budget crises, teachers’ unions, and illegal immigration – oh my!

The state of California is in a huge, huge budget crisis right now.  From the little I know about Wisconsin politics these days, it seems that Wisconsin in is a similar situation.  As far as the Golden State goes, their biggest problem is that they’ve been too nice to too many people for too long.  All of this nice-ness has now become unsustainable, so some areas of nice-ness have to be cut.  Of course, all of the people who are used to CA being nice to them are putting up a huge fuss that the government isn’t going to be nice to them anymore. 

Public schools are a bit piece of the pie when it comes to state spending, and they are controlled by the teachers’ union.  I will say this about public schools and teachers’ unions: I taught in public school for two years, and I had no choice about whether or not I wanted to be part of the teacher’s union.  I had no choice about whether or not, as a forced member of that union, they took money out of my paycheck every month.  I witnessed no big horrible behaviors, but a lot of little selfish behaviors on the part of teachers when they complained about how they were being treated.  I know that, even with money taken out of my paycheck every month against my will, I made a boatload of money – with fantastic benefits – as a first-year teacher at the bottom of the salary scale.

I also know that there are a huge, huge amount of hoops that public school teachers have to jump through in order to meet standards/follow the state’s rules/deal with problem kids/follow through on IEPs/and more.  To truly be a good teacher in a public school, you have to work hard, and there are many good teachers in the public schools who do work very hard.  But once a teacher has tenure, that teacher can “coast,” and I witnessed many teachers who were “coasting” during my public school teaching days, too.

Frankly, I think that unions in general are no longer needed as they once were, and frankly, they now cause more harm than good.  However, I also think that this whole business of “standards” that schools are held up to and upon which everything in education hinges is ridiculous.  All this fuss over standards takes the focus off of truly educating students, and it doesn’t allow teachers to actually teach (because they’re spending most of their time preparing their kids for the next round of standardized tests).  I’m not saying there shouldn’t be any standards, but I wish those standards could be achieved like they are in private and parochial schools, which have far better results on test scores but which have less outside forces affecting how and what is taught.

Sadly, that will probably never happen.

As far as California specifically goes, the other big money drain in our state is illegal immigration.  I have no good answers for that issue, especially where kids are concerned.  There are a lot of kids in this state who have no control over what their parents did, who were born here of illegals or who were brought over the border as children by their parents.  In my opinion, I don’t think those kids should be penalized for the actions of their parents; these kids have grown up in America, and this is the only home they know.  For these people, I think that some path to citizenship needs to be created, perhaps involving them donating a few years of their life in service to their country in some way (not necessarily military service, either).  However, I also think that we need to stop this illegal immigration problem from continuing by being serious about tightening up border security.  We can’t change the bad situations that have been created, but we can prevent those bad situations from continuing.

I didn’t vote for the current governor of California, but I must confess that so far I’m pleased at what he’s trying to do.  He’s actually created concrete plans for doing something about the budget deficit in California.  People can argue about whether or not he’s got the right idea, but at least he’s not content to continue the status quo.  It seems like that’s what the governor of Wisconsin is trying to do, too.  CA’s governor is a Democrat, and WI’s governor is a Republican, but both are on a path to be very unpopular with the people whose programs they are planning to cut.  I hope that whatever long-term solutions are eventually decided upon, that both of these governors choose their state’s respective paths because they truly believe that those paths will be the best for their states.

Thankfully, for a Christian, it’s good to know that earth is not our permanent home, and that we have an eternity waiting for us in a perfect heaven.  What a relief that this world is not all there is!