By John Rajcic
The foundation of a free society is education. It is axiomatic that every student deserves a good school.
It is also self-evident that parents want their children in an excellent school. This is one reason why houses in a good school district or near a good school sell first at a better price.
Hardly a day goes by when it is not said, “schools should be run like a business.” The public school is not a business. This is not to say good business practices should not be incorporated into the system.
The accounting system in schools in comparison to a commercial enterprise may be instructive. School districts use a Fund Accounting system that emphasizes balancing the accounts and ACCOUNTABILITY, not PROFITABILITY. Further, the impact of market forces are not a direct factor.
Revenue is given to the public school; it is not earned. Public schools are a government enterprise that basically have no significant competition.
How much should it or does it cost to teach reading to a child? No one seems to know! Schools are designed to offer programs with no significant taxpayer input. Mandates from the state and federal government to a large extent dictate what programs are offered. State colleges and universities also dictate what courses students must take to matriculate. Board members work around the margins in slanting programs toward the needs of Ramona students.
The word “accountable” is elusive in education except for the students who are graded and accountable. It is hard for me to imagine a more stupid way of making decisions than to place decision-making authority in the hands of people who pay no price for making bad decisions.
Determining profit or loss may not be the purpose of the school district’s accounting system, but schools need to show they produce “added value.” In education we could say that “added value” is the public’s perception of the school’s performance. Objective indicators of school success in reaching its goals may be test scores, dropout rates, graduation rates, getting a good job after graduation that has advancement possibilities, and the percentage of students qualifying for entrance into the state universities.
“This might be called the age of genius machines, and it will be the people who work with them that will rise. One day soon we will look back and see that we produced two nations, a fantastically successful nation, working in the technologically dynamic sectors, and everyone else. Average is over.” (Tyler Cowen)
This is a clarion call for the community to get involved, attend workshops, ask questions, analyze, compare and determine what the school’s present and 21st Century needs are and should be. Everyone is challenged to do better.
An attitude of apathy and saying, “I can not make a difference,” must subside and people must get involved. Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference. Again, this is a call to get involved and let your voice be heard.
Public opinion is everything. With public opinion, nothing can fail. Without it, nothing can succeed.
John Rajcic is a Ramona resident and school board member who stresses that this is his opinion as an individual and he is not representing the board.