. Ask the students, who are the real experts in their own lives. Ask the school secretary, who is the person who really runs the school. Here's what principals have to say:

"Student outcomes... Regardless of state or federal mandates, schools need to change the way they address academic problems. More than 25 years of special education legislation and funding have failed to demonstrate either the cost effectiveness or the validity of aligning instruction to diagnostic classifications. Placement in special education programs has not guaranteed significant academic gains or better life outcomes for students with disabilities. Time consuming assessments that are intended to differentiate students with disabilities from those with low achievement have not resulted in better instruction for struggling students." (1)

Principal Leadership Magazine, Vol 5, Number 4, December 2004

Special education, like so many other programs, will not willingly change from within. There have been various attempts at developing alternative models, the most recent being the failed RtI model; all except one (RWOL) always ending in still another ineffective model to identify, diagnose, and sort children. Children should go to school to receive an education -- not to get a diagnosis.

"Time to drop psychological diagnosis in the schools?"

If you don't believe secretaries, principals, parents, teachers, students, advocates, lawyers, me, or the next person walking down the street, how about the Past NASP President, Kevin P. Dwyer?

by Kevin P. Dwyer, NCSP, Past NASP President and recipient of the NASP Lifetime Achievement Award, in the November, 2006 NASP Communiqué (page 36): "Rights Without Labels cannot be just a position paper. It must be a living, working, ethical document shaping the practice of school psychology... Together, nationally, and in each state and community, we need permanent structures to evaluate ourselves and our work to ensure improved outcomes for all... We have a national crisis... Who among us will move to instituting 'Rights Without Labels'?"

Please Mr. President, drop special education now. It is the right thing to do. No one would have to lose their jobs... children will still need someone to teach them reading... children will still need someone to help them with real life difficulties...

$11.7 billion for Special Education Grants to States, an increase of $200 million, to continue paying for a significant share of State and local costs of improving educational outcomes for children with disabilities. The request would provide an estimated average of $1,765 per student for about 6.6 million children ages 3 through 21 (from 2012 Budget Summary).

3. English As A Second Language/English Language Development

It seems like a nice thing to do to teach English to non-English speaking children. We want to help, right? But such services almost always become available only to Spanish-speaking children -- excluding those who may speak any number of other languages. Much research has suggested that English immersion is just as effective, if not more so, than any other method of acculturation, learning, and socialization... and millions or billions of dollars cheaper for the taxpayer.

We could all just speak English in the schools.

Research from the Center on Instruction at the University of Houston states that ESL children who struggle with reading struggle with reading for the same reasons that any other child who is struggling with reading is struggling with reading -- not because of a second language. In other words, ESL children need effective reading instruction, just like every other child -- not a high-priced federal program to teach them English.

"ELLs need early, explicit, and intensive instruction in phonological awareness and phonics in order to build decoding skills. Having English as a second language does not necessarily result in difficulty acquiring word-reading skills. In fact, the great majority of ELLs in the primary grades develop word-reading skills that are commensurate to those of their native English-speaking peers... [at risk ELLs] are learners who -- like their native English speaking peers with early difficulties -- have trouble 'cracking the code'."

$750 million for a reauthorized English Learner Education program that would provide grants to help States and LEAs meet the needs of the growing population of English Learners and ensure that these students reach the same college- and career-ready goals for reading and mathematics as other students. Under the reauthorization proposal, States would be required to improve their systems for identifying and serving English Learners and to evaluate the effectiveness of local English language instruction programs to support program improvement. The request also includes competitive grant funds to develop innovative programs, identify promising practices, conduct evaluations, and scale up effective instructional practices (from 2012 Budget Summary).

4. Migrant Education

Americans could still be polite hosts to visitors in our country for free, couldn't we? 

$445 million for Title I Migrant Education and Neglected and Delinquent State agency programs to help meet the educational needs of approximately 537,000 children of migrant agricultural workers and to help an estimated 132,000 neglected and delinquent students return to and complete school and obtain employment after they are released from State institutions (from 2012 Budget Summary).

5. Compulsory Attendance

Schools get funding (ADA) when students show up to school. It is also assumed, correctly or incorrectly, that children will learn more when they attend. Thus, there are compulsory attendance* laws.

However, the $67 or so the school gets paid for the angry, unwilling, unmotivated student is often offset by the myriad of costs to the school when s/he actually shows up. Security, discipline, safety, and other costs often simultaneously increase. And not much learning occurs when the student is brought in by the probation officer in handcuffs angry or not ready or willing to learn for a myriad of reasons. And s/he often adversely affects the learning of other students when they are drug in to school in handcuffs kicking and screaming, made to sit down, and, um, "learn," apparently so they're not left behind. Why not let the student and his or her parents make an informed choice and just let that student take a take a day or two off?

If a student gets an F because s/he has missed too much school and has to go to court to be forced to attend in handcuffs, well, if they are that uninvested, then they probably would have got the F even had they attended. Apparently some or many teachers fail 30-90% of the students who do show up... because they are, well, you know, required to provide the mandated curriculum.

We can make a student show up to school every day in handcuffs, but we can't make him or her learn.

"I may make you feel, but I can't make you think."

      Jethro Tull, Thick As A Brick

*Actually, "mandatory education" is probably a more accurate term, but everyone seems to think the kid has to actually attend public school in order to receive an education.

6. School Sports

Under the present budget crunch, some schools are already (i.e., finally) starting to look at cutting some sports programs. I, always way ahead of my time, suggested this consideration/possibility years ago. Had some of those recommendations been implemented then, schools might not be now having to weather such a storm.

Second Place: Stockton Unified Considers Freshman Sports

Originally published April 25th, 2008

by Dominque Rodriguez, Tokay Press

( It is a grim future for the Stockton Unified School District’s freshman sports. With their cancellation looking imminent, what will happen to Tokay’s freshman teams? Due to a $14 billion state deficit, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is proposing nearly $5 billion in cuts to school spending by July. In order to allocate the money as efficiently as possible, Stockton Unified is considering cutting its freshman sports teams. More...

There are hundreds of thousand of reasons (i.e., billions of dollars) why dropping sports from public education is the right thing to do. Peruse or my past ClassiX:

"Time to drop school sports?"

7. Publicly Funded Meals

Why do I have to pay for your kid's breakfast and lunch?

Schools advertise "free" and "reduced" breakfasts and lunches for needy students. These meals may be "free" for students, but not for us taxpayers.

I wasn't able to find exact figures as to how many millions or billions of dollars you and I shell out every taxpaying year to pay for free lunches, but one Kern County high school, along with two other California districts, found a loophole several years back and amazingly reportedly continues to receive $162 per meal served -- an extra $14,000 per year per student -- an extra 12.5 million dollars per year from you, the taxpayer (this is for a district with about 1000 students)!!!

The three districts together in any ten year span cost the state taxpayers nearly $2 billion!!! 

"Money... it's a crime."

Check out this unbelievable story for yourself... I can't believe the taxpayers and legislators have let this go on and on... apparently Schwartzenegger was looking at it at one point but like so many other things, he dropped the ball (read Reform 2003 Style).

Go to California School Funding Review:

"Three sources of money, known in some Capitol circles as the "Three Little Pigs," bring millions to some districts, nothing to others. Their odd histories and rules have even led to tax dollars going to districts that don't qualify for the money."

From that page, click on, "Three Little Pigs:"

Read "Extra Servings" and then think (that's all I ever ask of XOG readers). You always have a lot of choices. If you want, you can say nothing and just continue to complain about our state going broke due to needless funding for education. Or you can courageously speak up like I'm doing.

Wow! $162 for that tuna salad sandwich and chocolate milk. Is that really okay with you?

Fresno Unified School District gets 1 cent per meal.

8. School Transportation

I know there are laws regarding transportation, but then again, there are laws related to every other topic listed on this page. Just because something is a law, does that mean it has to be a law forever? Even if it's not a good law? Even if it's not working?

How much does that fleet of shiny new district buses cost? How much for gas? How much for the drivers and mechanics? By the time the district has driven the student to school and fed him or her breakfast and lunch, there's not much money left to address education. I'm not saying stop transportation, but is there a way to maybe save a few million bucks here and there per district? Maybe the buses, instead of sitting empty during the school day, could be providing public transportation from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Check out how much LAUSD pays in transportation... then compare that figure with their deficit. Gather information from your district.

Maybe if we dropped school sports, the buses wouldn't have to drive everyone to and from the games? Maybe if we quit misdiagnosing so many students, the special education transportation costs would be reduced?

LAUSD Annual Transportation budget: "the total budget of the Transportation Branch is $177.9 million. Approximately 91% of all services are funded by the Student Integration ($81.0 million) and Special Education ($80.2 million) programs. The remaining 9.0%, or $16.7 million, is provided for Other Transported Students (OTS), ROC/ROP Programs, Child Development, Continuation Progras, Community Services and maintenance of other vehicles."

9. Alliances with Mental Health & Other Outside Agencies

Many or most districts and/or county offices contract with outside mental health agencies to provide "services." I would never deny services to anyone -- if a child has a DSM disorder (which is of course, highly questionable to begin with), then his or her parents should take the child to the local mental health center and obtain services as appropriate. If the services are effective, then the child will return to school the next day ready to learn.

But the districts and/or counties (i.e, you, the taxpayer) pay for the alliance with the agency. Oftentimes, if/when the student is referred for these comprehensive mental health services, the parent and/or their insurance still has to pay for the therapy (that means these services are being payed for twice, a phenomenon commonly referred to as, "double-dipping")!

If mental health services for students were working, I'd be all for it, but the end result is we have found ourselves in a new therapeutic state at the mercy of big pharmaceutical companies... and you, the taxpayer, are paying for it. Let me repeat that -- YOU are paying the schools to refer students to get on drugs. Think about it.

Be careful what you ask for.

Amazingly, clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, and the mental health lobbyists have apparently convinced current administration to budget $5.9 million to integrate mental health into the schools (from 2012 Budget Summary).

From, "and (3) improve student's mental health and well-being through expanded access to comprehensive services, such as counseling, health, mental health, and social services."

Go to your favorite search engine and type in, "Integration of mental health into the schools." 84,700,000 hits on Yahoo! Sounds like there's a lot of money there to be made! I guess I'm just beating a dead horse. Soon we'll have 25% of the population disabled, with you know, ADHD and Aspergers... Oh well, you get what you ask for. Here are just a few of the returns in case you're still interested...

In real language (IRL), "comprehensive services" means: we are bringing the clinical model into the schools so children can be [mis]diagnosed with ADHD, Aspergers, Vaginismus, and other invented "disabilities" so the child can be placed on medications (making big pharma even richer) and provided a lifetime of anger management, therapy, and at an ever increasing rate, ECT (thus, providing a lot of jobs for these people).

Start expecting even more "national depression screening days."

Start expecting recent high school graduates, employed by mental health, to flood into the schools and begin providing "interventions."

Please President Obama... I know you mean well, but be careful what you ask for.

How many more children must the clinical field disable in order to make money??? 

10. [Certain Aspects of] Technology

Students need to advance in modern computer technology for them and the U.S. to compete and survive in the world. I'm all for current, state-of-the-art computer access and training for students.

But many districts pay for a district webmaster. Why not have just one webmaster run one site for all the districts in each county? Why does each school district have to have it's own cool website run by one webmaster, especially since the website is hardly ever developed by students?

School webmaster, usually called the technology department, is a pretty cool position. I wouldn't mind having it. You'd get to sit at the computer all day and develop cool web pages with neat gifs and jpegs -- often while receiving a full-time salary! Wow! If there was ever a problem with a staff members' computer, you'd send one of your techies to check it out.

Additionally, other school staff sometimes need computers to perform their jobs too, but almost always their needs could be met by having one or two centrally located computers rather than each and every staff member having a shiny computer always there on the desk. With fewer centrally located computers, staff members would check their e-mail once a day rather than every five minutes and they would probably spend, uh, less time surfing the internet and more time working with students. And millions could be saved for the taxpayers.

I use a computer a lot in my role as a professional educator, but when you boil it all down to the essentials, the only thing I really have to have a computer for is to write mandated reports (that no one will ever read), and maybe check my e-mail once a day. It wouldn't be that horrible if psychologists didn't write these reports and instead spent their time working with real students to help resolve real-life difficulties. If so, you the taxpayer, wouldn't have to buy me not one, but two shiny new computers.

11. Drug & Alcohol Resistance Education (DARE)

Is there any research that shows DARE works? If it worked, drug use in America would, um, be reduced, right? How much do the taxpayers pay for the police to come into your child's school to threaten educate them? As far as I can tell, DARE has been about as effective as the national "War On Drugs" campaign. How much have the taxpayers paid for that one? And why do the taxpayers keep voting for more police anyway? 

Okay, we all know not to believe everything we read, especially at Wikipedia. But peruse the following page and think. It's not like the DARE pages give any specific information regarding their funding and effectiveness... I know, I checked. You should check too.

Per wikipedia, "In 1998 the DARE program failed to meet federal guidelines that they be both research-based and effective thereby disqualifying them from receiving federal grant money. To date they have not met those guidelines."

That should be the end of the story, right? But not so fast!

"D.A.R.E. America is funded largely as a crime prevention program working through education within schools. It receives funding from the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of State, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Bureau of Justice Administration, U.S. Office of Justice and Delinquency Prevention [that means you and I, the taxpayers, pay for a lot of it], corporations, foundations, individuals and other sources. In addition, state training and local programs typically receive funding from state legislature appropriates, state agencies, counties, cities, school districts, police agencies, individuals, and community fund raisers and other sources."

The XOG encourages you to visit the wikipedia site. There is quite a lot of research cited there. Here is just one example:

"1992-Indiana University. Researchers at Indiana University, commissioned by Indiana school officials in 1992, found that those who completed the D.A.R.E. program subsequently had significantly higher rates of hallucinogenic drug use than those not exposed to the program." Well, that's interesting.

DARE seems to be kind of like the kids' version of the U.S. War on Drugs, which is just as profoundly ineffective.

Obviously the education department isn't paying for this program, but the taxpayers are. And this program occurs in the schools. Please just stop it now. Get the police out of education -- the police need to be protecting and serving and, um, you know, rounding up criminals, shooting them, tazing them, beating them, or incarcerating those who enjoy living life...

12. High Stakes Testing

It is a given that some form of assessment is a fundamental and necessary component of education -- it always has been and probably always will be. A student's self-assessment based on his or her perceptions (phenomenology) is often the most important type and the purpose of assessment should always be to determine what needs to occur next in the positive lifelong process of learning. Assessment should always relate to the student's individual choices and actions toward his or her pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness (and, well, grade in math I guess).

On the other hand, modern high-stakes assessment costs the taxpayers billions, makes big corporations rich, results in lost jobs, failing schools, reduces the student to a mere test score, and takes time away from students that could have instead been spent learning and growing. Modern high stakes testing under NCLB is a punishing model resulting in districts being sorted and professionals losing their jobs. There is so much pressure, cheating is quite obviously rampant. The only apparent motivation for most of us in education to earn high scores is that you might not lose your job for another year.

I'm 100% for accountability. Every employee in every field needs to be accountable and responsible for their actions. But the powers that be seemingly have great difficulties telling the difference between "accountability" and "punishment."

Here's an example of accountability: "Your student received low test scores so we're going to do everything we can to help support you and the entire school to help bring the student's test scores up."

Here's an example of punishment: "Your student received low test scores so you're fired."

Because assessment can potentially help students, I'm willing to compromise. Take three days a year and test all students nationwide on the same test. Use the information to compare America's progress with other nations so we can make positive decisions on a national level. Share the results with local districts and schools so they can use the information to make positive decisions on a local level. Share the results with the students and parents so they can make positive decisions.

Then get on with the rest of education and life.

Ultimately, I guess I'm saying three days, rather than three weeks, should be adequate for all involved to make a lot of mon -- make great educational decisions for students. 

"Our schools fail too many."

President Barack Obama, January 20th, 2009

President Obama, our schools fail too many because schools are following your educational policy (it used to be GWB's policy, but you apparently and unfortunately took it on as your own. I thought you were going to change things -- that's why I voted for you).

13. Prison Gear ("Safe Schools")

How many drug-sniffing dogs, security guards, probation officers, disciplinarians, surveillance cameras, walls, fences, gates, bullet-proof windows, in-school suspension rooms, solitary confinement cells (time-out rooms), involuntary drug tests, searches, etc., should the taxpayers have to pay for? Schools aren't prisons (at least they didn't use to be).

As a parent, I received the above letter in 2009 notifying all parents that drug-sniffing dogs will now be utilized in the Kern High School District. I was notified that my child shouldn't have too many, if any at all, expectations of privacy.

I was going to call and ask how much this decision would cost the taxpayers during these tight economic times but I was too depressed. And, when you think about it, why should any adult expect that his or her child should have privacy rights when no one else does?

Apparently KHSD teachers and staff, like so many of the rest of us, are being replaced by drug-sniffing dogs?

"Did you trade your heroes for ghosts?"

      Pink Floyd, Wish You Were Here

It's sad and ironic to me how prisons are run like schools and schools are run like prisons.

[Those who work in] prisons seem to think the prisoner wouldn't be there if he just would have received a better education; [those who work in] schools seem to think the student who continues to chew gum and won't tuck in his shirt should be in prison? There needs to be a huge paradigm shift in both institutions.

14. Superintendents & Other Duplicated Services

Some states have one superintendent per county. My county (Kern) has approximately 52 school districts; thus, approximately 52 superintendents. Let's [very] conservatively estimate their salaries at $100,000 (probably more like $200,000) per year. If we had one instead of fifty-two, Kern county alone would save somewhere between $5,200,000 and $10,400,000 per year! How many counties are there in California?

All we really need is one centrally located office in the county with one superintendent.

Take my word for it

My plan: no one would need to be fired. Whenever a superintendent retires or is released by the board due to a, a variety of reasons, just turn those duties over to the county office. It's that simple. The district just saved about $200,000 per year. Within a few years, as each figurehead was released, the change would be complete throughout the county.


School Superintendent Gives Up $800k in Pay

(Yahoo News, August 28th, 2011)

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — Some people give back to their community. Then there's Fresno County School

Superintendent Larry Powell, who's really giving back. As in $800,000 — what would have been his

compensation for the next three years. Until his term expires in 2015, Powell will run 325 schools and 35

school districts with 195,000 students,* all for less than a starting California teacher earns.

"How much do we need to keep accumulating?" asks Powell, 63. 

"There's no reason for me to keep

stockpiling money."

Read the rest at

First, I want to commend Larry Powell for doing the right thing. He should be an inspiration to the rest of the superintendents around the state. The fact that he was to receive $800,000 in three years tends to support what is being stated in my present letter, eh? In fact, it sounds like the numbers The XOG is suggesting are pretty conservative. California superintendents, go look at yourselves in the mirror and... do the right thing!

I don't want to be a hypocrite. Larry Powell can be an inspiration to me (and you) too! Unfortunately, my paycheck ain't quite the same as a superintendent's and I therefore don't have a stockpile of money with which to work. I'll offer to give back what I can afford without going broke: five days a year. Presently I work a 195 day per year contract... I'll give five days per year back to the taxpayer... heck, I'll offer ten days. What will you do?


There are many other instances of such replication of services and roles throughout counties. For example, there are [approximately] 52 business offices, 52 lead secretaries, 52 human services directors, 52 directors of special programs, etc. Think about that. Most of those positions named don't work directly with students.

It occurs to me that each district has a five-member paid school board. I guess a district has to have a school board... someone needs to get together to expel students and make decisions regarding the calendar and testing dates. Someone needs to approve field trips and, well, you know, represent the district at conferences and cocktail lunches. But maybe counties could develop "regions." For example, one school board for every ten small districts or something?

Every cent counts.

Less is more. 

15. Free Tutoring

Free tutoring really isn't, um, free. It may be free for the student but free tutoring costs the taxpayer billions. Free tutoring is provided for students in failing districts as identified by NCLB; in effect, millions of students are receiving free tutoring. And there is little if any research to support that it works any better than the education each student is receiving each day in the public schools. And these free tutoring programs can be started up by just about anyone and they aren't accountable as public schools are. Wow, what a system.

16. Outside Consulting Agencies

Districts (I meant to say, you, the taxpayer) pay outside consulting agencies [very] big bucks in hopes of finding some magic cure to bring their failing schools (as identified by the failing NCLB) back into compliance (i.e., improve test scores). Their methods and message are always the same: "if you were a better teacher, your test scores would improve... if you pay me a lot of money, I'll show you how to be a better teacher -- then you might not get fired. Listen to me, I'm the expert. That will be $25,000."

"You better listen to me because I'm an outside consultant getting paid big bucks by the district..."

I've seen this game played many times by districts but so far I've never seen it work (i.e., I've never seen it actually help students in any way).

Districts so often forget they have the professionals right there on staff who could've solved the problem...

17. Paperwork Reduction Task Force

Here's a fun one. I admit I don't know how much this one cost the taxpayers -- I bet it was more than $1.00 though. It is a program that came along with the recent IDEIA reauthorization that may still be going on or in fact may be over now... it was a 3, 4, or 5 year program with 10, 12, 13, 14, or 15 involved states or something like that. The recommendation of this paperwork reduction task force is/was... you guessed it, to reduce paperwork!

I don't know about anyone else, but at this point in time I have more [unnecessary] paperwork than ever before!

How much did the taxpayers pay for this ongoing study and how much [in million$] did it, uh, save?

There you have it! 17 great ways to start balancing the budget and improve education!

Keep reading for three additional bonus ideas.

Good luck President Obama and let me know how I can help further.

Upon your request, I would be happy to come to Washington D.C. to speak with you further regarding education.

+3 BONUS Federal Programs That Need To Go

Let's add three more just for fun... that way we can have an even twenty federal programs!

18. Wars

Per, as of 7:00 p.m. PDT, 08,18,11:

Cost of war in Iraq: $791,699,080,400

Cost of war in Afghanistan: $445,348,042,617

Cost of wars since 2001: $1,237,046,715,194

Gosh. There is a lot more money wasted on war than on education...

The Soviets spent ten years in Afghanistan and it shattered their economy and country. I guess it would have been too much for our country to have foreseen the economic and other consequences of ten years there? Simple common sense would tell the tale but unfortunately our intelligence community is, um, I don't know, underfunded?

Here's what I thinks and recommend: If you just stopped your stupid little wars, there would be plenty of money available for education and the future of America... hmmmmmm...

19. War On Drugs

Per, the failed War On Drugs costs $1,716.77 each and every second of 2011. "The failed war on drugs... has cost $3,797,048,669 since January 1st of this year."

Per, "The failed US War On Drugs Has Met None of Its Goals. After 40 years, the United States' war on drugs has cost $1 trillion and hundreds of thousands of lives, and for what? Drug use is rampant and violence even more brutal and widespread... Even U.S. drug czar Gil Kerlikowske concedes the strategy hasn't worked."

President Obama, don't listen to me -- listen to your own drug czar.

If you don't do anything else, make this speech: "Today I am cutting the failed War on Drugs, a decision which will be saving the American taxpayers $3,797,048,669 or more on and annual basis. As always, I encourage all of you to make great decisions in life and please don't choose to take drugs or substances that might interfere with your pursuit of life, liberty, or happiness. Thank you, good evening, and God Bless you."

If you made that speech, you'd get re-elected in a heartbeat. Let me know if you would like to hire me as a speechwriter.

20. Illegal Immigration

Per Fox News, according to a study conducted by The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), "Illegal Immigration Costs U.S. $113 Billion a Year."

Okay. There are a lot of [estimates] out there -- some more and some less than the number articulated above. But all of the estimates reflect a staggering amount of monetary and human suffering costs.

I am 100% for legal immigration... 100% against illegal immigration.

What about you Mr. President? Are you for illegal immigration? Please let us American citizens know. $113 billion seem like a lot of money to me...

Contact the White House

"President Obama is committed to creating the most open and accessible administration in American history. To send questions, comments, concerns, or well wishes to the President or his staff, please use the form [provided]" You are brilliant... I don't have to tell you what to do. 

Programs, Not People

Okay, here's the trillion-dollar question: how to cut programs without cutting people.

I admit I don't have the answer [yet], but I keep thinking about it.

Let's just brainstorm for a minute... we'll think out loud:

Soldiers could still be in the military even if there wasn't a war being waged?

Psychologists could still help students with real-life problems even if there wasn't special education?

Teachers could still help students learn to read even if there wasn't special education?

Athletes could still end up in the pros even if there wasn't a middle school basketball program?

Parents could provide lunches for their children?

We could all just speak English in the schools?

Students could just call the police if they need free advice on drugs?

We could all just be polite to visitors to our country for free?

Mental health could still prescribe meds from their clinics without being paid to come into the schools?

Legal citizens could attend college without the Dream Act?

We could drop programs that aren't working?

Humans could just make the choice not to take drugs?

Humans could just make the choice to take drugs?

Students could study in school rather than waiting for their three hours of free afterschool tutoring/playtime?

We could put human rights ahead of property rights?

Remember, President Obama, you promised ineffective programs would end... does that mean millions of people will lose their jobs too? As per the 2x2 factorial below, there are only one of four possibilities:

  1. Programs and people are both cut;
  2. Programs are cut but people are kept;
  3. Programs are kept but people are cut; or
  4. Programs and people are both kept. 

XPsych is for option #2.

Maybe Washington D.C. could just get out of the education business and allow true local control. I was never a Reagan fan, but he tried to eliminate the USDE... too bad he didn't, but you could. Let the schools (i.e., the educators, not the politicians) make the educational decisions...

I know what my students need a lot more than someone sitting 2,500 miles away in an ivory tower does.

I don't know... I'm guessing there are people in the upper echelons of federal government a whole lot smarter than me (I hope so) who maybe could find a solution if they cared enough to put their mind to it?

Programs, not people.

About this ClassiX

Originally published as one of the final KOGs in 2009, it was republished as the first XOG. Still as pertinent as ever, it is now, as of April 27th, 2012, officially an XPsych ClassiX!

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