You've got to give Barstow Unified School District Superintendent Susan Levine points for honesty.
The Desert Dispatch has run two recent stories regarding issues of attendance at BUSD schools. The first story was about a truancy sweep to crack down on youths skipping classes. The second story ran on Tuesday about an attempt by a charter school program to expand its presence in Barstow.
In each case Levine's comments struck directly to the core of why the district leadership cares about either issue — it costs the school district money.
She didn't express concerns about the impact skipping school has on the students. She didn't worry about the quality of the education a charter school was providing. She worried that it was taking money away from BUSD. In fact, Levine told us all exactly how much a student is worth to her — $35 per day.
We actually support Levine's comments, because they inadvertently help make the case for school privatization. After all, many people fear that private or corporate-run school are more concerned about their bottom lines than educating students. So the appropriate question to ask is: How is that different from what we have now?
The difference, of course, that government schools can use the law to force children to attend and force taxpayers to give them money.
Functionally, the administration of a school district isn't much different from the administration of a business — they monitor the relationship between revenue and expenses, working to maximize income as much as possible while keeping expenses under control so the ink stays in the black.
Teachers of course, represent the part of the business that deals with the public. We all adore teachers who obviously love what they do and go the extra mile for their customers, just as we do with any business. But there are some who have burned out or don't like their work anymore and do the minimum of what they need on the job. We've all had that experience in the private sector as well.
What's different is that some seem to think that people who work in government-run fields are somehow better, more charitable people. They're not. They're just like folks in the private realm — but with much more power.