Why Can’t The Board Read Between The Lines? A Lesson in the Hidden Costs of Budget Cuts

If the Lansing School Board cuts teacher pay by ‘x’, benefits by ‘y’ and inflation is at ‘z’, what is the cost to students?  How do we solve this problem?  First, we need to look at all the factors: the easy to calculate numbers on an accountant’s blotter and then the hidden price being ignored.

When I, as a teacher, have my economic and employment future lingering in mind it takes (a) from my focus in the classroom.  When I, as a teacher, have to weigh dealing with increases in the cost of living, cuts in my check and whether or not I can afford to buy additional educational supplies for my class or gas for my car, it takes away (b).  When teachers have to consider part time jobs to maintain our past living levels, it takes (c); the ability to come in early or stay late to make sure Johnny can read.

“Sorry, parent/guardian, I can’t stay late to help your child.  I am due at my Wal-Mart job.”

This is not brain surgery or is it?  The school board has already spent (d)- thousands of dollars on spin-doctors, supplemental negotiators, administrative raises, attorneys (to deal with “questionable” negotiation practices) and lost (e) even more in teacher morale, community support and future votes for their actions.  Haggling and shortchanging your gardener or paperboy is one thing but it is not advisable to do with your child?s doctor.  The school board is not just playing with the livelihood of teachers but also with the education and minds of Lansing’s students.     Teachers have a direct impact on the minds of Lansing children.  If you refuse to pay brain surgeons, the best may seek better employment, the average will have diminished morale and feel unappreciated and the rest might become less helpful in attaining our high goal: making sure the children reach their highest cognitive abilities.

At the core of this lesson are metaphors of teachers as brain surgeons, the algebra of hidden costs a, b, c, being greater than savings x, y, z, the social impact of the school board being unjust and the logical science of input and output.  Hopefully, the school board can solve this story problem.  Hopefully, they didn’t miss these lessons twenty-five years ago when teachers last went on strike.

Marcus E. Brown
Lansing, MI

Dear Rina,

I  wanted you to know that I really enjoy your newspaper and think that you are truly a servant to this community. I normally retrieve a copy of your newspaper from the lobby of City Hall.

I could not state that only one thing compelled me to write your newspaper. I merely wanted you to know as an African American writer that there are some police officers that truly care about this community. I further have read your articles on domestic assault and wanted to  acknowledge that police officers are disturbed by this phenomenon as well. We have sisters, wives, daughters, sons, etc., and truly desire for you to understand that we care about your welfare.


Daryl Green
Lansing, MI