We're in another war.
In the same week I'm getting dire emails of possible cuts to my children's already pared-to-the-bone school district, we've suddenly got enough money to bomb another country.
How much money are we really spending in Libya?
According to the National Journal, "Costs of Libya Operation Already Piling Up," the first day alone "had a price tag that was well over $100 million for the U.S. in missiles alone."
One Tomahawk missle costs $1.5 million.
One day. $100 million in missiles. That's money that we just had sitting around, in, well, I don't know, in the government's back pocket somewhere. In with the lint. No big deal.
"Todd Harrison, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said on Monday that the U.S. costs could 'easily pass the $1 billion mark on this operation, regardless of how well things go.'"
$1 billion. That's billion with a B, for a war that wasn't even on the radar a few weeks ago.
My kids go to school in a big suburban district. They've already cut everything. My state, Oregon, has one of the shortest school years in the nation. My district doesn't have orchestra--they already cut the last of it last year. Kids pay nearly $1000 to play in high school marching band. (I played in marching band in the 80s for free). Very little of after-school sports is funded by the schools. They're cutting librarians, principals, custodians. They're raising class sizes in everything, kindergarten through high school.
Here are some of the numbers from my school district. We don't even have numbers from the state yet on what the cuts will be. Instead, these are proposals. Price tags. What they might cut depending on what they don't get. What might be gone next year.
- Four furlough days for all employee groups. (That means four fewer days my kids are in school): $4,744,000 (3.16 Tomahawk missiles)
- Reduce specialists in K-12 Media (25.5 positions) and Youth Services (3 positions). (There goes the librarians): $2,754,843. (1.84 Tomahawk missiles)
- Eliminate high school standards facilitators (6 positions): $525,360 (0.35 Tomahawk missles) (While I don't know what high school standards facilitators are, I'm guessing they have something to do with all the state and federally mandated testing. There are 11,000 high school students in the district. 6 people to keep track of standards for 11,000 students doesn't seem like a lot to me).
- Increase class sizes by 1 student (reduce 35.5 teaching positions): $3,108,000 (2.072 Tomahawk missiles).
The state government is reeling from crisis to crisis like a drunken sailor. I won't know until the fall, likely, what kinds of disaster my kids will face.
Nationally, I know this story is repeated in every district across the country. The country that bailed out Wall Street. The country that invaded Iraq and Afghanistan for untold billions. The country that repeatedly tells state and local governments to balance their budgets, to suck it up, to get through the hard times as best they can.
$1.5 million dollars.
17.13 teachers for a year.
We're in another war.