With the recent budget cuts in education we are left to wonder, is it really necessary to lay off so many teachers? One would think teacher layoffs would be a last resort, since fewer teachers mean more students in a classroom and all the problems associated with large class size.
Recently, due to budget cuts, many school districts have announced hundreds of teachers will be laid off and therefore, class sizes will increase. Such an announcement rapidly gets the attention of parents.
This may be done to manipulate the attitudes of citizens so they are more receptive to the next tax increase. Parents who are desperate for a solution, follow the Pied Piper down the path to higher taxes.
Paradoxically, teachers and administrators are often told to spend down the yearly budget, because if the money isn’t spent the district loses the funds. Generally, school districts are not permitted to save up for a rainy day. So, at times there is a last minute scramble to spend money on the frivolous rather than losing it and facing a lower allocation of funds next year.
Every day we are influenced to believe information that is not to our benefit. For example, like school districts, city governments faced with budget reductions often announce potential cuts to fire and police protection. Such actions certainly get the attention of the public.
Instead of cutting waste or finding more creative ways to deliver high quality services with less money, bureaucracies often threaten services highly regarded by the community. Often, this tactic is used to manipulate public opinion into believing more tax money is necessary for basic vital services, and bless our hearts, we fall for this manipulation every time.
The same principles of manipulation are used by advertising agencies, employers and government agencies to influence the behavior of people, for better or worse. Some manipulation by advertisers can, if done ethically and transparently, have a positive effect.
For example, why have more people become anti-smoking? Or, why do we look with disdain when someone throws a large McDonald’s bag out their car window? It is because commercials, news reports and a continuous stream of information against these behaviors have manipulated our perceptions to view smoking and littering as unacceptable behaviors.
None of us want to live in a paranoid society. But let’s face it, we live in the age of manipulation. There are those whose very profession is to influence us in ways that are to our benefit. They employ techniques of manipulation in a beneficial way, for the welfare of the community. Unfortunately, there are also professionals who are dedicated to manipulating us for their benefit or the benefit of those they serve.
When school districts lay off teachers and cut high profile programs, rather than engage in legitimate across the board budget cuts, we are threatened with loss of essential services to our children. Subsequently, we are more receptive to tax increases which purport to rescue such essential services. However, how often is the money collected so school districts can continue funding their pet projects?
There is a fine line between necessary manipulations for the general good, versus manipulation for the benefit of the manipulator. This is why we must refuse to follow the Pied Piper just because he plays a convincing tune.