A hot topic these days in Vermont is education reform. The system is supposedly inefficient and expensive. With young people leaving because house prices are sky-rocketing, many school populations are shrinking. The thought of allocating some tax dollars and generating revenue through development options has some towns licking their lips.
Now I don’t claim to know the best way to deal with Vermont’s education system or that of any other state (I know Maine is in a similar boat), but our language betrays us here. Most of the talk about schools comes down to dollars saved and spent efficiently.
Never mind if the life of a community revolves around a school. Never mind if the small class sizes may provide a better education. If money can be saved, then we seize the opportunity.
The same typically goes for other public services, where saving tax dollars comes before providing beneficial, if not important services. The more I think about the life of my community, the more inclined I am to happily ship my tax money away.
My Republican roots have taught me to be suspicious of inefficient government programs that are sometimes exploited by loafers, but on the whole I think our idolatry of money must be kept in check by an analysis of the public good. If keeping a school open is better for the community, but not for our wallets, then I’ll all for keeping the school around. It’s worth the money.
For more about Vermont’s education system, see Vermont Scrapwood.