Misdirected anger

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I am writing in response to Doug Stewart’s letter about our school district’s budget. He divides the district’s total budget by its enrollment and uncovers the big secret that the district spends $10,696 per student. He seems to be making the point that this is a lot of money and the district should stop its “constant plea for more money.” He concludes by suggesting that the district do what a private school would do in this situation. Well, we already know what a private school would do; they are charging $20,000 to $30,000 per student and then fundraising millions more from their often wealthy constituency. I am baffled as to how Mr. Stewart reaches the conclusion that our $10,696 is an embarrassment of riches. I hope I see the day when public school funding does become the hefty sum Mr. Stewart imagines. Education is the only tangible hope we have to improve the quality of people’s lives and our society as a whole.

Mr. Stewart goes on to do some more simplistic math and finds that a classroom of 25 students is funded at over $250,000. He has neglected to factor into his formula the need for secretaries, bus drivers, custodians, gardeners, and food service workers, aides for students with special needs, and, yes, even principals. And most observers would concede that a school district needs a superintendent, and a few assistants for such things as human resources, fiscal, maintenance and operations, purchasing, transportation, and some other odds and ends. Oh, yeah, we need phones, lights, and heat, too.

But my real question for Mr. Stewart is this: “Why so much anger directed at us?” Even a cursory glance at recent news would seem to offer so many targets far more deserving of Mr. Stewart’s wrath. Is he at all angry with the 50,000-plus multimillionaires who hid their money in a Swiss bank to avoid paying their fair share of U.S. taxes? Aren’t teachers more patriotic? How about Alex Rodriguez, the very best and highest paid player in baseball cheating to gain further advantage? Don’t our high school coaches set a better example for young people? How about politicians of both parties who routinely sell government access and favor, undermining democracy itself? Don’t our custodians contribute to our society in a more positive way? And how about those Wall Street guys?

Why us, Doug?

Phil Cott

Principal, Webster School