Thursday, November 8, 2007


CPS decides not to decide….

All citizens paying tax dollars within the Columbia School District should take note of the districts intent to appeal the decision of Cole County Circuit Court Judge Callahan where it was decided that Missouri does indeed honor its obligation of providing 25% of revenues for education.

In fact, upon evaluation, the state has provided anywhere from 26-35% of its revenues. Yet, the same people who decided to join in the lawsuit and spend over $80,000.00 of our taxpayer money have decided to spend even more.

It was announced on November 1st in The Columbia Daily Tribune that school board members were going to decide at the November 12th meeting whether or not to remain part of the appeal. As of today, November 7th, Karla DeSpain, the President of the School Board has stated that ‘the meeting is already expected to be lengthy with discussions about a new high school site and some new achievement data.’ So basically, she is saying that it is not terribly important right now. Why the change? And will they wait until less than a week out from the NEXT meeting to postpone their decision again?

In theory, the School Board should be acting in the best interests of the students and their parents, and finally the community they serve and who pay them to educate the children. However, they instead take the tax dollars designated for educating children and divert them to sue the tax payers for more money when they have consistently (and with continued increase in tax dollars) showed stagnant educational performance. To continue remaining active in the appeal is to continue adding up the costs to the tax payers for actions that do not reflect the desires nor serve the needs of Columbia’s constituents.

Postponing the decision to remain part of the CEE’s appeal is an active choice to continue paying attorneys for preparing the appeal. If they are not going to stay in the law suit, then they should get out now and stop the tax dollars from bleeding away from what SHOULD be there mission to educate. By postponing the decision, Columbia residents should take that as the board’s intent to stay committed to an appeal that will cost more than the $80.000.00 already spent on a failed and frivolous lawsuit.

Frankly, all of this failed effort to acquire more money distracts from the real issues at hand: Why can they not educate the students, when they have consistently received more and more money? An historical look at performance vs. funding shows that, though spending has more than doubled over the last 30 years, student performance has remained stagnant.

Douglas Adams once said, “Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.” It is easy to claim that more money will solve the problems—in fact the teachers unions and school boards have been getting away with this for 3 decades. It is not easy to reform the system. Yet, for the benefit of our children, and, ultimately, the benefit of society as whole, we need to slow down and look at this growing problem of failing public educational systems and CHOOSE a new path.

The Chairman of CEE (the group of School district leading the appeal) is also the superintendent of Van Buren School District, Jeff Lindsey. Mr. Lindsey clearly has failed to learn our educational history as reflected in his statement, “We continue to believe the current school funding system and level of funding deprives children of their fundamental right to a quality education.” Mr. Lindsey should learn the lesson of the other school districts that have rightfully dropped from the appeal. So when Columbia School Board President Karla DeSpain says the board isn’t deciding yet, it is clear they have already made their choice—they just aren’t intending to tell the citizens in time for them to respond. Citizens should unite and cry out “NO MORE LAWSUIT!” NOW would be a good time to do this….

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