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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 5/24/10

Destroying Public Education in America: Part II

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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.


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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.

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