Education and all things related to it appear to be in the forefront of most discussions in the news lately. From our local Board of Education and County Commissioners, to the State House in Annapolis, to the hearings and subsequent confirmation of Betsy DeVos as head of the Department of Education under President Trump.
On the local front, the fiscal needs of the school system are high on the list of discussed items. As usual, there won't be enough money in the county budget to fully fund Carroll County Public Schools' basic needs much less the "wish list."
The need to do something about the lack of space at the Career and Technology Center is another thing that has to be decided but at least there are several viable options on the table from which to choose. As with all decisions of this sort there are many things to consider before the final decision is made. There are sure to be many meetings, forums, hearings and the like before that happens but unfortunately the clock is ticking.
The school board also has to tackle the question of how to do the long-delayed redistricting. Again, the groundwork is under way with the current population and enrollment projections already being studied but this clock is also counting down.
As for the state, the recent disclosure that the funds from the casinos which were supposed to supplement the normal budget allocations for education have been used to replace those monies and not as a supplement as was promised in the campaign to allow the gambling palaces in the first place. Looks like an old "bait and switch" to me. That may be a subject for our legislative delegation to pursue vigorously since our county, as well as most of the others, I imagine, could use an extra infusion of cash.
The confirmation of Secretary DeVos, by the never in the history of the country tie-breaking vote of the Vice President, as President of the Senate, has sent shivers down the spines of quite a few education professionals and other supporters of public education. Sadly, it seems that her main qualifications for the position are her large fortune, many significant contributions to the Republican party, and her stated desire to use tax dollars to support non-public schools. The Republican senators, save for one each from Maine and Alaska, toed the party line which led to a tie vote on her confirmation and to the need for the Vice President to cast the deciding vote for confirmation.
Those supposedly intelligent folks failed to consider that DeVos knows absolutely nothing about public education. She never attended a public school. She never sent her children to a public school. It has been reported that she wasn't a member of a PTA, nor did she ever sit on a school board. Teaching was never her profession. With all of that lack of knowledge about the area that her department is in charge of, how can we expect anything favorable to the nation's public schools to come from her and her minions?
I fear that most federal education dollars will now flow to support the private and charter schools that she favors leaving many of the nation's children without the access to them stuck in sub-standard, underfunded, outdated and crumbling schools where overburdened but dedicated teachers are forced to try to educate the youngsters without proper materials. I pray that I'm wrong on this, but I fear that I may be right.