|End of day at Hooper Bay School|
Regardless of your political leaning or personal philosophy, years like this put us all on the hot seat for what we value in state spending. Are we ready to pay some income tax in order to keep the troopers on duty, the ferries running, and the lights on in the schools. Are we ready to accept longer lines at DMV and longer waits for snow to be removed from highways? Are we willing to give up on public funding for Public radio and state parks or will we cut the pay of public employees instead? The case is clear we have to give up something, everyone does. We'll know we've got it right if we are all smarting a little bit, if we all lost a piece of the pie and had to settle for a slice a bread.
With a career in education, it is easy for me to want to protect the school budgets, but I know they too will suffer, it's just a matter of how much. Over the last ten to fifteen years, the teachers have taken a lot of hits in the pocket book and I'd hate to see them take another. Teachers that retire today do so with very little retirement cushion to sit on, and Alaskan salaries no longer exceed the other states. That means we can't keep and recruit the best teachers anymore. If you haven't read Jake Todd's piece in the Alaska Dispatch, you need to. He paints a gloomy picture, and this is a problem that won't fix itself. We've been robbing Peter to pay Paul for long enough and it's time Paul faced the music.