As some in the community may know, there is organized opposition to the Woodridge School Levy. It's worth noting that much of the opposition is seemingly from individuals that are not actually part of the Woodridge community. That is to say, they stand to neither gain nor lose regardless of the levy election results. For those families in the community who have children in the Woodridge Schools, this is an important election. These families do stand to lose if the levy is not passed.
After evaluating Citizen's for Public Eauality's position and proposed solution, I had the following thoughts listed below. When shared with the Woodridge Levy Committee the group felt this was an appropriate official response from our organization.
Mr. Thompson, I've been thinking about your Political Action Committee. Your solution imposes a private sector view on a public sector model. Unfortunately the rules are not the same in those two systems. Therefore, it is unreasonable to try and modify the system without first modifying the rules. In your solution teachers should reduce their pay and increase their benefit contributions. I'm assuming your solution suggests these concessions would be restored once the economy was stronger; as if there was some sort of profit sharing or bonus model. However, in districts across the US evidence shows that once cuts are made they rarely return. This certainly doesn't provide any incentive for any teacher to wish to see their pay reduced. Moreover, the $1.8 million needing cut would only resolve the issue for one additional year. You see, per State law school districts must balance their budgets each year; this is something else that does not exist in the private sector.
While your campaign's effort suggests teachers have it easy, they earn their wages, pay into their benefit plan, and are required by law to pay into their retirement plan. Their work is noble. It's not like a private sector environment. The laws are not structured so that they will be rewarded if they do well. So what your solution is really seeking is for the teachers and staff to take on the financial burden of a failed economy, a mess they did not create. This request is unreasonable.
For you to to ask that individuals should refuse to fund current public education initiatives really only harms the students who rely on those funds for a better future. It also harms the future of our society as a whole. Meanwhile, your efforts to block school levies, and the minimal cost they impart on the community, will only yield a greater potential cost associated with caring for an uneducated citizen (welfare, prison, etc.). I understand there are some in our community who truly cannot afford the increase. I have already petitioned our governing body to consider amendments that would exclude senior citizens living on a fixed income from such increases. However, their refusal to fund education today will undoubtedly cost them tomorrow (lower property values, a weakened community that shrinks instead of grows, increased welfare, and increased taxes for prisons).
So, why not support the levy and direct your efforts towards reform? We're not opposed to reform. Changes to school funding will only happen with a larger voice, we're making a commitment to be a part of that voice. But we cannot cause reform on our own. We also believe we should not short change our current students while we wait for the political process to do its job.
Finally, you continually claim the community can't afford the levy and this is why it was voted down. Meanwhile, others supporting your own group actually indicated they can in fact afford it but choose not to do so; one gentleman clearly stated this at the Peninsula community forum. So it could be argued that the real problem you have is with teachers and their compensation.
Unfortunately you further propagate your issues with false information and inflammatory remarks that teachers receive "lavish raises." You use other misleading statements suggesting all employees have million dollar retirement accounts. This propaganda leaves the community, one which you are not even a resident of, believing Woodridge is somehow abusing tax dollars. If one does the math they would hopefully see that a less than 1% increase per year hardly qualifies as lavish. Yet the facts are clear. The district's REAL funding issue stems from a reductions in State funds due to increases in student enrollment. Increased demand, even in the private sector, typically demands increased costs to meet the demand. Furthermore, let us not ignore the fact that current levy funds have been stretched three years beyond their intended 5 year budget.
Thus when evaluating all the true facts and figures, not inflammatory, emotional arguments, it would strongly suggest the district is in fact due for new funds. In short their request is justified by the numbers (enrollment is up 15%, state funding per pupil is down 20%). The request is justified within the current legal structure surrounding school funding; levies are the only means to raise new funds. Fighting this change today through levy opposition does not change the legal structure school districts must abide by. Cutting teachers' salaries does not compensate for the increased financial demands placed on the district.
To the Woodridge Community, please consider these very real facts and vote Yes for Issue 5.