Last night I watched a disturbing local news report about a first grader in Latta, Oklahoma who gave his teacher a dime and three nickels after hearing that Oklahoma schools are having money problems. I know it was meant to be a heart-warming “ahhhhh” moment about the thoughtfulness of a child, but it made me angry to realize that a child that young is even aware of our budget crisis.
A few days earlier this week I encountered a teacher who had spilled some change from an envelope she was clutching in her hand. As she picked it up she explained to me that it was “fund raiser” money that she had been collecting. I’ve already been approached this year by students in our neighborhood collecting money for various educational needs. Hearing a second-grader recite her little rehearsed sales pitch makes me wonder when and why we started sending our children out to beg. I don’t recall doing it when I went to school. The only time we raised money was for a charity or a crisis. Unfortunately our public school system is now in a permanent state of crisis.
This is just a glimpse of the crisis, as reported last month on Oklahoma Watch:
“Another $19 million could be cut from Oklahoma’s public schools as early as next month, potentially raising the total mid-year revenue reduction to $66 million.
The additional cut would fall on top of $47 million in cuts enacted last week by the state Board of Education, acting on advice from state schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister.
Shawn Hime, director of the Oklahoma State School Boards Association, said if additional cuts occur, as projected by the state Board of Equalization, he would not be surprised to see layoffs at schools. State Schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister last week predicted that some schools could close.”
And Oklahoma is not alone on this suicidal path. Nearly every state is facing education budget reductions that will impact the future of our children and our country. How ironic then that our presidential candidates are wasting more money each day on advertising than is spent annually to educate a child. These figures were reported in 2015 as the latest per pupil spending totals:
“States and state-equivalents spending the most per pupil in 2013 were New York ($19,818), Alaska ($18,175), the District of Columbia ($17,953), New Jersey ($17,572) and Connecticut ($16,631). States spending the least per pupil included Utah ($6,555), Idaho ($6,791), Arizona ($7,208), Oklahoma ($7,672) and Mississippi ($8,130).”
Last night I also watched a TV ad featuring Bernie Sanders, and I wondered for the hundredth time this year, “Why do the candidates bother to advertise?”
The purpose of television advertising used to be to introduce a candidate to the public and to clarify his beliefs and plans. In the past a man like Mr. Sanders might not have been recognized on the west coast and some viewers might have needed a refresher course in socialism. However, this campaign and these candidates have been on television, in the news, and gotten more FREE publicity this year than in any other election year. I am about to wear out the “mute” button on my remote because they are literally in the news EVERY SINGLE DAY.
Studies show that many younger voters don’t even watch television.
Television advertising is becoming less effective because people record programs in order to delete the commercials.
So why on earth is this group predicted to spend at least $5 billion on ADVERTISING?
I find it especially upsetting to think about the money they are wasting when most of their advertising is focused on damaging the reputation of their opponents.
I have absolutely no respect for the hateful rhetoric expressed by Donald Trump, but one has to admit that he has the ability to manipulate the media in such a way that he has required very little advertising. For a man with limitless funds he has had to spend very little to publicize his distorted views.
I have an idea for the candidates. Why not put your money where your mouth is? Why not donate money to your favorite cause or charity instead of to an ad agency? Believe me, we would all hear about it. Or launch an ad campaign about your plans for our future, not your rival’s shortcomings.
What if there was an individual going around the country doing good deeds, encouraging others, solving problems, spending money wisely, and telling the truth? I don’t think they would have to spend $50,000 for 30 seconds of publicity. And wouldn’t we want to elect that person?