August 13th, 2012 at 2:50 pm

Parade Magazine, which I faithfully thumb through each weekend, has an excellent piece up right now that OTE’ers and everyone else who likes an elegant solution to tough problems will very much appreciate.  No, it’s not Jennifer A’s engagement, though you can read about that up there too.  It this piece on rebuilding America’s schools.

Parade nails the issue right in the intro:

Talk of fixing American education tends to focus on teacher retention, test scores, and graduation rates—but we often overlook an equally serious problem: crumbling, antiquated facilities that are hostile to learning and depressing to the children and teachers who spend many of their waking hours there.

The piece goes on to provide a nice combination of examples of broken school facilities and research on the impact of these environments on learning, including significantly lower test scores in decrepit schools even after you control for family incomes.  Check out the before/after shots and the section on green building.

Finally, note that FAST—Fix America’s Schools Today—is right there on the What-You-Can-Do-About-It page.

There’s not much here about the jobs that a program like FAST could quickly generate, but that’s OK.  It’s just good to see a mainstream publication like Parade take a stand on a great issue like this, one that I suspect resonates loudly with their readers.  It was a big hit in my house!

[Note: Check out this comment from the Parade site: “Community spirit is a WONDERFUL thing, and maybe I missed something in the article, but what about hitting up a bank or corporation? They spend BILLIONS on sports complexes/arenas where fans need to spend a small fortune on tickets and memorabilia to watch over-paid, under-worked “heroes” do their thing? And the billion-dollar companies where the bosses “resign” with million-dollar bonuses? Am I the only person who thinks this way? Is “Extreme Makeover Home Edition” the only way to get anything done?”

The implication is progressive taxation raising more revenue to help fund ideas like FAST and other methods of funding school repair and modernization—e.g., backstopping local bond issuances.  Again, sounds right to me.]

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One comment in reply to "FAST on PARADE"

  1. Joe says:

    Noble in concept but has disaster written all over it in execution. First of all the disconnect with what we pay teachers and staff and the infrastructure is wrong. They are connected and it is all part of the huge expense we currently have for education. Our education budget is NOT underfunded – poor execution certainly but money is not the issue. Schools should be funded and managed locally where the tax base has a direct vested interest in them. Pouring more money to Washington for redistribution would undoubtedly involve political wrangling for “fair share” of the monies. Then, what constitutes infrastructure need in one area (new pool?) would be viewed as an unnecessary or frivolous expenditure in others. Should Washington determine priorities? Oh yeah that would work well.

    Locally, the tax base can determine what they can afford and what the priorities are. For poorer areas, the states can put incremental money into those districts.

    Our federal tax code is already progressive beyond reason. Given that nearly 50% of households pay zero towards the operation of the federal government just how much more progressive can the system get?