Monday, October 31, 2011
Educational tax increases
What got me started thinking about running for school board was the amount of school taxes that I pay and this increases yearly. I don't have all my property tax statements handy, but from 2006 to 2010 there was a 12.4% increase in school taxes. School taxes make up 31% of the municipal budget. I consider overall property taxes to be too high, but hopefully there are individuals who are running for city councillor or mayor who can address the issue of increasing property taxes.
There are two ways to approach this problem: sit around and complain to whoever happens to be listening or do something about it. My decision was to try to do something about the increase in school taxes that has been occurring as the increased cost of public education has not been accompanied by improved outcomes.
One example that comes to mind is the staggering innumeracy that I've run into among teenagers. The mini-mental status exam has one portion which involves repeatedly subtracting 7 from 100; an operation so trivial that most people in their 50's and 60's have no trouble doing this. I've been surprised at the number of 16-18 year olds that are unable to complete this test if they do manage to get to 93. This is a skill that should have been learned in elementary school and explains why I've had so many befuddled looks from very young cashiers when I give them an amount of money designed to minimize the change they need to give back to me. Only when they've entered the amount I've given them into the cash register do they suddenly realize what I'm doing but they're unable to do mental arithmetic.
As this phenomenon is getting more widespread it's clear that the education system is failing these kids at some level and, if funding of the educational system was based on outcomes, I should be seeing my school taxes decrease from year to year. Mathematics is one of the foundations of a technologic civilization and widespread innumeracy is at least as disabling as illiteracy.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
The main reason I've decided to run for Kamloops school board is because of my concerns about the state of science and mathematical education in schools. IMO, these subjects aren't given the emphasis they deserve. Development of critical thinking skills is not encouraged and objective quantification of student performance doesn't exist past grade 7. Education is too important an area to be monopolized by the state and teachers unions. Monopolies are almost universally inefficient as they have no competition.
Student performance has not improved despite the increasing amount of money that has been spent on universal education. I'm well aware that there is an entrenched bureaucracy in existence that controls the education system but it's time for some new ideas from outside the system. As a municipal taxpayer, I want better return on my investment.
My whole campaign will be conducted online via this blog as it seems to be the most expedient way of communicating ideas. This blog doesn't accept comments; after all it is simplistic open-source blog creation software. Depending on how many hits this entry gets, will consider posting an email address just for this election period.