Thursday, February 25, 2010

5th Column – The Union

Our splendid new governor Bob McDonnell is moving to bring fiscal order to the chaos that our previous Democrat governor Tim Kaine left behind.  Each and every time any discussion of budget sanity moves towards our school system, the professional agitators of the Virginia school employee’s union become utterly hysterical.  How can we bring order to chaos if we can’t touch our bloated and inefficient school bureaucracy? 

School funding makes up 40% of the State budget and 50% of our county budget.  How do you fix your budget problems if that much of it is off limits?  I live in a suburban county South of Washington, DC. And I dug into our county government and school system websites to get a sense of where we were:

Population -  395,485 (December 2009 projected 412,000 in 2010)
Number of population employed – 206,797
Households – 132,912
Public school students K-12 – 76,656 (includes some pre-K)
County school employees (full time equivalents) – 9,661
Schools - 88 (55 Elementary, 15 middle, 10 high school)
One brand new $35 million luxury administrative building
Approved Prince William County school budget - $1.135 Billion

Some Analysis:
- There is one public school employee for every eight students
- The school system claims a ratio of 1 teacher to every 16.2 students which means it takes one administrator/support person to put a teacher in the classroom.
- An astonishing 2.4% of the county population or 4.7% of the county’s working population are employed by the county school system
- Less than 400,000 citizens or 206,797 working people or 132,912 households are given an annual $1.135 Billion bill for public schools.  That is $2840 per person; $5500 per working person; or $8500 per household.

I don’t care what your political persuasion is – how can we sustain that? 

If anyone doubts that we are being crushed by our government – just take a look at our school system.  These figures don’t include any private schools or the college campuses in the county.  One small county in Northern Virginia is supporting a school system nearly the size of division of soldiers.  There are 3,140 counties in the United States – how much are we spending on public schools?

In all this we are indirectly supporting the Virginia Education Association (the union) who has become the lobbying arm of the school system to protect them from any hint budgetary discipline.  They are the Fifth Column in Virginia and our county.  No sooner had it been mentioned that the legislature was looking at a modest budget cut, but the union started directly whipping up the teachers and everyone else they could reach.  There were apocalyptic pronouncements by union spokespersons in the news.  A dear friend (and teacher) sent me her concerns – I tracked them right back to the union website hysteria.  As is true in most industries that they touch – unions have become the enemy.    

Our taxes (Federal, State, and local) fund the school employee and they in turn fund the union.  In addition a portion of our debt also goes to maintain our school system.  We are funding our own demise.  It must be brought under control.  Take a few minutes and see if your county is as out of control as ours is. 

Conservative Resistance – Day 478
Our next chance for National sanity – 250 days

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