Several years back, on a conservative social media site, I discussed the importance of elections with a person. Their position was that the only elections that mattered were Federal elections, as these are the only elections that have the power to steal freedoms. I begged to differ then, and I continue to maintain that local elections are more critical, and the most important elections are mayoral and school board elections. All I ask here is to explain; if you disagree, please let’s discuss your thoughts openly; just hear me out, please.
When it comes to taxes, the most noticeable are those experienced locally, Gas Tax, Property Tax, Sales Tax, etc. The local additions to taxes make the national taxes so onerous to pay, but these taxes are all decided by your neighbors and local elections. For example, Phoenix, Arizona, has an 8.6% sales tax, of which 5.6% belongs to the state, and 0.7% belongs to Maricopa County, leaving 2.3% of every penny of purchased goods taxed by local officials. This is just the sales tax, not including all the other government fees, which are taxes, but the government couches these as fees, that oddly enough, sales tax is charged.
When measuring elections, and based solely upon taxes, the more critical election is the local election for city and county offices. I spent four years studying the Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) while residing in Albuquerque, NM. What I found shocked, amazed, frightened, and blew my mind. I do not know your school districts; however, I would presume many of the same problems found in APS are alive and well in your school district. Hence, APS is used here as a warning and a proof of concept that local elections have more dramatic consequences than Federal Elections.
The residential property tax rate in Albuquerque, NM., is 1.05%. With a total grant budget of $1.6 Billion, no numbers have been found for the amount of tax revenue APS is handed; the school district is undoubtedly well funded. From the 2018-2019 school survey on APS performance, we find a common theme from the citizens to the APS school district, reduce administration costs. The answer from APS school administrators was to “Increase Counselors, Social Workers, Security, and other staff to support our student’s mental and physical health … Increase Custodians across the schools [sic].” The Albuquerque Journal reports that APS is the lead agency for taking tax dollar revenues. With Bernalillo County and the City of Albuquerque, plus property taxes, all collected at ridiculous rates, APS must be getting a significant chunk of revenue. Still, APS demands more money, “For the children.”
An Educational Assistant (EA; Teacher’s Aide) was called upon to be a substitute teacher in Seventh Grade math; because APS is bereft of substitute teachers and is experiencing a teacher drought. The EA is not a licensed substitute teacher; thus, when asked how this is legal to have an EA substituting outside her legally licensed work and expertise, she said she “didn’t know” and then acknowledged this is standard practice. The EA further elaborated that when she asked for a substitute teacher because her teacher was out or off, she had a very low probability of ever getting a licensed substitute teacher and generally had to teach the class, with no extra money for doing extra work. The EA has worked in four other states in the US as an Educational Assistant/Teacher’s Aide and has never been licensed to be a substitute teacher; yet, somehow, in APS, she can be regularly called upon to substitute teach.
In discussing teacher performance, another classic APS child abuse issue was concerned, all while a good teacher is being forced out of her position. Because of the teacher drought, APS is experiencing, and due to reduced registrations in a bilingual education school, an illiterate teacher in both Spanish and English, who had to pass a state-mandated test to get the license to teach bilingual students, is going to keep her job for another year. This intellectually challenged teacher has been reported to APS more than a dozen times for swearing, insulting, and not being able to teach. Still, this teacher was just offered a full-time position to teach bilingual students when she cannot speak/read/write in either English or Spanish at an academically acceptable level. Due to falling registrations, a Kindergarten teacher, who was the last one hired at this school, is being terminated. The teacher being released is a stellar teacher, works hard, is well-liked by staff, parents, and students. Since joining APS, this phenomenal teacher has been assigned to “catch” those students from the most impoverished homes and get them up to speed academically. As reported by all who know this teacher, she is exemplary in her assigned duties, fully 180-degrees separate from the illiterate teacher who landed her job under shady circumstances or nepotism. Yet the bad teacher is being kept and the good discharged.
The EA discussed above was called to substitute teach, spent 90-minutes after work writing notes to the regular teacher, and will not be reimbursed for her extra time. Please note, this is 90-minutes on top of her regularly scheduled, non-paid, mandatory overtime. Thus, every day this EA loses 90-minutes of pay at the end of the day and between 60 and 90 minutes at the start of the day, with no reimbursement to cover this employer-mandated time. With a regular school year average of 38-weeks, 5-days per week average worked, and roughly 150-minutes per day unpaid, an average EA salary of $15,116.50 ($9.95 per hour), this EA is losing approximately $2,836.70 each school year
During the summer of 2019, for the first time in 15-years, APS full-time licensed teachers received a pay raise. Not for the first time in 15-years, the teachers saw a slew of additional requirements, mandates, and reductions in alternative licensure to “pay” for the teacher pay raise. All while the school board received yet another pay increase. The voters have already told APS NO on a slew of tax increases and bond sale schemes, yet, in November 2019, APS was trying again to raise taxes, raise money, and raise administrator salaries.
Understanding checkpoint, we have more than one instance of a teacher unable to perform their duties and verbally abusing students. We have a functionally illiterate teacher who landed her position based on either shady circumstances or through nepotism. We have a recorded phenomenal teacher being summarily discharged during a teacher drought. We have citizens, parents, and a concerned community begging for reduced administration, where APS then responds they are increasing administration. Then we have non-licensed staff forced to work outside their licensure because the administration cannot obtain substitute teachers. Plus, the teaching staff is forced to work extra hours without proper compensation.
Where are the more essential elections to focus upon, Federal or City/County/State? The local elections strip more money and freedoms from a person than the federal elections. The local elections represent a template of how national elections are stolen. The provincial election process is where direct and visible harm comes to the citizen. Yet, some people will only vote in federal elections.
If the BS government throws at the people is ever to be culled, we the citizens need first to get control and a positive handle upon the local elections. Make the school board election process more transparent and more responsible to the community they serve. These are your neighbors causing you pain, cheating (abusing) your children of their educational opportunities and costing you thousands of dollars in tax revenues. The local teacher you meet to discuss your child is stuck in a proverbial maelstrom. The administrators are dictating, the student doesn’t understand, the teacher does not have time to explain, and your child is left behind and abused, all because of how the school board operates!
APS holds two titles for performance, APS is the largest school district in New Mexico, and APS has the worst-performing students academically. Why? Not because there are insufficient funds to operate, but because of the elected leaders and the labor unions interfering with how teachers teach! Annually, America spends, per education data.org, on K-12 schools spend $612.7 billion, or $12,612 per pupil. Federal, state, and local governments spend $720.9 billion, or $14,840 per pupil, to fund K-12 public education. Where does the money spent per student go; the United States spends a higher percentage on non-teaching educational staff, which includes school administrators.
Based solely upon the school board performance, what elections are more critical federal or local? It would be best if you decided this for yourself. As for me, I am going to continue paying more attention to the local elections, spending time getting to know candidates running for local offices, judgeships, school boards, mayor, county board, sheriff, and dog catcher, because at the end of the day these are my neighbors. They need to be called out for government malfeasance, theft, and child abuse! I believe that local elections can win or lose the country long before a president takes office.
Per a collection of articles published by Forbes.com, California is the US State with the most out of control debt at$248.67 Billion in liabilities, with $53.05 Billion in assets, or five times more debt than it can pay off if forced into receivership. Who holds that debt remains a murky question due to how each state calculates their debt, who they sell bonds to and other debt financing options? What is clear is that too often, the states with the highest debt have the most out of control spenders in elected offices. Want an eye-opening experience? Look up your city/town/county debt as a portion of the state debt, and ask the elected officials who hold those debt markers? If that politician can even give you a straight and intelligible answer, you are doing better than every other city/town/county in America.
Please, pay closer attention to who is running for public office at all levels of government. But, when faced with critical resource shortages, pay more immediate attention to local elections. By careful design, many local elections have been purposefully made to appear inconsequential, not worth investing your time, and of such extreme unimportance that voting is considered a waste of time. But, from studying history, I know these are the elections where the most attention needs to be paid, and time invested in preventing government overreach, tax burden increases, and loss of rights and liberties.
© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the photos displayed.