Saturday, January 21, 2012

Kentucky Fried Budget Cuts (or...Noah, I Want You to Build a Park...)

In all fairness, this is actually two news stories, not one.  It would be easy for me to say (and actually I think I did in my last post) that Kentucky's recent proposed budget cuts millions from education in order to fund a Noah's Ark themed amusement park, but that's not true, and it's a simplification of a complex issue.  My sensibilities are a little trigger-happy when I see a brain-exploding scenario such as this, so take this with a grain of salt.  However, it's hard for me not to scratch my head when I see these two issues--one directly and one indirectly related to education--in juxtaposition.

I paint this story with loose brush strokes, but on one hand, the proposed budget cuts millions from higher education funding specifically, and K-12 education indirectly. 

Obviously, this isn't a problem specific to Kentucky.  I remember some summers ago when our Indiana governer Mitch Daniels cut education by $10 million, and politely requested that schools perform necessary cuts without firing teachers.  (Right.  Ten million dollars in staples.  It's all that stapling.  Stop stapling, everyone, and we can all keep our jobs!  Jesus.).  He wanted to perform his stereotypically Republican duty of cutting education without coming off as a villian, so he passed off an impossible task. 

I digress, but the point is that Kentucky is also in a pinch and will probably cut their budget for education.

On the other hand, there is a Biblically-themed amusement park planned for Kentucky (of course, related to the Ken Ham atrocity of a Creation Museum there) that will include "a full-sized wooden ark, a walled city much like what was found in ancient times, a replica of the Tower of Babel with exhibits, and a first-century Middle Eastern village."  (What the WHAT?  Seriously, you can't make this shit up.  To be fair, it's going to be an amusement park and I am already amused.  Mission accomplished.).  It's hoped (and, sadly, probably correctly so) that the park will bring in lots of tourism cash, and if it does will receive hefty (in the millions) tax breaks.  Also, there are $11 million set aside for improving roads around the proposed park site, and that remains untouched for the moment. 

Again, these are two separate incidents, and I can't really say that one person physically robbed a safe marked "education" in order to build a full scale ark covered in slip-n-slides.  Also, any business, religion-based or no, theoretically gets the same treatment (tax breaks, road improvement negotiations) if it can effectively convince their state government that it will be profitable for all.  This is much ado over a proposed budget and a proposed park. 

BUT... the whole thing smacks of dystopia to me.  I can't help but think of children whose education is cut and cut and cut, who then attend an amusement park with an unapologetic goal of getting across the message, "This really happened."  My mind leaps to exaggeration land, where homeschooled kids are solving story problems from their Christian math books, such as "If King Hezekiah has a thousand flocks of sheep, and King Uzziah has three thousand flocks of goats, how many gays should they stone to death?"  or "Yahweh is angry at his beloved chosen people.  How many piles of their dead babies will make him smile again?"

Kentucky (and every other state), this is God (Michelle).  I want you to build a park. 

This park should be big and nice and have lots of computers and books and art supplies.  There should be many caring adults there who will teach the kids math and literature and science.  The children should learn the best evidence that we have about human origins, and they should learn about the history of cultures all around the globe and from all times.  They should learn about important things that happened in their own communities during the civil rights movement.  What if there could be a section of the park dedicated to comparative religion?  Children would learn other perspectives than their own, and this would be excellent not scary. 

A kid called Eric might understand why a kid named Omar has a shrine in his house, and not be freaked out about it.  A girl named Kristin or Kyung-Soon or freaking Dakota should be able to look through a telescope, see a distant star get wiped out and think, "Holy shit.  I wanna do this for the rest of my life." 

I want you to build this park, Kentucky!

Of course, I'm not talking about a park.  I'm talking about schools.  And I'm not talking about Kentucky, I'm talking about everywhere.  I know money doesn't appear by magic, but there is some stupid crap going on while schools have buckets sitting under leaks and the kids have gone as a class to some basketball game but have never been to a real museum where the dinosaurs aren't wearing saddles (Creation Museum, I'm looking at you).

Okay, everybody, let's fix this.  Any suggestions? 



  1. Great post! One of the things I love about the Creation Museum is its claim that it will create jobs. Kentuckians ought to be up in arms that millions of their tax dollars are being given away to create ticket-taker jobs.

    1. Thanks, Paul. You're right about the ticket-taking. One person who commented on an article about this topic noted that only a limited number of children who grow up poorly educated can get a job at the ark, and what about the others? Le sigh. The museum deserves a post by itself. Some Purdue University students went there and blogged about the horrible fallacies promoted there. Double le sigh.

  2. Ugh. First a cretaionist museum, now a museum about a mythological flood legend. It makes my head spin that enough people take this stuff as fact to make these ventures profitable.

    1. I keep thinking I'll stop being surprised by the stuff like this that gets taken seriously, and yet I'm still amazed.

      I weep inwardly to think of the people who will go to places like this, but never to places like the Field Museum in Chicago, for example--truly a place of wonder. Around my town I've seen many t-shirts, bumper stickers, etc. that read, "Prepare to Believe," a slogan of Ham's Creation Museum. I really find that chilling.

  3. WHAAAAAT?!?!? How did I not hear about this? Good God. And we wonder why our literacy rates are so low? Jesus, Mary, and Joseph this state is out of control.

  4. The great state of Kentucky is not alone, dear Jackster. Education seems to get the shaft from sea to shining sea. The good news is, I hear that Kentucky has some uber-hot superhero librarians fighting the good fight. ;)


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