Real issues ignored because of budget mistakes

Monday, April 19, 2010

It's an obvious irony when the folks in charge of providing an education for our children can't do math, but it's an outrage when good teachers who actually deliver the education lose their jobs because of those mistakes.

North Platte has been dealing with just such a situation, having been shorted $750,000 in state aid it should have received next year, a total $2.5 million reduction in state aid, expected to require a reduction in force.

That shouldn't be necessary now, however, local officials having met with the state to partially restore the lost funding.

Imagine the uproar in Washington D.C., where firebrand chancellor Michelle Rhee has admitted that the budget numbers she used to justify laying off more than 200 teachers last fall were in error.

The reformer -- who once fired the principal at her daughter's school -- was ready to announce a new contract with the D.C. teachers union after more than two years of tense negotiations.

Now, however, she admits that she has known for more than a month that instead of a $46 million budget deficit, the school will have a $34 million budget surplus, throwing the new contract into doubt.

For education to truly improve, good teachers need to be rewarded through mechanisms like merit pay, and administrators need to have the freedom to see to it that bad teachers enter another profession.

Needless controversy over budget mistakes only provides a distraction from the real issues.

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