- This writer's April 2008 article addressed the topic,
accessed through the following link: http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2008/04/destroying-public-education-in-america.html.
- It covered the sordid scheme to destroy what Diogenes
called "the foundation of every state," and what Horace Mann
(the "father of American education") said was mankind's "greatest
discovery, (the) great equalizer, common" to all.
- Established in 1635, the first Massachusetts school began
a 375 year tradition, today being incrementally destroyed to commodity
education, end government's responsibility for it, make it another business
profit center, benefit the well-off, revive a separate and unequal nation,
consign underprivileged kids to low-wage, no benefit service jobs with
no future so why educate them, thus putting the American dream out of reach
- The Obama administration is spearheading the effort to
do it, led by its infamous Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who wrecked
Chicago schools so well he was chosen to go nationwide. More on his scheme
- This article updates the earlier one, reflecting a grave
problem getting worse under an administration as perverse as its predecessor,
using the economic crisis to destroy, not help society's most vulnerable
and disadvantaged when they most need it - one way through improved public
education for a better future they'll be denied by marketplace priorities.
- Obama is doing Bush one better, replacing his "No
Child Left Behind" (NCLB) scheme with his own "Race to the Top,"
using failed NCLB practices, including rote learning, testing, teaching
to the test, school choice, and (short on real achievement) market-based
- In an unprecedented assault on public education, he's
pitting one state against another, promoting school closures, mass teacher-staff
layoffs, and wage and benefit cuts - arguing for draconian measures and
privatizations to qualify for federal funding.
- Addressing a Chamber of Commerce audience on March 1,
he defended firing the entire Central Falls, Rhode Island High School teaching
and support staff for rejecting demands they work overtime without pay
- signaling what's happening nationwide as states deal with budget problems
by raising taxes and cutting jobs, including mass teacher-support staff
- (Note: Central Falls High teachers and staff will keep
their jobs under a May 15 union-negotiated agreement, forcing them to accept
demands as bad or worse than ones they rejected. Included are a longer
school day, a new teacher evaluation process, up to 10 days of mandatory
summer "professional development," elimination of strict seniority
guidelines, one weekly hour of provided tutoring, a "streamlined"
collective bargaining arrangement, and dropping the lawsuit challenging
their February firings. The settlement shows what teachers and staff face
nationwide, especially when unions side with school boards, not their members.)
- Facing a persistently huge budget deficit (over $26 billion
as of April 2010), California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger just announced
his latest austerity program after earlier spending and staff cuts, and
revenue enhancements. Besides other vital social services, it includes
a freeze on public education, including for K-12, community colleges and
universities. Earlier measures included layoffs, increased class sizes,
University of California voluntary time off without pay and furloughs as
an option becoming reality, given the state's fiscal challenges through
mid-decade or longer.
- Strapped California cities are as hamstrung with budget
shortfalls. For example, the Los Angeles Unified School District, facing
a $640 million gap, voted to lay off over 5,200 teachers, support staff
and management. Overall, 22,000 state teachers are affected, more likely
- At around $13 billion, Illinois' per capita budget deficit
is worse than California's, forcing lawmakers to make hard choices as they
deal with the FY 2011 state budget. Last winter, payments to multiple state
agencies were suspended, including the University of Illinois owed over
$436 million in unpaid bills, $125 million owed Southern Illinois University,
and $62 million to Northern Illinois University.
- As a result, over 11,000 faculty and administrators were
furloughed for mandated unpaid 10-day periods through mid-June. Hiring
and wage freezes followed, endemic throughout the state that's effectively
bankrupt like California, Michigan and others at a time conditions are
worsening, not improving, so more painful measures are coming.
- Last March, state schools superintendent Christopher
Koch warned Senate appropriation committee members that the proposed FY
2011 Board of Education budget will require another 13,000 layoffs, an
estimate he called conservative as one-fourth of state schools hadn't submitted
expected revenue losses, their numbers going up, not down.
- For starters, it's why 17,000 jobs are affected. According
to state budget director David Vaught, "This is the reality budget.
This is what's really happening" with no choice but to enact draconian
cuts and tax increases, $1.4 billion from education expected, an 11% decrease
besides another $1 billion the state owes to schools.
- Last March, Voices for Illinois Children, a child advocacy
group, called expected FY 2011 budget cuts "doomsday" ones that
- -- $922 million from elementary and high schools, disproportionately
harming low and middle income districts;
- -- $144 million from universities and community colleges;
- -- $254 million in scholarship awards; and
- -- $386 million in various services, including alternative
education for teen parents, after-school activities for 25,000 at-risk
youths, and other children's programs.
- Given a deteriorating economy, these are for starters,
much like for other states dealing with intractable budget crises, cuts
so far haven't resolved nor will for the foreseeable future.
- Education, of course, will be greatly harmed given the
rage for privatizations at the expense of a bedrock public institution
on the chopping block to be eliminated, the Obama administration spearheading
it by forcing strapped states to go along. In New York, for example, 15,000
teacher and support staff cuts were announced, the same pattern throughout
- Last winter, the Kansas City, MO school board endorsed
a plan to shut 28 of the city's 61 schools and cut 700 jobs, including
286 teachers. In Michigan, an "Excellent Schools Detroit" program
calls for closing 70 public schools, replacing them with charter ones.
The city's Public Schools Emergency Financial Director, Robert Bobb, wants
to charterize the entire system, selling it to profiteers.
- In Massachusetts, 35 schools are at risk and their staffs,
and in Boston, Superintenent Carol Johnson's budget proposed painful cuts,
including tens of millions of dollars, salary freezes or cuts, school closings,
reduced busing, furloughed days, less heat in winter, and other measures
to save $57.7 million. At the same time, charter school expansion continues,
to be permanent at the expense of public schools - the system that educated
this writer in the 1940s and 50s, headed for extinction.
- Today, a shell of its former self, this writer's grade,
junior high and high school no longer exist, a testimony to public education's
destruction. In late 2009, the city closed another six schools. More will
follow given the rage to cut costs, privatize, and consign millions of
disadvantaged kids to oblivion, on their own and out of luck.
- According to Boston Municipal Research Bureau's Samuel
Tyler, school closings are inevitable, a pattern throughout the country
in disturbing transition, demanded by Washington, reinforced by refusal
to provide emergency funding in deference to other priorities - the usual
earmarks for wars, Wall Street, Big Oil, Big PhRMA, Big Agriculture, Big
Telecom, Big Auto, and other corporate interests, the public be damned.
- A new American Association of School Administrators (AASA)
study titled, "Cliff Hanger: How America's Public Schools Continue
to Feel the Impact of the Economic Downturn" highlights the problem,
based on a March 2010 survey of 453 school administrators.
- It showed school districts more strapped than in the
previous two years. More than two-thirds cut staff in 2009-10, and 90%
plan them in 2010-11. The same holds for benefits, affecting health care,
pensions, libraries, and other educational tools and supplies. In addition,
class sizes will be increased, and discretionary programs cut or eliminated
like music, other arts, physical education and sports. In some districts,
consideration is being given for a four-day week, and lower-paid temps
replacing full-time teachers.
- Further, Washington's proposed FY 2011 budget has new
funding guidelines for low-income concentration schools, based on "performance,"
not need, or in other words, obey (bogus on their face) federal mandates,
be judged by the results, and lose out if disobey or fair poorly - the
idea being to rig the game to assure a new profit-driven, reactionary,
class-based system. Poor families needn't apply, nor unions, teachers wanting
good pay, benefits, and job security, and others with progressive ideas
about an egalitarian America heading for extinction on the alter of marketplace
education replacing an earlier nation now gone.
- It's showing up in expected hundreds of thousands of
lost teacher and support staff jobs, a virtual blizzard of pink slips from
New York to California with many more in prospect - as many as 300,000
near-term, according to Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
- As Chicago Public Schools CEO, he wrecked them by closures,
teacher firings, budget cuts, militarizing city high schools, and privatizations,
including nearly 100 quasi-private charter schools, many run by for-profit
companies. He plans the same for America, why Obama tapped him to destroy
a 375 year tradition, replacing it with marketplace inequality.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
email@example.com. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the
Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays
at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs
are archived for easy listening.