Educational Hubris

I just love New Mexico’s education bureaucracy and the people who defend it. Now, as I’ve discussed previously, the education establishment is pushing for a massive tax hike to fund even more wasteful spending — this despite the fact that the educational system is set to receive a massive cash infusion from the federal stimulus package.
Anyway, as the tax hike bill (in its current form it would increase both the gross receipts and personal income taxes), HB 346, began moving through the Legislature, New Mexico’s usually acquiescent business community showed signs of life and opposed the tax hikes. That is when things started to get interesting.
According to this article from the ABQ Journal, the head of the Albuquerque Teachers Federation said of the business community “They have no business in the education business…they either need to support the kind of funding education needs or they need to be quiet.” There are so many things I could say about this extremely arrogant statement:
1) Given New Mexico’s near 50% dropout rate (second worst in the nation), it would seem that the teachers’ unions and education experts aren’t exactly doing the job;
2) New Mexico has dramatically increased per-pupil education spending over the years, so money may not be the answer (check out page 6 of this study);
3) Since businesses and their consumers will foot the bill for higher taxes, shouldn’t they have a say in whether they are raised?;
4) When did we decide that teachers’ unions were the final authority on education anyway? After all, unions don’t run United Parcel Service and it certainly seems that the unions have not done much for GM, Ford, and Chrysler. When did we abdicate the education of our children to a union that is primarily concerned with increasing teacher salaries, increasing their own membership, and preventing non-union competition?
5) If there are lawsuits over the supposed “adequacy” or lack thereof of New Mexico’s educational offerings, shouldn’t we at least objectively define “adequacy” first? Perhaps choice would make New Mexico’s schools more adequate? Why is more money the only answer (see question 4 for the real reason).
Hopefully the business community stands its ground. We’ll be there providing intellectual ammunition to opponents of this incredible boondoggle.

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