It’s time to use the brakes
The manic excitement over Auburn's great achievement, the erection of the largest scoreboard in college football, continues. Have we not gone over yet another edge, similar to what many feel the “monstrosity” apartment building at Ross and Glenn represents?
I am reminded of the title of the Harper Lee book we've all just learned about: "Go Set a Watchman.” The rest of the verse is, "and let him say what he seeth.” What on earth would that watchman think this scoreboard says about such a priority at an institution of higher learning?
But wait, there's more: all this in the face of the revelation of two straight years of budget shortfall in the athetic department – a $865,944 shortfall in 2012-13 and $13.6 million in 2014.
Jay Jacobs explains to us that “it's like your household, sometimes you don't make as much money as you'd like to in one year, so you have to dip into your savings.” Imagine being part of an enormous family business, in which some people earn enormous salaries and others smaller ones. All of you are regulated in many ways. Your cousin the lawyer will earn more than your cousin the violinist, or your cousin the athletic department will earn more than your cousin the history department. One accepts these things.
But what if you are told that your cousin the lawyer has just spent $13.9 million on some gaudy show-off luxury item, despite a shortfall of $13.6 million shortfall? I bet the rest of you would be scolded for dipping into YOUR savings for something frivolous.
Isn't anybody ever going to suggest that we might put the brakes on a little bit?
Does Alabama value education?
I asked a silly question recently and got a distressing answer. My question: Instead of providing scholarships (vouchers) to private schools for a few students or start charter schools run by out-of-state for-profit companies, why don't we just invest in improving the public schools until every child has a chance at a good education? My question was answered by a friend who is respected political scientist in one word: money.
It is distressing that our legislators are willing to spend money to help a few students while allowing the neediest to continue attending schools that are likely to get worse through neglect.
It is distressing that legislators condemn the Common Core, a curriculum developed NOT by the federal government but by educators in the various states to enable students from any school, anywhere, to be employable anywhere. Do they just prefer to keep an unskilled labor force at home to work for less than they can live on? (The Common Core, like all human endeavors, is imperfect; the trouble seems to lie with the testing methods rather than with the content.)
Many years ago, I shocked a group of scientists who were endeavoring to promote science education in the South by remarking that Alabamians didn't value education. If I were at a similar meeting today, I'd say the same thing. If we did value education, wouldn't we want the best possible for all our children?