Our surreal nation: School district math snafu forces layoffs of math teachers


CNN is reporting today on its web site

that due to a miscalculation in the school district budget for Dallas, Texas, officials were forced to lay off 375 teachers and 40 counselors and assistant principals yesterday. Another 460 teachers were transferred to other schools within the district.

At least one girl was crying, in the article, as she said good-bye to her music teacher. "Why do you have to leave?" she was quoted as wailing.

The irony would be funny if it weren't so sad and serious: that a math error is hurting Dallas' school children. A math error? A math error has led to the dismissal of math teachers, and numerous other instructors, and it's going to make at least the Dallas area's educational system even weaker, and as I noted in a post just yesterday, when we have a weak educational system, our entire country suffers.

While the nationwide school program No Child Left Behind program is often maligned for its bureaucracy, it's incidents like this that make me see why it was created. When children are left behind, some of them grow up and get jobs. Like in the government, not to mention Wall Street, and even the occasional corporation like Enron. Suddenly, I'm starting to see that a lot of people, kids and grownups, would be better off if at least some adults in prominent financial positions were forced to retake some of their high school and college math courses.

Geoff Williams is a freelance journalist and the author of C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America (Rodale).