By William F. Zachmann for the Duxbury Clipper
No reasonable person would disagree that bullying in our schools is undesirable and should be actively discouraged. Nor should we, as adults, set bad examples for children by bulling others. Unfortunately, however, at least some over-zealous partisans of new school buildings at whatever the cost appear to have no hesitation about resorting to what amounts to outright bullying of their fellow citizens. Perhaps that is because it is much easier to attack those who do not share their enthusiasm for simply throwing money at buildings rather than addressing the real problems with of the quality of education, not only in Duxbury, but across the USA today.
The most obvious aspect of this is in the very name of the “Duxbury Cares” organization that is conducting a very skillful, professional even, campaign to ensure that Duxbury’s citizens will consent, with minimal deliberation and maximum haste, to huge tax increases to spend nearly $130 million for a brand new combined middle and high school. The obvious implication of “Duxbury Cares” is that anyone who fails immediately to go along with this well-engineered Commonwealth of Massachusetts-wide, construction industry boondoggle at the expense of taxpayers does not care and therefore is a bad person. If that not bullying right from the start, what is then?
Never mind that despite huge increases in per-pupil spending on education, SAT scores in the US continue to decline. Never mind that despite numerous efforts to find a connection, spending on school building repeatedly fails to show any significant correlation with improved educational outcomes. Never mind the volumes of evidence that the single most important factor in the quality of education is the quality of teachers and that seniority- rather than performance-based compensation for teachers is the root of the problem. Never mind that absurdly high compensation for top level school administrators is one of the fastest growing line items in school department budgets.
No! It is so much easier to neglect routine maintenance of school buildings year after year and then pull expensive building projects, like magical rabbits, from the magicians hat and then bully voters into automatically approving them by implying that they are horrible people who do not care about education if they so much as question the amount or the particulars of the plan, let alone dare actually to oppose the project.
In truth, knowingly or not, they work not on behalf of coming generations of school children so much as of the construction industry, the buildings trades unions, and a handful of specially privileged politically connected architectural firms that, by dint of the MSBA’s ‘model schools’ scam (without apology for the strong language because a scam is exactly what it is) that funnels large wads of taxpayer’s money to them in what amount to over-priced, controlled-competition, no-bid contracts.
Duxbury certainly needs to do something about its schools, given how badly they have been maintained and how poorly they have been managed. But Duxbury does not need to be bullied by false assertions that the only alternatives are either to be led like sheep to the shearing with the current $128.5 million proposal or to do nothing. Nor should it be.