Yep, it’s broken, all right

The state of education today is a sad one. It’s a broken-down, rusted out 1978 Ford Pinto sitting in a garage bay. The hood’s propped up on that long, thin prop thingy that hoods rest on. There are dozens of folks peeking under the hood, kicking the tires and scratching their heads.

A team of fully trained mechanics in the bay are pushing through the rubber-necking crowd trying to get to the Pinto to try as hard as they can to fix it, yet the folks at the cash register won’t stop gawking — and talking — long enough to make the monetary transactions required to fund the repairs.

At Wednesday night’s education forum, six candidates for political office waxed poetic about education.

Education, they agreed, is the state’s No. 1 priority.

Yes, they agreed it’s broken. They agreed the state’s funding formula — created in 1978 (hence the Pinto analogy) is a tad outdated.

The funding formula that’s used in today’s tech-driven, globally diversified school system was developed when “Grease” played on the big screen and the brand-spanking new “Space Invaders” was all the rage. The nation had not yet had a bout with “Pac Man Fever.”

Even more intriguing (or depressing, depending on the viewpoint), the average annual income was $17,000, the average cost of a new house was $54,800 and gas cost 63 cents a gallon, all according to www.thepeoplehistory.com.

Times and finances have changed, yet the funding formula has remained the same.

The six candidates — some of whom are incumbents running to stay seated — seem as frustrated as the rest of us. That’s not encouraging.

At this point, it seems like the broken education system is a byproduct of the broken legislative system.

If most legislators agree that basic education needs to be redefined, then dang it, they should get it done.

No more excuses, folks. You know what’s right.

Put aside your petty disagreements, party politics and the verbal tactics used on playgrounds everywhere. Let’s be adults here.

For the candidates to say local school districts, parents and PTAs at the local level should create a definition based on specific needs is a pipe dream. True, in a perfect world, that’s the ideal scenario. But the truth is, those at the local level can have specific ideas as to what education should be, but the state and its mandates would override any local definition.

In this imperfect world, local school districts get their funding from the state and that money comes with strings attached.

So for candidates to push this responsibility off to the local school districts is just passing the buck. And, as is evident from the state of that rusted out 1978 Ford Pinto, that’s not working.

There’s also a second piece to the puzzle. Parents, too, need to take responsibility for their children’s academic futures.

Parents need to hover over their children to make sure children do their homework and get away from the television and computer screen once in a while. And parents need to be vocal to the local school boards and get involved in various committees and PTAs.

And, if your child has special needs, it’s up to you to work with the school system to do what’s best for your child.

We’re all in this together.

And everyone has to do their share to bring that rusted out Pinto back to life.

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