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The Three R’s: Now Brought To You By Robitussin!
December 22, 2010, 9:00 am
Filed under: Innovation in Education

And F is for Floppy Disk!

We’re coming up on the winter solstice and you know what that means! A total lunar eclipse AND a looming deadline for anyone looking for a good deed to do to make the baby Jesus happy on his birthday. Well, I’ve got a doozy of a deed for some lucky duck out there: represent the interests of the Los Angeles Unified School District as they start selling access to their kids to corporate sponsors.

I can practically hear you shout “Really? Have we finally come to Polynomials brought to you by Pepsi? What the hell do we pay taxes for then?” Funny you should ask. Check out these fun facts from a New York Times story:

In the past three years, the Los Angeles Unified School District has cut $1.5 billion from its operating budget, now down to $5.4 billion. As recently as last month, 1,000 more employees lost their jobs in layoffs. And Governor-elect Jerry Brown suggested Tuesday at a budget forum that schools could expect more drastic cuts when he presents a new state budget next month.

Okay fine. We have to work with what we’ve got in this life, and we’ve clearly got a community that can’t or won’t raise enough money through corporate and personal taxes to educate its citizens. And hey – selling naming rights to a school stadium isn’t so bad! $1.5 billion is a big gap and if they can pull in some real dough then maybe this is a sensible way to manage in These Hard Times! So how much cash are we talking about?

“Officials say the plan could generate as much as $18 million for the schools.”

So…we’re going to have a Dora The Explorer Elementary for a measly 1.2% of a budget gap three years in the making? The piece doesn’t say if this estimate represents a one time or annual payment, but there is no way to massage these numbers and feel good about the answer.

So here’s where the good deed comes in folks: don’t let LAUSD sell its birthright for a mess of pottage. These guys need a pro to put an accurate price on a captive audience of more than half a million members of an extremely desirable market segment. And they need a barracuda to write up the contract. Not only should LAUSD squeeze every single dollar possible from this deal, they need the flexibility to end it.

You know, just in case there is a Christmas Tax Miracle.

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