Robert Reich: Any day now, the Obama administration will announce $4.35 billion in extra federal funds for under-performing public schools. That’s fine, but relative to the financial squeeze all the nation’s public schools now face it’s a cruel joke.
Is the US system of public education in crisis? Many say the answer to that question is no. But almost all agree that we have two systems of public education in the United States - one based principally, though not entirely, in the suburbs and another that is based principally in poorer urban and rural areas. One is, unarguably in crisis. The other is not. These articles discuss the root causes and possible solutions.
Randy Shaw: Activists can use mass action to pressure legislators and the Governor to redirect excessive spending on prisons and other wasteful programs to education, but there is no chance this year of getting enough Republicans to win the necessary two-thirds legislative votes.
Ron Wolff: What are the consequences of not providing mature social learning environments for our children? Just observe the overgrown children who populate our legislative bodies!
Shamus Cooke: The first battle tactic against public education was to starve it. Politicians have consistently lowered taxes on corporations and the rich for the past three decades, thereby lowering state revenues that have created the budget crises in nearly every state. Consequently, public education is in a state of shell shock.
Joseph Palermo: Sadly, the clear winner in recent years has been the California of small things and small ideas. Through an outdated flaw in the structure of governance, one-third of the Legislature has a stranglehold on the state’s finances. The other two-thirds (the majority) knows the state is heading in the wrong direction. Yet given its lack of control over the purse strings, it’s left flailing around passing a lot of symbolic laws that go nowhere.
Carl Bloice: Why can a naton and a government that can raise $1 million each to send young men and women to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan not find the resources to adequately educate young people here at home?
Maria Elena Durazo and Maria Brenes: Sadly, the promise of economic and social mobility via our public educational system is going unfulfilled for the children of poor and working class parents in the City of Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Unified District (LAUSD) whose student body is over 70% Latino and 11% African American must focus on stopping the drop-out crisis and addressing the lack of student preparation for college and the 21st century workforce.
Sharon Toji: Los Angeles is certainly not alone in wasting bond money. San Francisco passed bonds some years ago specifically to do ADA upgrades, an administrator used the money to upgrade his house, among other illegalities. After a federal suit was brought, because the ADA upgrades were never made, they had to go back to the public for more money, and the public gave again. This time around, we actually prefer to work in San Francisco because their paperwork demands are not as ridiculous and we can concentrate more on signs. Also, their bond work is definitely not in the luxury class. They are doing only what is necessary, with no frills and much less waste. Otherwise, the public would mutiny, after having had their money wasted once.
Bob Letcher: Taxpayers have a right to expect more for their money, and during these difficult times, they desperately need more for their money. They have a right to expect their support of institutions of higher learning to provide higher learning.
Harry Mok: More than 3,000 youth in California age out of the foster care system every year without having a permanent family to support them. Nationally, studies have shown that just 7 to 13 percent of foster youth pursue higher education. Of those who do go to college, only 2 percent obtain a bachelor’s degree, compared with 24 percent for the general population, according to a Casey Family Programs report.
Throughout this period of unprecedented cuts to the CSU budget, the Chancellor and his administration have failed to confront elected leaders or even to educate the people of California about the costs of political choices made around the California budget.
For the past three years, a group of black men within 100 Black Men of Los Angeles have been studying the successful publicly funded single-gender school of our New York chapter, The Eagle Academy for Excellence, as a possible solution to the dilemma facing black boys in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD).
To me, that makes education crucial to this country’s future. What will be required to avoid losing? If people detect either that they are no longer being challenged by their work, or if they find themselves reading beer bottle labels under tables, then I would suspect that the country is on its way to History’s Great Dustbin.