Schools are perhaps the greatest example of an institution that should not be responding to economic data as if they were producing sausage casings. Here's today's Washington Post, in an article headlined, "Recession Could Result in Deep School Staff Layoffs, Larger Class Sizes":
From coast to coast, public schools face the threat of tens of thousands of layoffs this year in a fiscal crunch likely to result in larger class sizes and fewer programs to help students in need.
Reports of deep staffing and service cuts are emerging in several states, including California, Illinois and New Jersey, as school officials say that finances have been stretched to the breaking point. The Washington area is not immune.
That's great. Except the problem is that when companies are faced with recession -- which generally means lower demand for their product -- they simply cut production (and I don't say simply lightly, because that cut in production of course means cuts in employment, etc.). Schools don't have that option. They aren't businesses. They can't cut production. Apparently, people continue to have children, and children continue to go to school.
Therefore, acting as though a school can be run like a business ignores the fundamental fact that schools aren't businesses. Yes, they should be run efficiently; yes, waste and fraud and mismanagement should be recognized and removed (or at least minimized). However, schools cannot reduce the amount of children they care for and develop simply because of a recession.
Funding those schools to deal with the children they have in reality, rather than pretending that the balance sheet is more important than children's lives -- that is, using the impersonal veil of accounting to dehumanize students, should be our priority.