Monday, July 16, 2007

Tragic Under Funding Guilt Trip

There is never enough money. There will never be enough money. I may be wrong about the latter statement, but I have never heard anyone in education state an exact dollar amount that will satisfy all desires. It’s time to turn the screws on private business. Got guilt trip?

Cuts in School Funding Are Hard: Martha Vukelich-Austin is president of the Foundation for Madison's Public Schools. Established in September 2000, this independent organization is dedicated to sustaining Madison's public schools by raising funds, making grants and developing partnerships within the community.

"What the foundation was set up to provide is sort of an innovative and creative funding outside of the core school budget," Vukelich-Austin explains. "We are never intended to fund things that are really the responsibility of the school district but to be an enhancement to those or functions of the district."

According to the foundation's Web site, the FMPS has raised more than four million dollars primarily in endowments and has given back more than $350,000 in grants to Madison schools since its establishment.

Non-profit pools of endowment money are being created with no intention of providing tax relief. Grandma can always reverse mortgage her lifetime of equity into property tax payments. Nothing says thank you for a lifetime of responsible citizenship than an unsatisfiable permanent debt. I guess taxing people out of their homes is acceptable as long as there are students willing to ladle soup for social justice.

Collins is a professor of business at Edgewood College. He teaches such classes as Social Responsibility in Business and Ethical Business Practices in Madison. He has his students waiting in line at soup kitchens and volunteering their time with local nonprofit agencies.

Collins explains why Madison businesses give to education: "The public school system is the heart of any community," he says. "That's where the future citizens, the future leaders come out of." Collins says the state of Wisconsin comes up tragically short every year in its ability to finance high schools.

"Madison is extremely progressive, extremely socially conscious. If you're a business and you want to be a player in the city of Madison you want to have a good social conscious because that's just expected of you. The bar in giving is quite high."

Uhhh… “If you're a business and you want to be a player in the city of Madison” has the distinct odor of pay to play, nudge, nudge, wink, wink with six degrees of accounting separation from the school board and city hall. Too cynical? Perhaps, but I’m tired of imagining the pain of under funding because I’m experiencing the pain of over taxation.