A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. ~Shelby Foote

Monday, June 27, 2005

Racine: Stupidest Place on Earth


I like where I live, I really do. The neighborhood is great, I have a nice piece of property, the house, which was a pile of dingos' kidneys when we bought it, is progressing nicely, and all manner of things are well. Except for my school district, and all of the Racine voters that actually believe the school administrators, which is the worst in the state. Probably one of the worst in the country.

Not the teachers. The ones I've met have been dedicated, professional, and effective. Though their union, on the other hand, is disingenious, bloated, and counter-productive. But that's another story.

We had a referendum last week to see if Racine tax payers wanted to pay an extra $90 per $100,000 in property values. This referendum was to maintain the extra money the tax payers have given the school system for the previous two years. It was the only thing on the ballot, and it came less than three months after a referendum for even more money was soundly defeated back in April. The election cost the county about $25K, and by the county I mean the tax payers, of course, but that's a separate gripe.

Anyway, we received fliers decrying the death of civilization as we know it if we didn't pass the referendum. And I'm only half-kidding. One flier claimed crime would go up if we didn't fork over more money to the schools! I wish I was kidding. Others lamented the darkened stadiums in the fall as sports programs were eliminated. Really, really wish I was kidding.

This to subsidize a school system that has over 70 adminstrators making $100,000+. 74, I believe is the number. You think that $8M+ might come in useful somewhere? This to subsidize a school system that recently paid a consultant $1.2M to ask the teacher's what their dream classroom would look like. $1.2 MILLION! You think that might go a good ways toward bridging our $9 million dollar shortfall this year?

But the voters fell for it. For the "We'll have to cut sports," hysteria and the "We'll have to close schools" fears. For the "Sky is falling!" claptrap that school systems are getting very good at disseminating.

It's not entirely the voters fault. The deck was stacked against the NO voters. With nothing else on the ballot, a lot of the folks that voted NO last time didn't go this time, and the YES voters, who were far more fanatical about this than the NOs, did. There was no organized effort on the NO side to counter the YES side propoganda-- talk radio covered it extensively, but I would imagine that 80% of the folks listening to those programs were going to vote NO anyway. The local paper fell all over itself running article after article on the horrors of not passing the referendum, and the big paper in the area, ie, the Jourtinel, of course backed passage of the referendum.

What a farce. There's $100+ I won't be seeing any time soon.

On the plus side, now that other systems realize that they can get the tax payers to cave by threatening sports and school closings, I'm sure lots of other folks in Wisconsin will be sharing my pain in the near future.

People will fall for anything. Mostly because Statistically, 90% of people are idiots.

That's my new mantra.

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