Roanoke Times and World News

Editorial

 

SCHOOLS

but don't try to claim lack of funds

MORE SCHOOL FUNDS, wisely invested and more fairly distributed, could in a lot of ways create more opportunities for children in disadvantaged localities, or for disadvantaged children anywhere.

Ford Quillen, the state delegate from Far Southwest Virginia, cites a few such ways. More money could be used to:

_ Bring 4 year-olds into the school system.

_ Provide guidance counselors in the early grades.

_ Lower teacher-pupil ratios.

_ Expand computer learning.

_ Add a month to the school year far teacher-development.

Who will argue that such steps wouldn't improve schools in poorer localities, that they wouldn't bring the

scales just a little closer toward balance between the prospects of children in rural and inner-city districts and those of students from Virginia's affluent suburbs?

Claiming lack of state funds is the chicken's way out. A state Senate majority this year supported a modest rise in the tax on joint incomes of more than $100,000. A House majority supported a half-cent increase in the sales tax.

Both measures failed in the end, but the fact they attracted as much on the- record backing as they did shows more leadership on the issue from the General Assembly than from the governor's of lice.

The lawsuit filed by the poorer school divisions remains perilous. The far preferable alternative is for elected representatives to do their jobs instead of abdicating responsibility to the courts.

If the governor backed by the General Assembly could summon the gumption, the lawsuit could be made irrelevant and, more to the point, the education of poor kids made better.