State could save if leaders, voters willing to change

Published 5:00 am Friday, April 22, 2005

Dear Editor,

In a recent viewpoint (“All sides of funding debate owe usspecific answers,” April 3), you wrote: “Gov. Barbour and senators,you say the schools can get by with less than they’ve requested.Please tell us how. Detail what cuts can be made and where.”

I accept the challenge.

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1. All community colleges drop all athletics. Ever wonder why sofew community colleges in the South have football? (Answer: It’sway too expensive.) Of course, the poorest state in the nation hasa community college system that just must spend millions on thissport. And don’t say “it makes money” –┬áthat is a very old myth.Don’t say “it’s a tradition” – so is poverty. It’s past time tomove on with bold leadership.

2. Consolidate school systems. You get one state check percounty. Work it out. Grow up. The poorest state in the nationcannot afford this duplication. Ditto for community colleges andtheir numerous expensive branches. Know another rural state wherecomplete community colleges are 36 miles apart?

3. Pressure our wonderful congressmen to fully fund all themandated federal programs or promise them you won’t vote for themagain. Write or e-mail them this week. I dare you to becomeinvolved. You won’t.

4. Eliminate or consolidate the non-universities, and take aclose look at all university programs. Stop the duplicationinsanity.

5. Realize only a deep crisis gets the “leadership” to considerthe many reforms needed to reach fiscal sanity. Every year is abudget crisis and budget cuts. This tells you leadership is weakand shortsighted. Stop electing these people. They have the sametired, failed vision.

6. Elect people who agree to “line item” funds from casinos andsuch so voters know where the money goes. Remember when gamblingwas the educational money cure? They lied again.

7. Change to a unicameral legislature (like Nebraska). Save lotsof money there with elections, offices and travel. The pooreststate cannot afford both a House and a Senate. Lots lessblame-shifting, too. What group will run with this? Then pass termlimits so in 12 years they go home to stay.

Prediction: Nothing will change much because so many selfishgroups cannot even agree what day it is, so the greater good andcommon sense will lose again.

Conclusion: You like the leadership you have now.

Doug Shexnayder,

Vidalia, La.