One of the things that vision accomplishes is to integrate ideas from all levels of governmental policy. In small NH towns, there are times when you would think that there was a wall around the town, that no money comes in from other layers of government, and no money flows out, so cutting school funding at that level is the only solution to the tax burden problem. It is almost impossible to even discuss unfunded mandates for special ed, it is like throwing your words into a black hole, they just vanish and we move on. In our town, because so far our school budgets have passed, the town budget, which is much smaller and contributes much less to the property tax assessment, is always under the gun, as a safer place to attack. No kids involved. (Unless you count fire and police, and they seldom get the ax.)
One of the things I really hold against the Republicans who have and still represent our state in Congress is the constant promise to do something about the unfunded education mandates and then somehow not succeeding. They get credit for saying it, apparently.
This is why I believe that we have to change the conversation on education to what we truly value, something that is right there in the NH Constitution but is another phrase that goes into the black hole, “cherishing” education. There was a reason for that, the need for an educated citizenry who could defend their rights through governmental processes. Instead we argue about the right to carry concealed weapons into schools! And that passes for the NH brand of “civil rights.” We don’t need educated citizens to make government work for us if we don’t believe government works, period. We can all carry guns and get what we want and need that way, or something.
The whole picture of what education is for has become skewed, from an educated citizenry to a trained labor force. I would like to think I am more than a money-making machine. I have been, and continue to be, part of my town government, one of those volunteers who does the committee and board work that keeps the town moving forward.