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John Pawlak’s usually amusing (content and style) column fell flat on July 9 when he argued like a politician about teacher pay. Namely, he quoted national expenditures of 600 billion dollars for this and 700 billion for that, but cuts in education funding. The proper thing to compare with is spending on education, not cuts: I don’t intend to do his homework for him, but the crudest estimates of number of students, student-teacher ratios and pay scales suggest that national education expenditures lie in the range of 500 billion dollars per year, counting public and private schools, vocational training and universities, without even including corporate, fire, police and military training. It would be fair to argue about whether the relative amounts make sense, but John didn’t do that, which should only work on the credulous, not his usual audience.
While I agree with John that Los Alamos teachers’ acceptance of pay cuts is commendable, particularly in contrast to Albuquerque’s municipal workers, reduction in state funding makes a reduction in school costs essential. And no, I don’t want to see this made by reducing the number of functioning commodes — public health is important, too. This is to be contrasted with the pointless, not to say mindless, reduction of county expenditures, as the county has more than adequate income to increase services, at least temporarily, and so assist in the economic recovery. Unfortunately, it is impeded by state law from assisting our schools.