The children pay

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 3, 2003

The people have spoken, and the children are paying for it.

Because at least two-thirds of the voters in this state chose to vote against Amendment I, schools across the state, including Andalusia, are experiencing the financial backlash of state cuts. Millions were cut from the state's educational program, with Andalusia City School losing almost a third of a million dollars in state funding, Translated, that means no new text books, no new technology development, and no new professional development.

And folks, you ain't seen nothin' yet.

This year, the state had the advantage of the money, one-time Federal funding that kept schools from closing and hundreds - instead of dozens - of jobs from being lost. Next year, there are no foundation funds, there is no safety net, and there will be about $285 million less in the state's Education Fund. That translates to more than a few math books and computer courses. That translates to math teachers, computers, music programs, art programs, and much, much more.

It creates a whirlpool of cause and effect. The less our schools have to offer, the less inclined industry will be to relocate here - who wants to send their kids to a school that offers "Readin', writin' and 'rithmatic" and only "Readin,' writin' and 'rithmatic"? With weaker math and technology skills, we weaken the employment pool - yet another strike against us as we try to recruit more industry.

As fewer and fewer industries come our way and more and more depart, we lose yet more revenue, and more funding to the schools, and the whirlpool continues its downward spiral, dragging Alabama back - not to the 20th Century, but the 19th.

We had the chance to break that spiral, and with one eye on our own bank balances, chose not to. We can only hope that those who gave so generously to the coalition fighting Amendment 1 will be just as generous when school children come knocking on their doors selling wrapping paper to raise money for textbooks.