Fix the Budget Woes with One Word · 21 December 2011

I have a simple plan to fix all the state of Washington’s fiscal woes. It only involves one word and it would take an act of Congress to come to fruition. But this modest proposal would fix Washington’s financial problems.

The simple fix for all of Washington’s fiscal problems is to simply change the constitution with a single word – “not.” Article IX of the state constitution takes much of the state’s annual budget. The Article is about education and the following change to Article IX, Section One would get rid of much of the financial burden on Washington’s cash flow:

It is NOT the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders…

Placing “NOT” in the section would free up all the education dollars and make budget cuts in other areas smaller or even unnecessary. According to many pundits, the current state of education is abhorrent and the system needs to be overhauled anyway. So instead of trying to fix schools by enacting legislation without proper funding behind it, maybe the state should get out of the education business altogether.

Many people believe that there are plenty of resources on TV and the internet which could be used to replace teachers. I can just imagine all the learning that would take place when all public schools shut their doors and parents figured out that they could merely put their kids in front of the computer and leave for work. The internet would be alive with learning and kids would be so much more ready for entering the work force than they currently are when they leave the much maligned halls of public education. And they could enter that workforce at a much younger age without their teachers getting in the way.

Students would not be the only ones who benefited from this modest proposal. Teachers and others employed by the public schools would be free to find jobs where they could make a difference in society or at least make more money. And the state would not be footing the bill. I imagine lots of different businesses being started by those currently employed in education. Some might even take seriously the thought that they could make more money being baby sitters than educators (thirty kids for eight hours for 180 days at $10/hour is over $400,000).

People believe that there are no easy fixes to the budget crisis facing Washington legislators, but what could be simpler than adding a single word to the constitution. True, the state legislature would need to pass the amendment to the constitution, but without the drain of funding education, the state would be free to build bridges, fix potholes, and rescue people economically. (There might be more people to rescue later, but future legislative sessions could wrestle with those issues.)

The simple fix I propose should sit very well with those who govern the state. After all, the currently proposed budgets fit the addition of NOT to Article IX of the state constitution. After all, cutting pay for teachers and lowering the number of days students attend school only makes sense with a new Article IX. With the current wording of the constitution, legislation to cut schools beyond the bare bones they are already operating under seems more than wrong. It might even be considered illegal or unconstitutional. However, with the new word in Article IX, there would never be a question to the legality and even rightness of denying everybody free public education.

The experiment of free public education can finally come to an end in the state of Washington with a single word. Those involved with education including the students would be free to pursue other endeavors and contribute to the good of the state in ways that do not take from its coffers. Students would be able to say once and for all, “No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks.” All with one modest proposal. All with one simple word. NOT!

© 2011 Michael T. Miyoshi

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13 December 2011 in The Monroe Monitor & Valley News
19 December 2011 in River Current News


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