John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education

What I Got for Firing All the Teachers

John Gardner
President

I was urged recently by one of my colleagues to try to be more positive in my blog. And I have been trying. But I think I am losing the battle. This is about the most recent example of my struggle.
Last Friday July 1 when I engaged in one of my great daily pleasures, purchasing my New York Times, I got a clue, but one I didn’t pick up on immediately. Each morning, seven days a week, when I am in town, I go into this shop that sells good newspapers, thank goodness, to small town citizens like me in the western North Carolina mountain town of 6000 people where I live. The clerks know me by name, and more than that. And they never fail to engage me in conversation which is very easily done.
So last Friday the clerk says, “You get to pay two cents less today in tax on your paper.” At first it didn’t dawn on me the significance of what she told me.
Five days later I have figured it out.

In my adopted state last November the voters, as was their right, turned over both houses of the State Legislature to one political party that hadn’t controlled both houses for a century. And one of the actions that party took was ending a temporary half cent on the dollar sales tax that was due to expire this June 30. And with the expiration of that tax no longer being paid by 9.5 million residents, it meant that the state had significantly less revenue to operate on. As a result the new budget  has cut about 20,000  teacher/education related jobs, massively cut preschool education and whacked higher education like nothing since the Great Depression.

And so I suddenly realized this is what I get/got. I get to pay 2 cents less a day. And 20,000 of my fellow citizens lost their jobs. I am so priveleged. I am a higher educator that still has a job and now 2 cents more a day to get by on. This has finally come home to me in a way I can measure. Now I get it.

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