Thursday, December 9, 2010

Public money for me, but not for thee

One of the chief arguments against giving parents more options is that "public" money shouldn't go to "private" organizations. So school officials go to great lengths -- even to the point of willfully violating state law! -- to ensure that no public money goes to a private organization that could help a special-needs child, even if that child has been reduced to tears and thoughts of suicide because of being harrassed daily in a public school, beaten by classmates with nunchucks, and shoved against a wall by a substitute teacher. Some hills are worth dying on, you understand: No public money for private organizations.

Unless, of course, those private organizations help to enrich high-paid executives and union lobbyists. Then public money is okay. Or unless those private organizations happen to be high-priced law firms. As Broken Arrow Ledger executive editor William Swaim writes,
Far too much of education money is being spent to pad attorneys’ pockets. I wonder how we squabble over a few thousand dollars leaving the school (HB3393) when at the same time paying law firms a few hundred thousand dollars each year?

Tulsa Public Schools, unfortunately, are paying nearly $700,000 each year (to Rosenstein, Fist & Ringold), up almost $300,000 from a few years ago. BA is trending upward too in its six figures leaving the school. When you start to get into six figures, it’s time to really look at cost vs. benefit. ... You will get very little sympathy if you continue to pay these astronomical rates ($250/hour) without exploring more viable options.

Bottom line: No public money for private firms that help children; lots of public money for private firms that enrich grown-ups.

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