As if on cue, the morning after yesterday's Ozarks Angel post about how a Washington, D. C. political action group is supplying talking points for Republican politicians on education "reform", our esteemed boy-governor Blunt stepped right up and submits a News-Leader guest editorial that parrots virtually every point we wrote about last night. How wonderful it must be to have other people do your thinking for you.
As predicted, Blunt spoke of supplying 65% of funding "directly to the classrooms", and then went to bat for raising teacher salaries, which he called, presumably with a straight face, "the most important part of any school district's budget". Blunt then went on to describe how appalled he was that Missouri teacher salaries are ranked 44th in the U. S.. (If you can find a Republican governor or legislator who has called for teacher salary increases in the last 25 years, I'll buy you lunch.)
Last night I wrote that this 65% solution aims to pit teachers against administrators and teacher organizations. Blunt obligingly says "as pay for teachers lags, pay increases for administrators have been nothing short of massive . . . the average Missouri superintendent has received three times the additional compensation that has been found for teachers . . . I certainly value the work of superintendents," Blunt writes, "but I value teachers more."
You can see that the governor is going directly to the voter with these arguments and is likely to get little, if any, support from school boards and administrators.
Let me again excerpt a memo from the Washington, D. C. political action group (First Class Education) that is pushing this proposal:
"With the First Class Education issue on the ballot, Republicans will have a viable answer to 'in the classroom improvement of education' without the need to call for a tax increase, offsetting budget cuts in other popular programs or gimmick accounting and deficit spending." The memo also states that there are other "tangential political advantages," such as pitting teachers and administrators against each other and building support for school vouchers."
Blunt has chosen to call this push "Putting Our Students First". He estimates that cuts in administration, libraries, counseling, bus transportation, janitorial services, cooks and other jobs and services will net over $270 million for the classroom (books, technology, resources and teacher salaries).
And all this without one dollar of additional taxes . . . that's the part that will play well to the GOP faithful here in the 7th district.
There was an excellent editorial rebuttal to Blunt's piece by former Nixa superintendent Terry Reid.