On the 26th of April, 2005, the Moscow School District will present a levy to the local taxpayers here in Moscow. The levy is for six bazillions of dollars, or might as well be. And there are as many reasons for opposing the levy as there are dollars involved, but the fundamental issues are not really financial. At the same time, the financial issues are not trivial. With this election coming up, I thought I would briefly state some of the reasons the levy should be voted down. And then when it is repackaged, and presented again, it should be voted down again.
1. The MSD needs to recognize that they are asking for this money in a polarized community. That polarization has included more than a little malicious harassment of local private schools. Some vocal supporters of the levy have been involved in this harassment, and it is hard to escape the conclusion that the levy is part of a larger strategy of suppressing educational alternatives.
2. The MSD needs to recognize that (apart from those in the private education sector that they have alienated) many supporters of public education in principle can still recognize waste and mismanagement when they see it. Compared to other schools throughout Idaho, grazing contentedly in their pastures, the MSD budget is bloated like a cow that has been in the Rio Grande for three days.
3. The MSD needs to recognize that rosy projections of enrollment growth are not consistent with the recent trends and history.
4. The MSD needs to realize that there are reasons for the recent enrollment trends, and that it is possible to find out what those reasons are.
5. The MSD has to come to grips with the fact that educational opportunities and alternatives are good — and by this I mean homeschooling, internet tutorials, homeschool coops, private schools, additional private schools, etc. The more choices parents have, the more likely it is that they will be able to get what their child needs educationally. A vote for the levy will not be, as it will likely urged upon us, a vote “for the kids,” but rather will be a vote to reduce educational choices. And consequently, there will be many taxpayers who will be voting no . . . for the kids.