Chris Graham: A catastrophe in the making

That’s how I’m describing the budget-wrangling in Richmond that will effectively reduce state spending on K-12 education in Virginia.

The moves – forced by Gov. Bob McDonnell’s push on funding for the Virginia Retirement System for public-sector employees – are forcing the hands of local decision-makers. Local government, of course, is where the rubber hits the road. For all the talk of cuts in Washington and Richmond, when cuts are made at City Hall or the County Government Center, it’s not a budget bottom line being cut, but people and services.

And in public schools, when you’re talking about cuts to people and services, you’re talking teachers and students.

So here’s what happens: We let legislators and a governor in Richmond put out press releases about how they held the line on taxes and spending, and we force local town and city councils and boards of supervisors to raise them to meet the funding gap, or those same locally elected leaders decide they can’t raise taxes to meet the gap and in the process we force the hands of school boards to cut classroom teaching positions, which account for the bulk of spending on schools.

Now, how likely is any locally elected council or board of supervisors member to support a tax increase, right? Not going to happen, not on a wide scale, anyway. So take that one off the table. Which leaves us with … fewer teachers, bigger class sizes, less opportunities for one-on-one interaction to help struggling students …

Kids are becoming commodities now. As some commenters on one local-newspaper blog derisively refer to them, “precious treasures,” that we’re not treating as such. Kids are widgets, and we need to reduce the price-per-unit to produce them.

It’s a race to the bottom, and we can almost guarantee where this is going to end up. The kids of today, soon to be the workers of tomorrow, the business entrepreneurs of tomorrow, the leaders of tomorrow, are going to go armed into that battle for the future with less in their arsenal that my generation did, than my parents’ generation did.

It’s not debt that is our greatest enemy. To borrow from a long-ago battlefield observation, we have met the enemy, and it is us.

It’s one thing to cut corners in transportation – all that means is unsafe roads killing a few dozen more people a year. Or to cut corners in the delivery of health care – so a few more of us lack basic access and the herd thins a little more quickly as a result.

Or to cut corners in defense – wait a second, no, because we don’t do that in this country. The Pentagon is sacrosanct.

But to cut corners in education, that’s … that’s us cutting corners to save a few dollars today at the expense of our very continued existence as a productive society tomorrow.

To those who bemoan the ability of the United States to be able to continue as the world’s leading economic and military power in the face of the stiff competition expected to come from the rise of China and India to our East, well, to borrow from another observation ostensibly from the world of agriculture, you reap what you sow.



augusta free press
augusta free press news

UVA Basketball Fans!

uva basketball team of destiny
Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is available for $25. The book, with additional reporting by Zach Pereles, Scott Ratcliffe, and Scott German, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018 through to the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.

Dick Vitale on Team of Destiny: “This is a hoops story you will LOVE! Jerry and Chris capture the sensational and dramatic championship journey by Tony Bennett and his tenacious Cavalier team. UVA was Awesome Baby and so is this book!”

Ralph Sampson on Team of Destiny: “Jerry and Chris have lived and seen it all, even before my time. I highly recommend this book to every basketball fan across the globe. This story translates to all who know defeat and how to overcome it!”

Buy here.

AFP Business

As professional consultants, Augusta Free Press LLC provides clients in the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia and beyond with marketing and PR solutions including website design, SEO, TV/radio, video work, branding and logos, social media and overall marketing campaign design and implementation. Augusta Free Press LLC was founded in 2002.

Web Design

Augusta Free Press has designed more than 800 websites for clients in the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia. We take care of all facets of web design – visual design, layout design, content development and SEO. Short on staff? We’ll work with you to update your AFP-designed website in a timely manner or train your staff to make changes.

Marketing/Social Media Management

Augusta Free Press manages advertising campaigns for small- and medium-sized businesses across Virginia. You don’t need to hire a full-time marketing coordinator. Bring the experience of the Augusta Free Press team to work for you – for a fraction of the cost.

Graphic Design

Augusta Free Press will help you take your vision to the next level. From branding and logos to print materials, our team will work with you to develop products to showcase your business. From brochures and rack cards to full-color magazines or print/digital ads, we’ve got you covered.

Event Planning/Fundraising

Augusta Free Press will help you plan the best event for your organization. From an open house or anniversary to a 5K or Pay Per View, we can handle it all. Looking for training for your sales staff? We can help energize your employees or board. Need ideas to raise more money? Let us help you plan a successful event. Want to hold a news conference or need help with a press release? We can do that too.

Click here for more.