The Warwick school department is considering closing up to three schools, and predictably, people aren’t happy about it:
So far, the city has fielded complaints of traffic jams, unfinished construction projects and overcrowding at Warwick’s high schools.
And in an excellent civics lesson, democracy is producing candidates implying they’ll make all the problems go away if elected:
School committee candidate Dean Johnson said he lives nearby and sees the problems every day.
“Nothing but traffic,” he said. “It was 15 minutes from Benny’s to Pilgrim – it was absolutely ridiculous.”
Fellow school committee candidate Nathan Cornell is just 18 years old and said he still has friends in high school.
“At the first day, I called them and say, ‘how was school for you,’” he said. “And they told me it was crowded, especially the lunchrooms.”
Rhode Islanders want to run things as if the state is economically healthy and growing. It’s not. When I looked at Warwick’s population in 2012, it had dropped nearly 4% from the 2000 Census to the 2010 Census. This May, I wondered how the school department could be considering any raises at all (let alone the 10% per year the teachers union reportedly wanted) with a smaller, less-working population with shrunken house values, and what justification there could be when the under-performing district had seen its enrollment drop 34% since the 2000-2001 school year.
Look, if you want neighborhood schools, you need the population and the enrollment to support them. If you want small class sizes, you need to control the costs of teachers. Rhode Islanders can’t keep up the economy-strangling approach to government and the union-gorging approach to employees and expect to maintain the quality of life they’ve enjoyed. It is not paradoxical to observe that when you let government take more money from you and your neighbors and to limit your freedoms, you wind up getting less from government.
What will it take to make Rhode Islanders realize this? Or more precisely, what will it take to make Rhode Islanders realize this and then change things rather than simply move away?