Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country
of West Texas
By Smokey Briggs
Tuesday, December 3, 2002
First we fire all the administrators
AKA Smokey's quick fix for schools
I don't get it.
Why does it seem to cost more every year to educate a child?
Inflation is not the answer. School funding is tied to property taxes.
Property taxes are tied to property values. Property values are tied to
So, funding from local property taxes should maintain a ratio that keeps
up with inflation.
So what is it?
Why is it that every year more money is poured into our statewide education
system (and nationwide for that matter) and every year the cry goes out
for more money?
It certainly does not seem that children are getting a better education
than they did 20 years, or 40 years, or 60 years ago. Perhaps more are actually
being given a diploma, but the diploma is nearly valueless today after 50
years of ill-thought education polices that encourage social promotion
based on everything from Freud to race _ everything but the ability read,
write and do a bit of arithmetic.
We could probably spend years and years pondering the rising costs and
get nowhere _ so why not just fix the problem?
Here are two recipes:
Recipe Number One:
End all federal involvement, from funding to mandates. Cut it off clean.
End all state involvement, from funding to mandates. Cut it off clean
Allow communities to tax themselves to build the schools they want. Some
will be better than others. Just like today. But the cost will be a heck
of a lot cheaper than today, even for the best schools.
Recipe Number Two:
Want to fix education and leave the government involved? End all forms
of job discrimination protection. Fired means fired and we don't care if
you think it was because you were a girl, or a boy, or in between, or anything
else. The world is full of hard knocks. Get over it and move on.
Now fire every administrator that currently holds a job. Now fire every
teacher that has a degree in education rather than in a subject worth teaching.
Now fire every coach whose real job is coaching rather than teaching. Sell
every stinking bus that does not look like a yellow dog. Forbid the building
of athletic facilities beyond grass fields and wooden bleachers. End the
concept of teacher certification.
Now fire the rest of the teachers.
Okay, that leaves us with some buildings and books.
Now, set teachers' salaries so that the minimum for a new teacher is
$40,000 in 2002 dollars. We can do that because we have eliminated the entire
coaching staff and all the administrators. Set the scale so that after 30
years as a teacher you can retire and live as well as those retiring from
corporate America. The qualification for teaching will be competence in
your subject. Math teacher? Hmmmm, how is your math? Got a degree in mathematics?
Now, advertise the pay scale and pick the cream of the crop. There will
be some cream at these wages.
Set the top administrators salary so that it is no more than 10 percent
above the maximum that a teacher can make.
Fill administrative positions with any money left over after you've hired
enough teachers. Main requirement _ minimum of ten years teaching a real
subject _ health and other "coach jobs" do not count.
When you run out of money you have enough administrators. Remember, there
is not much to administer since you ditched the athletic program and gave
the classroom back to the folks who are supposed to run it _ teachers.
Now reinstall athletics.
For an extra $XXX a month, who wants to be the head football coach after
you are done teaching your real classes?
Congrats coach; now pick your staff from the other volunteers.
Curriculum for high school? Four years of math, English, history, foreign
language, and science.
Can't hack that? Gee you are not in school any more. You are now available
And that end result should be okay.
There is no perfect fix. Some children will always make it to their 18th
birthday without knowing how to read.
No system can fix that. Parents can. But systems cannot. All a system
can do is provide opportunity. It is up to kids and parents to take advantage
EDITOR'S NOTE: Smokey Briggs is the editor and publisher of the
Pecos Enterprise whose column appears on Tuesdays. He can be e-mailed at:
The "Truth in Naming Laws," Law
Here is an idea _ one law for one purpose named so that the title describes
the contents of the law.
It is hard to argue for any new federal law in this day when the federal
statutes can be measured by the ton.
However, there is one new law that could only be good for our republic.
This would be the Truth in Naming Law.
The new law would demand that bills passing from congress only contain
legislation reasonably related to the name on the bill.
For instance, the Defense Spending Bill, could only contain legislation
authorizing spending for Defense.
It is a novel concept that has never caught on in Washington.
So instead, we end up with laws intended to authorize another year of
federal paychecks and tucked into the middle there are "amendments" calling
for truckloads of pork barrel spending.
Currently each bill walking its way through Congress seems to be viewed
by most congressmen as a convenient vehicle to throw their own pet spending
The Truth in Naming Law would outlaw such behavior.
No longer could the Turnip Seed Research Funding Initiative be tacked
onto the back of some legitimate sounding bill.
To get it passed, it would have to be named the Turnip Seed Research Funding
And the same goes for every bill that passes to the president's desk.
Perhaps there would be more bills for the president to sign into law.
But, more possibly, many of these bills would die for lack of support long
before reaching the president's desk.
Digging up support for a bill sending a cool million to your brother-in-law's
school for left handed artists might be a little tougher than packing into
the sausage roll of a major defense spending bill in exchange for your
support of the overall bill.
Like most laws there is a necessary exception, and this simply to spare
us an expletive soaked network news each night.
For most bills passed funding artists supported by the National Endowment
of the Arts, bleeps can be used to describe the particular artistic expression
A true Christmas story
By TUMBLEWEED SMITH
She walked with a limp.
The tired old lady had three offspring, two daughters and a son. The
son had not been home for twenty years. He was a cab driver in a large city.
Her three children had fought each other for most of their lives.
While they were growing up, the older daughter and the son ganged up
on the younger girl. They locked her in closets, told her she was adopted
and would seldom let her hang out with them.
One day the older daughter was talking to her mother and asked her what
she wanted for Christmas.
"I'd just love to have my three children here in my house for Christmas
dinner and not be fussing," the mother replied.
One day the son, while driving his cab, saw a woman walking with a limp,
crossing the street in front of his cab.
She had trouble getting up on the curb, so he got out and helped her.
He stood beside his cab and watched her walk slowly and surely painfully
down the sidewalk.
His eyes followed her for a long while, long enough for traffic to back
up behind him. Some irate drivers let him know what they thought about him
just standing there in the middle of the street. Several horns honked.
He watched her until she disappeared. He remembers seeing her, then not
seeing her. She just vanished. Faded out of sight. He got back in his cab
and drove straight to his mother's house, 200 miles away.
It was Christmas Eve.
He got home to find his two sisters there along with his mother, who
was ailing. The meal was a success. The three children hugged each other,
talked about the past, laughed with their mother and had a good time.
There was no fussing. The son gave his mother his telephone number. After
the dinner, the three returned to their homes. The next day the mother died.
One of the sisters found the brother's telephone number and he was able
to get home to help his sisters bury their mother.
The son said he thought the woman who limped across the street in front
of his cab was an angel.
The three are no longer estranged. They call each other frequently and
talk in loving terms about their mother and growing up together. They joke
about some of the childhood pranks.
And the brother remembers that angel.
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York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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