In the Cold War of budgetary belt-tightening and “failing” schools, it has become easier than ever to focus on the Grenadas of the educational landscape, because facing the real enemy is too difficult and too expensive.
Of course is this little analogy, the Soviet Union isn’t going to collapse, and no Mr. Gorbachev is going to tear down any Wall.
Still, instead of adequately funding K-12 education, it’s SO much easier to just blame the Superintendent and “bloated administration”. Governor Martinez went after that “low-hanging fruit” in her first State of the State Address, saying she’d seek to cut only 1.5% of administrative education budgets, thus avoiding cuts to the sacred classroom.
The foot soldiers in the easy war can also be seen electronically marching. Stories about extending superintendent contracts in Santa Fe and Albuquerque are greeted with mouth-foaming rabidity by commenters certain that it’s all the superintendent’s fault.
What a load of crap.
Of course supers and other school administrators have always been lightning rods for criticism on a par with Italian soccer referees, but the anti-administrative blood sport has lost all touch with reality at this point. Governor Martinez seems to think all principals make “three to four times” the average teacher salary, and that Districts haven’t been cutting well more than 1.5% administratively for years now.
Meanwhile, anybody with a calculator or decent computational math skills can tell you that firing or cutting the salary of five/six egregiously paid administrators still ain’t gonna make a bit of a dent in your typical $40 million shortfall. I throw $40 million out there as the number is constantly changing, and I get confused on which shortfall were on at this point (#4?, #7?).
And the temptation to find such an easy scapegoat is undeniable. I, as a teacher, would love to simplify all my professional problems down to some organizationally distant head honcho making $300,000 a year, and his City Center Twin Towers of Doom filled with bureaucrats.
But the truth is that the Twin Towers are half-full due to cutbacks from previous shortfalls, and the super’s salary isn’t a drop in the bucket compared with all the shortfalls now and to come.
The proper funding of K-12 education in New Mexico, and around the country, is the real adversary here. But who wants to take that Soviet Union on? Who’s ready to pay for that “Sputnik Moment”?