Monday, February 25, 2008

Drive Time

Yesterday afternoon when I pulled onto I-70 Eastbound, there was 650 miles and 9 hours between me and Nashville. The trip doesn't sound like anything one should look forward to as great expanses of nothingness lie ahead for the driver. However, my child had already flown to Nashville and landed safely before I even departed Kansas City. So I had 9 hours of time to pass with my ipod, some great cigars, and my cell phone. Nothing could be better.

I crave this kind of down time. I don't want or need it very often, but all people need some method to process things; to take in the big picture; to put it all in perspective. Driving seems to be my method.

I usually start the trip with a long conversation with one of my friends on the phone where invariably there is something discussed that sets tone for my thinking for the remainder of the long trip. Yesterday I was given the problem of the cyclic method of public school funding to solve. I almost had it.

Something happens to my mind by the time darkness falls and the red tail lights are my only company 30 miles south of St. Louis. It's like my mind is chasing after an answer that is right in front of me, and all I have to do to find it is slow down my mind and see the whole board, like in chess.

I pondered instituting vocational schools for children failing after the age of 15 with the same compulsory attendance laws until a child's 18th birthday.

I considered pooling state-wide taxes into one central pot and dispersing the funds evenly, but I concluded it would be to the determinate of the good schools in good areas without having done a whole lot to help the failing and underfunded schools.

I thought on restructured tax systems to build on the property tax for education, and even the transferring of monies from state programs with a budget surplus to help build a bigger funding pool for schools below a certain level of success and funds. But those surplus laden programs are few and far between.

Many states have a lottery, but I can line up study after study that proves lottery money, when evenly disrubuted among failing schools, just isn't plentiful enough to make big dents.

I even chewed on total privatization just to explore all the options; and other than the fact that it would undermine almost every State Constitution and several U.S. District court rulings, not to mention it deprives the poorest of their chance at a solid education, it was just fine.

When I rolled into the driveway at 5009 Stillwood Drive around 10:45 I had chased this problem for 570 miles, 5 states, 4 cigars, and 3 mochas without anything of real substance as a firm answer. It did accomplish something, as it made me a little more stubborn and a little more focused on fixing the problem.

I plan on taking a lot of counsel around my parent's fire this week with some men and women who have been at this a lot longer than I have. I'm gonna keep looking for the answers in thought and prayer, and I hope you will too. If you ever think upon any subject like this, I hope you won't hesitate to hammer out your thoughts on The Bunkhouse.

If you're in Nashville, I hope to see you this week around the fire! Have a great Monday.


Anonymous said...

lotteries are the answer!!!

Cameron Clark said...

You know, I haven't ceded this point yet, but when discussing education an observer would be remiss to leave out that parenting plays an important role in the betterment of education.

Therefore, we may already have yet another lost generation to the cycle for all those children who are currently 6th grade and above.

Pretty sad, and no amount of money can fix lazy, stupid, or just plan sorry.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it funny that we take money for those who are mathmatically challenged (the lottery) to help help improve the education of those in schools. Schools that are typically do not have alot of money and are historically poor at math (and science). Is this self-defeating or does it just expose our lack of confidence in our own efforts to better the system? =)

(I know it's alot more complicated than that=)).

Cat said...

Cameron, we should have made plans to see you this weekend! I was in an international soccer coaches clinic in Kansas City and Chris and the kiddos came with me for the weekend. We got there Friday afternoon and left out Sunday mid-morning. It's a long drive back to Memphis, but I think ours was only 557 miles versus your 650.

J. Canterbury said...

Happy birthday, Roon!