Have not as yet created KTM the sequel - too busy bombing my practice SAT-math test.
So, sailing far, far off-topic for D'Ed Reckoning, I'm posting a Help Desk query here.
Does anyone have - or can anyone quickly produce - a sound, illustrative definition of the expressions "money is fungible" and/or "opportunity costs"?
I think some of you have been following the Fields drama here in Irvington: the $4.8 million dollar bond being floated to improve the fields, install artificial turf, build 4 tennis courts, put up stadium lights, etc. This on top of $55 million indebtedness assumed over the past 7 or 8 years.
The bond failed.
The pro-bond forces included the school board, the administration, the high school principal, and the teacher's union.
The high school principal was so pro-bond that he gave the name of the parent who was "heading the committee to defeat the bond" to the union.
The union head called the parent at home to tell her the teachers had voted and they supported the bond.
That parent wasn't heading the committee to defeat the bond, though it was certainly no business of the union's one way or the other if she was.
But she wasn't. No one was heading the committee to defeat the bond because there was no committee. There was no organized opposition at all.
In town the pro-bond forces seemed to include everyone who was anyone, all the machers, big and small.
A group calling itself "Team Irvington" (I'm Chevy Chase and you're not!) put up 800 "Support Our Students Vote Yes" signs all over town one day and paid for zillions of ads featuring large photos of field-less teens staring glumly into the camera. The high school principal signed on with Team Irvington and put his name on all the Team ads along with 20 or 30 or 40 other Prominent Citizens. He wrote his own letter to the editor supporting the bond, and included a pro-bond statement in his MESSAGE FROM THE PRINCIPAL, which arrived in the mail bundled with students' interim grade reports.
Meanwhile the anti-bond people were walking around with bags over their heads.
In a tiny little town like this, the sheer size and force of the pro-bond contingent was unnerving. After Team Irvington's "Support Our Students" signs went up Ed said we had to put up signs, too. I was by then so intimidated I felt too scared to put up signs even after dark, or maybe especially after dark. Even taking Surfer with me I was still scared. I ended up punting.
The next day Ed made even more signs and spent two hours late that night posting them.
Suddenly everyone else started putting up "No" signs under cover of dark, each with a different message. You'd wake up in the morning and: new signs! This went on for days; the townspeople of Irvington had created a Sign Lollapalooza.
My favorite sign was Education not remediation.
I'd love to know who put that one up.
Ed and I counted at least 6 different "No" signs altogether. We don't know who put them up, though we did discover the identity of the mom who wasn't heading the committee to defeat the bond. She put signs up in broad daylight and was followed by two teens in a car. ("Team Irvington" had a huge crew of teenagers working with them.)
After Ed put up signs, I put signs up, too. Naturally I decided to post mine at 10 in the morning just to show I wasn't scared to put up signs.
In retrospect, that was probably dumb.
On election day, the District Clerk laid out all of the Board's many "FAQ"s and "information sheets" on tables in front of the voting booths, next to which stood an easel displaying an architect's drawing of the beautiful plans for our beautiful new fields.
A parent who is an attorney came in to vote around 1 pm, spotted the pro-Bond material, and pointed out to the District Clerk that this was a violation of election law. The Clerk said voters had been coming in asking for information, so she'd put out information.
Word of the Clerk's intervention made the rounds sometime after dark, and at that point Ed and I both figured: debacle.
At 9:30, when the email from the Board saying the bond had been defeated arrived, I couldn't process the numbers. I kept staring at them thinking, "Those numbers look like the bond lost, but that can't be." I had to read the words below the numbers ("The referendum does not pass") to get it. A friend told me she couldn't even process the text, and had to re-read several times before it sank in.
The turn-out was huge, possibly the largest turn-out in recent history.
The immediate concern, post-vote, is that we still need fields. (One of the oddities of the vote was that no one publicly or even privately disputed the core issue, which is the need for capital improvements to athletic facilities which haven't been maintained in years and are suffering from over-use to boot.)
The good thing is that a lot of people will be talking back and forth, figuring out what needs to happen to swing 25 no votes to yes.
Whether the fairly large contingent of parents who were posting signs like Education not remediation can begin to make their message heard is another question.
Which brings me to the help desk.
Tonight's Rivertowns Enterprise quotes both the superintendent and the high school principal saying that voters "didn't understand" the bond.
What we didn't understand was that the bond would have no impact on academics. The bond was separate. It was a bond. You can only use a bond for capitol improvements, not for academics, so, ergo, another $4.8 million in debt will have no effect, none, on academics.
This is quite disheartening.
Parents and residents - lots of parents and residents, not just the usual suspects - spent weeks in the run-up to the election asking the board to address the question of opportunity costs & trade-offs. This question was asked repeatedly, and was not-answered repeatedly. The Board put out FAQ after FAQ after FAQ, not one of which addressed opportunity costs and trade-offs.
Apparently the District plans to carry on not addressing the question. It worked so well in the election, after all.
So I'm disheartened.
I was allowing myself to believe that the District would be humbled by this defeat, which was a bad one any way you slice it. They had everything going for them. They dominated all communication; they sent home one pro-bond communication after another while refusing to give equal time to anti-bond arguments (I asked); they sicced the union on parents; they violated election law.
And they still lost.
Ed says that, historically speaking, it is extremely rare for a disorganized, spontaneous, grass-roots movement to prevail against an organized opponent. The vote may have been close, but the loss is large.
So I was thinking that the first words out of the District's mouth would not be "Parents are dumb."
Ed is writing yet another letter to the editor attempting to explain trade-offs and the fungibility of money.
It's not easy.
I tried to find a simple account in my economics books, but so far no luck.
[update: Ed's letter is pretty good]
If you know a good account, or can write one yourself - or if you have "teaching examples" of money being fungible - I'd love to read.