11.09.2015

Education Speculation: 10 Unorthodox Hypotheses as to Why School Bonds Fail

A Sequim School District bond measure has failed and I would like to thank everyone who voted no. You have given me faith that there are people in this uberstatist state who recognize that being forced to pay more taxes does not solve everything, especially problems within the education system.

Please, do not mistake my lack of caring about a compulsory educational system with archaic roots for a lack of caring about children. Schools and children are not the same thing, not by a long shot. For one thing, schools are buildings, and children are humans trapped inside the buildings, but I digress.
This recent bond measure was for constructional renovations and building improvements, which does not necessarily guarantee a better education, only nicer rooms to ruin and not pay attention in. Having reviewed the information regarding the school bond and all the speculated goodness that would come with its passage, I can't help but see it as little more than the teachers and administration wanting new offices, which just so happen to be classrooms that the kids are trapped in all day.

Do not deny it, they are so trapped. If they are not trapped, why do kids have to ask to use the bathroom? And, please, tell me how easy it is for kids to leave a room on their own without a teacher noticing and/or leaving the school grounds in general. Is that why the school needs security officers, to guide kids as they walk out of the buildings during school hours? Oh, and what about when the school is on lock down; are the kids free to leave and get home when a serious threat is locked in the building with them? Again, I digress.
What often happens when a bond measure fails is the questioning of why it failed. In fact, Sequim School bonds have failed a lot in the last couple years; a clear sign to me that property owners here do not want to pay more taxes. Now if only the people in charge would take the overly obvious hint and stop submitting bond measures every election cycle.

Perhaps, though, the people in charge are tired of hearing the same reasons for why the bond measures continue to fail, time and time again. Well, have no fear, because I am here to share my 10 unorthodox hypotheses as to why school bonds fail.


1. Taxation: This is the most obvious reason to anyone who owns property in Washington State, as I have done, and has to pay property taxes for their local school district, as I have done. However, this reason may not be obvious to people who rent and do not own property, and, therefore, may be unaware of property taxes. 


When I rented property, I was never given a breakdown by the owners of what the property taxes were, because I only had to pay rent and the taxes were their obligation. Granted, one's rent may help cover the property taxes, but, when it comes down to it in the tax collector's office, property taxes are not a renter's obligation, nor do they get credit for it, unless otherwise agreed upon. My past experiences as a renter, as well as conversing with renters, is what tells me there are very likely more renters in Washington who could be clueless to property taxes like I was years ago; and yet renters have the right to vote to raise property taxes for property owners. Pardon me while I bite my thumb in disgust at an oft fallible system.

2. School Buses: Another blatantly obvious reason for school bond failures is the fact that school buses (and the slow-walking kids who board them) hold up taxpayers 9 months out of the year from getting somewhere, namely to work so they can make money to be taxed and pay for school buses that hold them up. 

Never forget: Every time a taxpayer is stuck waiting for a kid to get out of their parents' vehicle to walk 15 feet to get on a bus that will only stop in 30 seconds for another kid, a school bond dies.

3. School Zones: If the school buses aren't holding up the taxpayers, then it's the 20-mile-per-hour speed limit outside the school. Why 20 miles per hour during working hours when kids are trapped inside a building the majority of the time? Because, when kids are trapped inside a building the ability for taxpayers to get somewhere comes second to the safety of the kids trapped in a building. 

Now, if a sign says 20 MPH when kids are present, it makes more sense; or if a sign says 20 MPH before and after school when traffic is heavy and kids are present, that makes sense too. But a 9-hour-long, 20 MPH speed limit only helps to kill school bonds, because it is the taxpayers who are forced to drive on the roads they pay for, past the school they pay for, at an absurd speed limit for kids trapped in a building.

4. Restricted Access: How much access does a taxpayer have to the school's amenities that they have helped pay for? Very little, that's what. Taxpayers do not get to freely roam the halls during school hours to view firsthand how their tax dollars are being used (and who they are being used on), nor eat lunch in the cafeteria, nor do they get to use school facilities at their whim, as I have seen signs at various schools stating that in order to use the fields and facilities one must make a reservation (and, of course, get approval). 


Hell, these days a taxpayer walking down a school hallway without a kid enrolled in the school would probably be stopped for fear they were there to abduct a kid. So, if taxpayers do not get to enjoy the amenities they pay for at the school, why would/should they pay for it? They wouldn't, and they shouldn't. 


5: Not My Kids: While the 'It takes a village to raise a child' theory sounds ideal, the reality is not everyone in the village agrees nor wants to pay to raise another's child. If a taxpayer does not have kids in the public school, either due to not having kids or choosing another education option, why would/should that taxpayer pay for other people's kids' education and related facilities? Yes, it sounds ideal to say that by paying for other people's kids' education it helps ensure the village is filled with educated kids who will contribute back to the community, but the reality is that ideal is not always the case. 

Therefore, if it is not guaranteed that kids will succeed due to taxpayers paying more taxes, why should they pay more taxes? They shouldn't. Granted, in mindful truth nothing is guaranteed, not even the next hour; however, when it comes to matters of money being forcefully taken to pay for things one does not agree with, a guarantee would go a long way to further the cause.

6. Retired Transplants: Sequim is a retirement town rich with golf courses, and with a median age of 58. The ever-growing population of retirees come from Washington State and beyond, and a good number of these transplants have no family in the area (perhaps that is why they move here). So, with no grand-offspring to worry about being educated in Sequim, and with pensions/Social Security to protect, why would retired people want to pay more taxes? 


Yes, one could speculate that paying for better schools will keep kids from becoming uneducated thugs and destroying other people's property; but, from the looks of it, a lot of educated people in bureaucratic educational systems are the ones destroying other people's property by working hard to take their property in the form of taxes. If one's money is not one's property, then what is it; a loan from the Federal Reserve?

7. Kids: Right up there with taxation, kids are another obvious reason why people may not want to support school bonds. Not everyone likes kids, especially kids that are not their own; not everyone wants to support kids, especially kids that do not respect property. 

For instance, when I drive through town and see school-aged children with their backpacks on, standing at a corner repeatedly banging on the button to cross the street, that is no incentive for me to choose to invest money into these kids. Taxpayers pay for that button that people push to cross the street (FYI, you only need to hit it once and it does the job), just like they pay for schools and everything else that government mandates; and if school kids don't respect the cross signal button enough to not abuse it, would they respect the facilities taxpayers provide at the school enough not to abuse them? Doubtful.

8: Seahawks Worship: Admittedly, I hold a strong personal bias against professionally organized sports that only serve to glorify millionaires who play with their balls (read more here). However, that bias becomes all the stronger when I see a small community, such as Sequim is, promote professional players in another city before promoting local school teams. I truly think many places in Washington should be called 'Little Seattle' because they all act as if the Seahawks are their local team. 


Do people think that it helps the students when they see no support from the community for their sports? Heck, most of the kids themselves wear Seahawks gear before their own school colors, so maybe the kids don't care; and, therefore, why should anyone else? For example, when fundraisers are held for school sports teams and the organizers use Seahawks paraphernalia to decorate (photo below), how is an onlooker to know what the fundraiser is for; the school team, the Seahawks, what? And, more importantly, if parents and community members aren't interested in promoting local school teams by showing off the colors and mascot, why should others in the community invest in the facilities the teams use at school? 


It also makes me wonder: Would the Seahawks themselves consider it a morale builder for young players when communities promote professional ballplayers before promoting the kids' school teams? If people in charge want school bonds to pass, perhaps they should put on a better act of showing that they support the school, its teams, and its students before the Seahawks.

9. Stuck in the Past: On a morning drive to work recently, I noticed the high school's reader board announcing information about yearbooks and picture retakes. Yearbooks and picture retakes...in 2015 (?!?!) when there is Facebook, Twitter, Skype, blogging, texting, phone cameras, selfies, email, and multiple ways of keeping in contact with each other in real time...unlike last century when none of these things existed? Yearbooks should be left where they belong, in the Twentieth Century; they are a waste of money and resources this day in age. 

Therefore, if school is about preparing kids for the future, how is that happening by having them cling to outdated traditions from another century? And if something as outdated as a yearbook is still being promoted, it makes me wonder what other outdated ideas are being promoted at the school; and that is all the more reason, in my view, not to approve a school bond.

10. The Survivors: School is a subjective experience and different for everyone who attends. Not everyone remembers their schooling experience, nor do they remember the same things as others, but that does not mean everyone forgets. Some of us remember it too well and are still recovering from it decades later. As a graduate, product and survivor of the Washington State school system, I have a strong personal bias against it and wish it on no one, most of all my expectant offspring. 

Public school is compulsory, which means it is mandatory by law and forced on kids (and parents) whether they want it or not. However, that does not mean education or learning or betterment is mandatory; going to class, sitting in the seats X number of days a year, passing the tests, and fulfilling the government-required curriculum is all that is mandatory. I might be a fool for not supporting such a system, but I would be a bigger fool to deny that the system is anything other than what it proves itself to be -- a joke

In Conclusion:  Does all my speculation mean that Sequim Schools are forever doomed to never get better? Hell no. It could mean, however, that the people in charge need to get creative and think outside the school room (and dismiss bureaucratically mandated compliance requirements that are unnecessary) in order to get what they need.

I have no doubt school administrators' hands are very much tied in red tape by what the State of Washington mandates, along with the many overreaching arms of the Federal Government. Until a school district breaks the cycle of insanity by taking a stand against bureaucrats who neither pay for the schools nor use the schools, I suspect absolutely nothing will change for the better. Do you think it will?


Thank You for Voting No!
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