Friday, May 13, 2011

Opt Out Opponents Won't Answer Questions

Blogger has been down, so some posts and comments have disappeared, and this post may show up twice.  Because it’s been sent by email twice, the format may be a little off.

Shane Gerlach posted my questions from this post on this Press and Dakotan comment thread. I understand why there’s no comments here; Blogger has been less than cooperative.  However, even in that forum, opt out opponents (OOOs), refused to give any numbers in this response:

charlie wrote on May 12, 2011 3:00 PM:
" The school board is a government entity.
As such, they typically will not cut their budget voluntarily. Once a new position, schedule, service, sport, etc. is established (should have included taxes) it will remain forever. It is so much easier to request more money than it is to fine tune the budget. The school board has opted out. That is not a request for money, that is a statement that they are taking more money.
Taxpayers were not included in their decision making, but we will be now.
How much is too much and how long is too long?
My answer is to have the board ( who I heard is making plans for another less invasive opt out) show the taxpayers last years expenses compared to next years. Sell the taxpayers on a program that couples budget cuts with opt-out dollars, whatever that figure may be.
Length of each opt out should be no longer than one year at a time. It is a simple majority vote to make this happen.
Taxpayers can assess their opt out figures and do nothing or refer again if they consider it excessive.
In the words of one of our greater Presidents "Trust but Verify". "
Let's parse this response a bit. First, the anti-government rhetoric is straight from the starve the beast playbook. In short, starve the beast is an effort to destroy any government entity by refusing to fund it. Next, there's the salute to Ronald Reagan's repeated Russian proverb "Trust but Verify." I don't know who Charlie is, but I'm betting that Charlie and I both remember that Reagan used this phrasing when negotiating with the Soviets. In short, Charlie seems to be implying that public schools are linked to Soviet dictatorships. That tactic seems to come straight from the Paul Dorr playbook.

Most importantly, there are no numbers.  Sometimes what's not said is as important as what is said.  The stubborn refusal to even consider supplying numbers indicates that no amount will satisfy OOOs.  Every piece of information Charlie requests is available here and OOOs know it.

Let's review.  An OOO spokesperson uses starve the beast language and implies that Yankton School District is a relic of the Soviet Union.  Charlie also refuses to give any number that would be acceptable for an opt out.  Finally, OOOs hire Paul Dorr who has repeatedly stated he wants to insure the demise of public education.

There's another old saying that's as important as "trust but verify"; "Once is an accident . Twice is a trend. Three times is a problem."  OOOs have a problem:  their tactics, words or lack of words, and hired consultant all seem to indicate that their ultimate goal is to destroy Yankton's public schools.

Update #1:  This comment has been made on the thread accompanying "Opt-out Foes Hire Consultant."
charlie wrote on May 13, 2011 7:06 AM:
" I agree a mess is coming. As one opposed to the opt-out I am also opposed to bringing in outside consultants. Our community can fight it's own battles.
However, one must keep in mind that it was not CFSE or Dorr or taxpayers that threw the first punch. Our school superintendant and school board voted to shackle our homeowners, businesses, and farmers with a 41 million dollar ball and chain that they admit they may not need. Also, the board cannot possibly foresee 10 years down the road what income and expenses they will have. 
Had the board solicited taxpayer input prior to demanding this obscene amount of money for an obscene amount of time we would not be in this position.
We don't need Paul Dorr, but we also don't need a school board that frightens the taxpayers so much that they would hire him. "
Although I strongly disagree with Charlie's statement that the school board has said they won't need the money or that they "threw the first punch," I appreciate Charlie's response to Mr. Dorr's arrival.  It takes more courage to stand up to those in your own circle than it does to take on your opponents.

A hearty debate helps communities grow.  Mr. Dorr does not promote healthy debate; he will leave a divided, angry community in his wake.  He will also leave a weakened school system.   That divided community and weakened system make it unlikely that an opt out effort that meets Charlie's criteria will ever come about.  Mr. Dorr's arrival will permanently change Yankton's social and political landscape.  If this opt out fails, proposals for one year opt outs for minuscule amounts will be challenged, and Yankton will the see the current cracks in its social structure become chasms.

Update # 2This comments thread still has no answers to the questions posed here.


yanktonirishred said...

I believe Charlie is Charlii Gilson former legislator from Yankton County.

~Shane Gerlach...the dude who swiped your stuff!!

P.S.-Love the blog, found it on my friend Cory's site, The Madville Times.

LK said...

Steal as you will, Shane. Thanks for the kind words and for reading.

Cory is a good friend of mine as well. His blog is certainly a must read.