Term Paper: Education Budget Cuts

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Budget Cuts

In today's world, education has become of primary importance, since this is regarded as the vehicle to work and concomitantly a productive life. Education is, however, not only important in terms of the individual life and progress; it is also vital for the progress and well-being of society in general. Across the board, whether education be privately managed or is part of the public wealth, it is one area that should receive full attention for the development of individuals and the nation collectively. Hence, budget cuts in the state school system in general and the UC specifically should receive careful consideration not only in terms of the application of funding, but also in terms of how this could affect the well-being of the public and the economy. In other words, a more global view than just that of the economy should be promoted when considering financial support for education in the state of California. There are various ways of thinking, knowing, and managing that potentially perpetuate the issue of budget cuts in the education system of the state. On the other hand, these same paradigms can be modified to find viable alternatives to budget cuts to ensure the long-term well-being of the state's citizens, their development, and the economy in general.

Denhardt and Denhardt (p. 25) describe the paradigm of efficiency as a choice that, when related to policy issues, is generally subject to the control of closed rulership systems, where a single person or body of persons has substantial control over decision-making. For budget cuts, this means that the main consideration is efficiency, which favors budget cuts, where funding for education is allocated towards entities and systems with more immediate development results. This is a relatively myopic view of efficiency within an economic system, since budget cuts to education means, in the long-term, that economic development will ultimately suffer, since fewer well-educated professionals will be available to ensure the economic development of the country. Hence, the "rational choice" which is at the heart of the efficiency paradigm does not entail the necessary long-term decision-making skills that are typically required to ensure a good and effective education system.

Denhardt and Denhardt (p. 25) note that several authors, after critically examining the efficiency model, have suggested alternatives that might entail paradigms such as greater discretion, responsiveness, and openness in the process of administration.

One such alternative, as provided by Denhardt and Denhardt (p. 26), is the New Public Management model, which offers an alternative to the bureaucracy of the efficiency model. Instead of a single-minded focus on efficiency, this model provides for the privatization and contracting out of activities. For the mitigation of budget cuts, this means that budgeting activities could be allocated to economic and educational professionals who are concerned with more than the efficiency of a primarily economic budgeting system. Instead, the collaboration of professionals in both the economic and education fields can mean both a more efficient and more effective educational system, where budget cuts do not need to rule the quality of education.

Another important alternative offered by Denhardt and Denhardt (p. 27) is the concept of citizenship in terms of its capacity to influence public policy. Certainly, recipients of education and other stakeholders from the public can be assumed to be as concerned about the quality of education the youth receives as about the budget that is allocated to this system. Hence, in contrast to the bureaucratic system that dictates efficiency, the public acts as a shaping factor in the allocation of funding to the public education system. Parents, for example, can take part in the policy system that dictates funding by means of contact with local congress and other policy making agencies. Such public participation offers a valuable alternative to bureaucratic systems, since they offer the opportunity for democracy to become a reality not only in the general political system, but also in education.

Closely connected to this idea is the ideal of community. According to Denhardt and Denhardt (p. 33), community has become one of the central paradigms of American public life today. Hence, individuals have begun to make decisions and policies based upon the needs of the community rather than self-interest. In this way, democracy has obtained a new central meaning; that of considering the good of the public as ultimately translating to the good of the individual as well. This concept can then also be applied to the phenomenon of budget cuts in the state education system.

As mentioned, quality education has important long-term outcomes in terms of the economy. This is, by association, good for the community as a whole. When this is taken into account, it therefore makes sense that the state education system should be of the highest possible quality, and that as little as possible of the budget should be cut. Budget cuts would mean fewer good personnel, fewer students who are able to access tertiary education, and also fewer young people who are ultimately able to access the economy and contribute optimally to it. It is therefore in the interest of both the community and individuals to maintain the quality of the education system.

The authors then culminate this sense of community into several regulations that focus on the concept of "the New Public Management." These rules include (Denhardt and Denhardt, p. 43): 1) Serve Citizens, Not Customers; 2) Seek the Public Interest; 3) Value Citizenship over Entrepreneurship; 4) Think Strategically, Act Democratically; 5) Recognize that Accountability Isn't Simple; 6) Serve Rather than Steer; 7) Value People, not Just Productivity.

The final rule is particularly applicable to the management and implementation of budget cuts. People and the public should serve as the determinators of budgeting. These are the short-term values that should be taken into account, rather than immediate profitability or efficiency. In the long-term, values such as economic growth and workplace efficiency will emerge from excellent state education programs.

Weick and Sutcliffe (p. 32) place importance upon the paradigm of expectations that act as a guide for action or as a danger that can act as a blinding force when presented with the unexpected. Unusual events such as the downturn of the economy could, for example, lead to a sudden lack of cash flow or credit and severely impact a business. The education system has been affected in the same way. In terms of expectations, policy makers should therefore be aware of potential threats by acknowledging their own expectations and the possible dangers that are associated with these.

Having a contingency plan in place in case of a sudden fall in cash or credit flow will mitigate the necessity for budget cuts and increase the likelihood of quality education to continue unhindered. Again, in the long-term this will mean better health for the economy, which is particularly important during times of economic downturn.

In the same light, Weick and Sutcliffe (p. 33) also address the concept of mindfulness, which is a culmination of expecting the unexpected. Mindfulness means full awareness of a system and its functioning during any time of its existence. This means that the economic health of the state education system should also continually be monitored so that severe budget cuts can be avoided by making minor adjustments over the lifetime of the system. This is a powerful alternative to being surprised by a sudden change in the economy or in the health of the system as a whole.

This type of awareness and continual mindfulness is also important from the viewpoint of managers, as stated by Boleman and Deal (p. 4). The authors state that "one of the most common afflictions of leaders" is "seeing an incomplete or distorted picture as a result of overlooking or misinterpreting important signals." In other words, many leaders are so concerned with maintaining their position… [END OF PREVIEW]

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