“Education reform,” the charter school movement that siphons state funding for well-off kids into private hands, the racialized segregation of inner-city and suburban school districts, No Child Left Behind, and the scapegoating of teachers’ unions has produced an education system that hardly even qualifies as a 12-year babysitting service.
No libraries, nurses, extracurricular activities or counselors; 50 kids in a classroom; rationing of note-paper, 11 textbooks for 33 students…it goes on and on.
Reporting from PBS, education correspondent John Tulenko recently went to the city to examine “a school budget crisis that’s been called the worst in the country.” He found a high school where “the budget for extracurricular activities has dropped to zero, its budget for books zero, and for supplies to $14,000. That’s roughly $5 per student to last the entire year.”
He found an elementary school of 578 students with no full-time school nurse; so the principal, who has no medical training, has to sub in that role three days a week.
The ninth grade biology class he visited was “packed wall to wall with 62 students.” A student he spoke with said, “It makes me feel annoyed. It slows down the class and what we can learn. And it makes it harder to pay attention when you can’t even get a desk to sit in.”
The teacher said, “I tried to do a lab with them, and it was extremely difficult because so many of them wanted help and they were not sure of what to do. And you can’t give your attention to 30 pairs of students.”
It’s criminal that this allowed to go on. Each generation and their education defines the future and informs the present. Uneducated or undereducated children will not be the contributors to tomorrow’s society, but rather a drain on the potential of that future. Every dollar spent to properly educate children today pays off a thousand fold as they become the producers, makers, and developers of tomorrow’s society. We need to stop wasting our national treasury in meaningless warfare and begin investing in our own children and the future they will inherit.