Why vote for school taxes? My kids are out.

That’s the prevailing attitude among the more-established residents of this town, the ones who moved here a generation or two ago to get a nice house in the suburbs. Now the kids are gone, usually not still living here, the house and the community is too familiar to leave, its value has gone up with the real estate boom of the last couple of decades, but maybe they didn’t save enough for retirement and they’re looking to dump all expenses. My family has been here for 20 years, so don’t start, okay?

But that’s the attitude that takes over whenever it’s time to raise the money for something that doesn’t affect them directly and personally. A new fire station? To hell with that; I live in a brick house. Replace the ancient water pipes? The water looks safe enough in my area. Keep the school budget at least stable? My kids are gone, I don’t even know any of these younguns, just that they keep pestering me for candy at Halloween. Twenty more bucks a year? Hell, that’s my slot machine money for the Foxwoods trips from the Senior Center. Them damn kids ain’t taking it away.
I just got back from a student-organized rally at Town Hall after the latest bombshell. Even with the last tax issue actually passed, by less than a percent, Town Meeting still didn’t see fit to avoid cutting another 10% or so out of the school budget, after several consecutive years of budget cuts.

No more sports - the hockey team that won the last 2 state titles is gone, so is the state champ girls softball team. No more extracurricular activities at all - the band that had been growing so rapidly and playing so well the last few years is gone. No drama club; those kids are cute but they’ll get over it. Everybody just go home or to your jobs at the mall at 2.

For a lot of these kids, mine included, the extracurriculars were the primary reason to go to school. The jocks had something to belong to, something to give them discipline and goals. The younger kids had a goal available of playing for the high school some day - that includes our famous Little Leaguers. Now, they’ll either be on the streets, or, if their parents can afford Catholic school or moving, they’re just gone.

The music and drama programs, and all the others, broadened their participants, too - they had something to belong to and goals to reach, too. Now, there’s no more reason to stay, no more reason to take pride in this school.

Just 5 years ago, the high school was on the US News & World Report list of the 100 most outstanding ones in the country. After years of erosion, it’s down to the legal minimums.

It’s too late for me to do much for my family about this - my son has graduated, and my daughter has just 2 more years. She wants to stay with her friends, and we respect and agree with that. It’s too close to the next school year for most other kids who’d want to transfer somewhere that gives a damn to do it, even if it’s affordable.
So, I hope you’re happy, all you smug, insular, folks who don’t accept that you have responsibilities as part of this community. The property values that you have counted on are about to plummet as younger buyers with children look elsewhere, and as the families with children look to bail out (there’s at least one other prominent Doper in this town with young, bright children, and I’d be curious to know what he’s thinking). With all the things that make a school system real stripped, and the support base for it leaving and not being replaced, it’s going to be another generation before it comes back - if that happens. This town had been a nice, stable, middle-class suburb, but it’s about to turn into a slum, where only old folks and poorer ones on their way up and out would want to come. Yes, there is some possibility of emergency funding from the state that would tide the system over for another year, but that won’t matter much - the problem is long-term and it isn’t going away.

I hate this attitude, myself. I’m not directly affected it, as I’m not married, have no kids, and have been out of the public school systems since 1980. But if seniors, retirees, DINKs, and all the others should be excused from paying school taxes, I wanna be excused paying into Social Security. It’s not like I’m going to get any of that money. Hell’s bells, I’ve been unemployed for years, now, and effectively unemployable and I can’t get Social Security to agree I’m disabled. You don’t pay taxes just to pay into the things that affect you directly, people. The whole purpose of community funding for things like schools, fire fighting, police, even Social Security, is that as a whole these expenditures benefit the whole cummunity. Get your heads out of your ass, or at least start piping in oxygen, people. Or do you care that if the schools go to Hell you won’t have firefighters in 30 years? Ferchrissakes, you want the benefit of an educated workforce pay the freight! Or don’t whine when the property values start dropping :wally .

I love the idiotic sensabilaties of these folks. The children going through the school system now will be the doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals taking care of the very same people who don’t want to pay higher taxes! Way to slit your own throat.

It must be a New England thing. Same thing has been happening in my hometown for years. My high school was on the verge of losing its accredidation, you know the little thing that lets colleges know that the school meets all requirements. It needed more money, but the town and its senior citizens overwhelmingly voted it down. Couldn’t support more money for the schools. The school managed to recover but still. So very disappointing.

God forbid we pay the fire department and police officers a decent salary. They’re down to the bare minimum and have a bare bones staff. We need 2 fire stations in our town but people don’t want to pony up. Guess they’d rather have their houes burn down.

I feel your pain. It sucks. Really.

carimwc, no, it’s not just a New England thing. It’s nationwide. And it’s been growing for years, now. And it’s a **[CENSORED] ** travesty. The really sick thing about it is that it cuts across both political parties, all social groups, and econmic classes. I could almost understand it from an uneducated urban or rural poor electorate - it’s still stupid but they may not have had basic high school civics. But when it comes for educated middle class and up it’s [CENSORED] revolting.

The irony is that shelling out some tax money to support the local schools actually makes economic sense, even for folks with no kids. Unless you intend to live in the same house until you keel over, there’s going to come a time when you want to sell that house, and buy your way into a life care community, or at least into a nice retirement village somewhere. Guess what happens to the value of your house if the local schools have a good reputation?

So, even if you’re a miserably selfish jerk, it’s still in your self interest to pay enough taxes to make sure the schools are good.

This attitude isn’t confined to one region. There are some folks in an upper crusty enclave not too far away who couldn’t be the least bit concerned with anyone or anything outside of their own immediate surroundings, even when it comes to kids and schooling. Evidently the word “community” does not apply outside of their city limits.

Yeah, you all say that now. But when you’re in your fifties, and some little twenty-something piece of shit gets promoted past you, remember that if you hadn’t voted for school funding, that fucker would be working as a janitor and you would have that corner office.

I hope this is something that’s Whooshing me as a joke I don’t find funny.

'Cause if you’re serious… <wanders off shaking head>

Just please remember there’s more than one side to this. The part about needing educated young people, and about property values, is all very true. However, many of those voting against more taxes are on a fixed income. Maybe it’s a pension, maybe social security, savings, 401K and IRA, or some combination of the above. But for most, what they have is what they have and there will never be any more. When they’re being charged more and more every year just to live in their own house, it’s kind of tough not to be upset about it.

Here’s another thing: Check out how many people voted in the last local election for school board, school budget, or even town council (or the equivalent thereof in your town). Now check out the total school population. Even allowing for more than one child per family, and your occasional single-parent household, there is most likely at least one potential voter for each student. Did they all vote? Probably not.

I always vote against any bond measure for the schools. Always. (I live in Los Angeles)

People say “if you don’t vote for the bond, the kids don’t get what they need!”. To which I respond “if you DO vote for the bond, the kids STILL don’t get what they need!”

Sadly, the voters here seem to rubber stamp bond initiatives. They seem to forget that the bond money never gets to where it was promised to go, or that those in charge of the Los Angeles Unified School District already have an 8 BILLION dollar yearly budget to sqaunder. And they do squander it.

So, are you sure they don’t want to spend the money? Or could it be that they don’t want to *waste * the money because they believe those entrusted with it will use for their own purposes and not on the kids?

No argument here. And worse, let’s admit that in many places worsening school quality is actually being linked to hemmorhaging budgets. My objections are not so much about people who want to control school spending - but those vocal idiots who believe they should get a complete pass on school taxes because they don’t have students in the system themselves. Though the situation in the OP seems to be a well-to-do community turning it’s back on education completely, not trying to control unreasonable costs.

Locally, the county is having to cut some vital services to stay within its means. One decision that became a political football was that they had decided, reluctantly, to stop funding the city school’s nurse program. And suddenly it was the evil, greedy and rich county screwing the kids in the city, according to the civil servants union, at least. The reality is that the county is being very hard hit by the economy, and doesn’t really have more money available for a program that had been set up at a time when the county was cash rich. Add to the fact that the city schools had, mostly through mismanagement, posted a 56 million dollar budget deficit two years ago, and the county helped (along with the city and state) to make that good, there is little sense that the city schools can use money wisely. Add the school worker’s attitudes about being entitled to these jobs, no matter what other problems there may be, and you can build up a lot of negative emotion.

So, I do understand what you’re saying, MLS. Though, frankly, as a non-jock, some of the OP’s claims left me… cold is about the kindest I can say. (Though when sports are getting cut that deeply, my cynicism tells me that the budget must be getting slashed like a Mary Kelly, since the jock quorum is always the most vocal and effective of the parent-teacher alliances.) Also, to be honest, unless the community is moribund, I’d be surprised if more than about 30-40% of the tax revenues come from people on fixed incomes, such as retirees. If you’ll notice the OP was far more concerned about empty-nesters, or DINKs than the effect of retirees. Those are the ones whom I, at least, was railing against. And not for controlling costs, really, but for wanting to get out of paying school taxes at all.

spooje, I hope you, too, can see the point I’m trying to make here. Frankly, I don’t know enough about the LAUSD to have any comment, but refusing to pass a bond issue, or even voting against it, isn’t the same thing as those people who want to avoid paying anything to the schools at all.

What, you think it’s just school taxes? These ignorant fucks don’t want to pay any taxes at all for anything!

Why should I pay for the fire department? I’ve never had a fire!

Why should I pay for the FAA? I never fly!

Why should I pay for Food Stamps? I can afford food, let those fuckers starve, I say!

Why should I pay for a military? They just start damn fool wars anyway!

Why should I pay a gas tax? A sales tax? A bridge toll? Why Why Why?

This is Amercia, damn it! We don’t need no stinking taxes!

Lift yourself up by your bootstraps, fella!

No, I know it’s more than just school taxes, but as one of the largest ticket items actually controlled at a local level, it’s where that attitude can do the most damage. Your average malcontent can’t fillibuster the combined Houses of Congress about the sins of paying for a military, but he can at a town meeting when talking about what to pay the Police or Firemen.

Sir, I give you the Belmont Learning Center!

They’ve already spent 200 million on it, and it’s never housed a single student. They say it’ll cost another 100 million to get it finished. (which I consider a naive estimate) And they seem obsessed with finishing it.

It’s already the most expensive high school in history! It was planned to allieve the horrendous overcrowding of LAUSD schools. Current propsals now plan on serving only half as many students as the original plan. IF it ever gets finished.

Umm… spooje? I think I whooshed you.

I am trying to say that you sound like you have some pretty good reasons for what positions you have. And you don’t sound like you’re trying to get out of paying school taxes because you don’t have any school aged children. And, frankly, any bureaucracy that is spending two billion a year is something I would distrust as a matter of course.

My objection is for that minority of people who feel that they should only pay for those government services they actually use on a regular basis.

But I’m saying the OP’s assuming motives. While I’m sure that there are people who feel that way, I don’t know if we can assume they feel that way simply because they do not vote for the taxes. They may well have other, more reasonable motives.

Gotcha, when you quoted my earlier post, however, I got the impression you had missed completely what I had been trying to say to you. :slight_smile:

Having said that, I’ve spoken with educated, working people who honestly support the idea of not paying any school taxes since they don’t have any school aged children. Not just one, or two, but more than I care to count. So, while it’s valid to say that you can’t assume any specific person’s motives, it is fair, in my mind, to assume that a certain fraction of those voting are represented by that kind of thinking.



One group that irritates me is the ones who choose to send their kid to private school and then gripe that they have to also pay school taxes that they “aren’t getting anything for.” Of course, here in NJ, the local taxes provide transportation, some textbooks, and certain other special services. For example, if there’s a child in private school who needs help with speech therapy, learning disability, etc., the public school must provide it. And of course, if the private school won’t accept your kid, or throws him out because he’s got a problem they can’t deal with, the public school must be there waiting to deal with it. The private schools for the most part only take the average or above average ones with no particular special needs.

It also is irritating that most schools spend about a gazillion dollars in providing a football program but a pittance on programs for the intellectually gifted. But that’s another rant altogether.