Remember back when it looked like the baseball stadium deal would fall through? That was so much fun. Some people were arguing that we should maybe be spending the hundreds of millions of dollars not on a stadium but on, you know, schools maybe. But other people were all, "The money's not coming from the schools budget, stupid; it's all new revenue."
Well, it turns out the first group was right on. Because while the stadium will be paid for with new tax revenue, the schools are being starved for funding. The current formula increases funding according to inflation each year, but doesn't account for pay raises stipulated in union contracts. Which leads to more cuts every year:
The school system, which has about 61,000 students, established a minimum payment to individual schools to ensure that those with declining enrollments would still be able to provide basic services.So, the obvious question is: with the city experiencing a budget surplus due to the real estate boom, why not fund the schools properly? If you can tax local business to raise hundreds of millions for a baseball stadium, why can't you come up with enough to pay for teachers?
Yet many schools have been unable to provide the services deemed by the system as necessary. According to school officials, 15,472 elementary students attended schools without an art teacher in 2002-03, and 12,000 were in schools without a music or gym teacher.
You could make the argument that the school system is wasteful, and doesn't do enough with the money it already gets. Buuuut... how is withholding the money needed to pay for the minimum number of teachers going to help? All that does is punish the students. Why can't they fix the system whil still funding it properly? Oh, sorry, I forgot... because nobody fucking cares enough to actually fix the problem.
And, just as an aside, for my retarded libertarian friends at the Cato "Kaelin" Institute:
The District spends more per pupil than almost any state in the nation, yet its students perform far below the national average on every measure of student achievement.Yeah, if you think about why that is for maybe longer than 4.3 seconds, you might realize that D.C. consists solely of one expensive-to-live-in urban area, while the states all have at least some less-expensive rural and suburban territory to balance it out. The challenges D.C. faces educating children are markedly different than those faced by any of the states.
Anyway. In a completely unrelated story... completely unfucking related... the stadium cost estimate just went up to $581 million. That's up from the $437 million the Bowtie originally said it would cost. Oh, but it's totally worth it, because the stadium will change the "paradigm of ballparks."
In his pitch to the sports commission, [HOK dude Joseph] Spear said he and partner Earl Santee suggested overarching themes, including taking into account Pierre L'Enfant's design of the city and using glass as a predominant material to suggest the "transparency of democracy."Uh-huh.
OK, I realize that I'm just a layperson, and that I actually know nothing about how government fiscal education policy works. However... it sure looks like the mayor is screwing 61,000 or so schoolkids out of an education so that he can go jetting down to Spring Training (on taxpayer money?) to sign autographs and hobnob with baseball celebrities. Here's the Bowtie (on the right) learning how to throw a baseball:
Wow. I think D.C. may have the whitest mayor in the country; by sheer ironic coincidence, he happens to be black.
Anyway, as the mayor learns to, apparently, throw like a girl, schoolkids get to breathe in the essence of pigeon droppings (really!). But it's all worth it, I suppose, if it means we get to watch the Bowtie try to throw a baseball.
So congratulations, Washington: you just pulled out all the economic stops for a glass-bottom ballpark, and no stops at all for education.
The transparency of democracy, indeed.