Sunday, March 25, 2012

Attention on deck! Sound the Blitzkrieg warning!

We had two memorable experiences this recent Friday morning.

First, Side put himself in the hands of his urologist for a cystoscopy at PAMC.  (We know, TMI; but it’s necessary to make a persuasive point.)

Second, immediately after, we stopped at Frosty’s, and over a still warm Chubby Checker (twist) and coffee, read this item:

Here’s your challenge: guess which was more unpleasant.

If you picked the urological procedure, Bzzzzzzzz! The studio audience says WRONG!  But they want you to have a free second guess.

Ding-Ding-Ding!  Correct-a-mundo!  “Brunswick’s tradition of valuing education” is the winner.

So let’s begin, even though we don’t know where to begin.  Not that it’s stopped us from rambling on before.

From time to time we hear economics referred to as ‘the dismal science,’ though the origins of that interpretation are a tad confusing.  We submit, however, that this commentary argues eloquently for the dismal label.

Now, consider the opening statement.

In light of the recently announced $1.2 million reduction in state aid for Brunswick’s schools, how much are we willing to pay for high-quality public schools?

It embodies, ever so perfectly, two of the sacred mantras of big public education:

  • it’s never, ever about spending; it’s always about revenue;
  • paying more is a necessary and sufficient condition for ‘quality education.’

Add to that this later statement, whose premise is unsubstantiated in the typical fashion of the spend more, spend more contingent:

As the state withdraws its support, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to send a clear message renewing our commitment to providing among the best schools in the state.

Other comments in the column echo what has become standard fare from the “don’t worry, be happy” governing class in Brunswick.  ‘Strong business growth’ at the former Naval Air Station, though any such growth, if it exists, comes via taxpayer wallets. 

‘Attracting new residents’ and ‘more economic activity;’ this from authors who cite a variety of census data and other sources.  Would you like a refill on your cup of guilt, sir?

Somehow our authors missed the memo showing Maine is in a demographic winter, and shipping its young human capital out of state.  They must have been out to lunch when it arrived.

While we’d like to explore how they know that Brunswick schools are excellent, other than that they attended them, we won’t.  And we’ll similarly not explore why, for example, not giving teachers generous automatic annual compensation increases will make our schools non-excellent.

Cutting to the bottom line, the overarching premise of the column, cunningly unstated, is that dollars spent equates directly to quality of education.  The more you spend, the more you learn.

Now that we know dollars are the measure of quality in education, we offer our condolences to those of you with degrees or credentials from the UMaine System or our Community Colleges.  It must be nearly impossible to get by with a substandard education compared to one from Bates, Bowdoin, Colby, or FITBU.  (Fill In The Blank U.)

We’re painfully aware of what a handicap this can be. This reporter is a graduate of a state college, and has suffered lack of self-esteem for decades, not to mention no respect from the local aristocracy.  It’s probably why we’re so irascible. 

We had hoped advanced degrees from a well known private university would help, but we still drive a pick-up truck.  So in the arena of things that really matter, we’re still just a member of the bourgeoisie.

Making things worse, we handicapped our daughter by sending her off to a state university.  But we love her just the same, in spite of her shortcomings.

Oh; in keeping with our tradition, one more point.  The column we’re discussing refers to multi-generational experiences.

You want multi-generational memories?  We think we span all three covered in this opinion piece.  We remember when we had to learn in school, and if we didn’t, we were held back, and even worse, wouldn’t graduate.  And if we misbehaved, we paid the price, including answering to our parents.

Oh, we learned.  Because there were expectations, and teaching of the basics before all the other fluff and distractions instituted by modern day experts.  Somehow, these experts decided that learning the basics simply wasn’t good enough, so they invented value neutral education, open classrooms ‘pods,’ self-esteem promotions, and seat-time graduation.

Fat lot of good that’s all done.  Apparently, all it will take is spending a good deal more to reverse all this progress.  And so we have suggestions of cashing in municipal facilities.

The obvious question is what will we sell off next year when enrollment is even lower and the budget even higher?  And the year after that, and after that?

“Brunswick: a town gone mad.”  A well known town personality, now deceased, uttered that to us a few years back.  If he could only see us now.

OMFG. Can you feel the guilt weighing heavy on your shoulders and your heart?

We sure can.


blitzkrieg refers to the “tactic of rapidly advancing armored forces and massive air support.”


  1. Dear Mr. Poppycock: As I had emailed you, this article once again proved concusively that stupidity is hereditary.

  2. Dear Mr. Poppycock,

    First, always imbibe of your Frosty's fare before reading any local news.

    Second, great points you make here.

    I'm wondering when the realtors will chime in.