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Political circus over education issue must end

By By BRIAN BLACKLEY
Publisher
The citizens of Alabama deserve much better than this "State Political Education Funding Traveling Road Show," brought to you in part by special interests and re-election campaigns.
The circus began last week with State Superintendent Ed Richardson telling a football-crazed state that all athletic programs may lose their funding. Then he threatened the string section, which ruffled the dander of a few band directors.
Meanwhile, Gov. Don Siegelman spent his weekend writing letters to editors praising those politicians who supported him and threatening to end political careers for those who didn't.
Once his fingers cooled, the good governor traveled cross state to the districts where legislators oppose his education funding plan and told constituents to make phone calls and consider dumping the incumbent.
Big businesses have taken a different approach. While Siegelman et al wear the lion tamer's outfit, the business special interests have cowered into the role of a poor circus creature being abused.
Commercials airing on TVs statewide depict an innocent business community paying its fair share of taxes. Then, business groups say they'll help fund $78 million of the education problem.
Here's what Alabamians don't deserve: Rhetoric in the name of political chivalry. State politicians should drop the word "children" from every speech, commercial and postcard they send. Sure, it's easy to peg a funding crisis on the future of Alabama, but the ones doing the complaining are the ones who should have put on knee pads and avoided the bruise.
Alabamians also do not deserve state politicians who spend thousands of dollars to travel the state on a stump tour. Those politicians, Gov. Siegelman included, should have a calculator in one hand and a chewed up pencil in the other. If this is such an important financial issue which it is then the only way to fix the problem is to crunch numbers constantly.
Siegelman and Richardson, who spend more time wiping away tears for the children than waste from spending, need to become leaders and not whiners.
They should think of Alabama's government and education like a business which it is. Business executives don't go crying to shareholders when the board of trustees doesn't approve of a plan. They find a plan that works or they get fired.