Some people know they don’t have answers to complex problems. Others like to think they do. Still others are trying to figure out what the questions are.
My opinionated agent, I.M Slick, called recently to offer his perspective on the perplexing issue of the budget crisis facing schools and possible cuts to athletic programs.
Slick: Did I hear that Hillsboro schools might eliminate up to five sports to meet the current budget crisis?
Joe: You heard right. Things are looking bleak.
Slick: And I assume you haven’t offered any solutions?
Joe: Well, no. I don’t have any great solutions.
Slick: Why does the Free Press pay you to write a column? Don’t you know by now that no one looks to you for answers? You only need to offer strong opinions.
Joe: What do you suggest?
Slick: Well, let’s get the facts on the table. The Hillsboro school district is talking about doing away with high school baseball, softball, golf, girls’ and boys’ tennis and middle school wrestling in order to save some money. They simply can’t do it.
Joe: Granted, it seems a bit drastic, but money doesn’t grow on trees, and these are drastic times.
Slick: If the federal government had your attitude, it wouldn’t be billions of dollars in debt. Rather than cut sports, the school district should add sports.
Slick: It’s called job security for teachers, my boy. We all know that teachers are overworked and underpaid. We also know you need coaches for all these sports. Although no one makes much money for the time put into coaching, it helps teachers earn a little extra.
Joe: I see your point, although many teachers aren’t interested in coaching. They simply want to teach. I’m all for paying teachers more and funding our schools the best we can, but you’ll have to admit the economy is hurting, which means the source of funding has dried up.
Slick: Maybe so, but schools are going about things the right way. They have a budget crisis so they hold meetings asking for input. But let’s be honest—when push comes to shove, all the citizen input does is show there are no easy answers. The only answer is more money to fund our schools.
Joe: There are fewer holes in Swiss cheese than there are in your arguments.
Slick: Do you know who is ultimately responsible for the current fiscal mess?
Slick: The school district patrons. They keep asking the schools to do more and more. And to do more and more takes….
Slick: Exactly! That’s why schools have the public right where they want it. The public is over the proverbial barrel. And that’s why so many Kansas schools are suing the state. Schools can’t do everything the public wants them to do without more money. And once schools get the money, they’ll ask for more. That’s the American way.
Joe: And you think the commotion about budget cuts is just a smokescreen?
Slick: Bingo. After all, if you’re concerned about the future of our children, you can’t honestly be in favor of cutting educational opportunities, can you?
Joe: Your logic isn’t particularly logical, but I kind of see what you mean.
Slick: Like I said. All you need are strong opinions.
Joe: I didn’t say you were convincing.
Slick: No matter. It’s all about having a strong opinion.
Joe: Well, I don’t know that I have a strong opinion on how to resolve the budget crisis, but I can appreciate the dilemma facing schools. And I do have a couple of wishes.
Slick: What would that be?
Joe: I wish that our school board and administrators would have the wisdom to handle these difficult choices with as much grace as possible. I also hope our students and teachers know that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. I just hope it’s not an oncoming train.