Since I live nearby, I’d like to add a couple of observations. While the blame for the school funding crisis lies mostly with the state legislature and governor for slashing funding, Philadelphia isn’t exactly blameless. Philadelphia has a long history of extremely low property taxes and sweetheart tax waivers for new construction.
It’s time for Philadelphia to start charging property owners taxes closer to what residents of suburban communities pay before asking for another cent. For my school district, Tredyffrin Easttown, that’s an average of $4,696.00 in school tax per property.
And I’d be completely fine raising the state income tax to fund public education if it meant abolishing all local school taxes.
Considering that “those who want to eliminate so-called ‘government-run’ schools” are such a tiny minority, I’m not sure what they have to do with anything, really. The vast majority of people who want alternative forms of education made available to students believe strongly in public school. They just think it’s been done wrong for too long.
Nor is it the direction the democratic party wants to take the education system. What needs to happen to the education system transcends party politics.
If I gave the impression that I believe teachers unions are inherently a problem, I apologize. Like I said, teacher unions are not the problem for students. Nor is the lack of teacher unions a major problem for students, as far as they’re concerned. What is a problem for students are the forces that get between them and teachers, between them and their interests, between them and a meaningful learning experience. Politics is the problem. Coercion is the problem. Arbitrary curricula and authoritarianism are problems.
there’s a major political party called the republican party which has made a major effort to damage the public school system. some republicans do so because they see it, like other public goods, as an entitlement and regard it as an indoctrination tool by godless liberals to destroy american values. others regard the privatization of the schools as a way of rewarding some of their financial supporters. these efforts have been going on for quite some time and do not represent a minority position within the republican party. these efforts are why i led off with the link to the politico article and the mother jones article in my initial response to the original post. i also pointed to texas’ disinvestment in school funding and i could have talked about the jindal administration’s efforts to reduce funding for public schools and channel public funds into religious schools instead.
i realize that you find the educational status quo in the united states to be unacceptable and therefore are unlikely to have much sympathy for the democratic party’s efforts to maintain it but they, at least, have not been trying to degrade public education to replace it with religious schools or for profit schools which promise to be no better, and quite possibly worse, than the present system. i also realize that there may well be some few republicans who are not given over to a policy of destruction just as there may well be some few democrats who advocate charter schools and vouchers but on the whole the reality of the situation in terms of the policy statements and actions taken by the parties is as i have described.
i agree with you that the future of our educational system should transcend party politics but the present polarization of our politics makes that exceedingly unlikely. as recently as 12 years ago it was possible to pass a bipartisan education reform package, no child left behind. formerly it would have been possible to pass legislation to deal with the very real problems with that law that arose during its implementation but that has not been the case because of that polarization.
i don’t think the elimination of the present system is going to lead to the kind of “unschool” system you point to in the links you provided and i’d rather have the status quo than see it replaced with a system of religious and for-profit charters. i think we have some areas of common ground but at the end of the day i suspect we will have to agree to disagree on many more things. despite that, i wish you well since you seek a better way and i can certainly respect that.
This does not represent the failure of American education. This is merely the GOP platform. A GOP got elected governor of PA, and immediately cut 1 Billion from the education budget. This is not a secret, It has engendered strikes *as if a strike could solve anything by asking for money that local school boards do not have), and a lot of emergency tax raises. Particularly property taxes, which have skyrocketed in PA. Philadelphia pushed through a huge cigarette tax to recover a fraction of the money lost, but it’s a drop in the bucket. And yes, it affects mostly the public schools. Catholic schools and charter schools draw everyone with the means to pay, and vouchers are voted on every year to support them.
I’d like to say it will stop when people wise up, but people have a long history of being led to vote against their own self-interests repeatedly.
For the first time in its existence, the Philadelphia Inquirer has refused to endorse a governor in Tuesday’s election. They usually endorse the Democrat, but the current governor has sent $30 million to the Inquirer’s owner’s favorite charity, so he’s kind of in a bind.
So, good luck with that.
That Corbett “cut $1B” from the education budget is the biggest lie of this campaign cycle. The reality is that the state spent $480 million MORE in Corbett’s first year than in the previous year under Rendell and every subsequent year spent more than Rendell EVER spent on education. The $1B figure come from combining the cessation of temporary federal stimulus funds with the total salaries of teachers that had to be left go due to teacher salary and benefit increases that required staffing cuts to maintain and counting them as “cuts” made by Corbett. Maybe the Philadelphia Inquirer isn’t supporting Wolf simply because they don’t want to be associated with his shady accounting, or maybe they simply realize that his stated goal of using taxation to punish businesses for choosing to operate in PA is not going to improve the economy. Sure, our choices for Governor this time around aren’t great but Wolf is definitely the greater of two evils.
Even though we probably will have to agree to disagree on many things, it’s a refreshing pleasure to do so in a positive, friendly way. Okay, now IT’S ON!!
I think there are a variety of ways to “damage” the public school system. But I think the notion is so subjective as to not be very useful. Whether its manipulating curricula in political or even arbitrary ways, or if it’s mismanaging funds and resources, these things need to be recognized as harmful regardless of ideology or political party.
The two parties use the education system as political tools in different ways, but there is no evidence that Republicans use the education system as a political tool more frequently than Democrats. Suggesting otherwise is a faith-based argument. You dislike the way Republicans screw with public education more than the way Democrats screw with it. I understand and can respect that. But, again, the students who are miserable in school don’t care about any of it.
But I don’t know what you mean by “better” and “worse?” What’s your metric? Test scores? Graduation rates?
Also, considering all the people associated with Democrats who have gotten rich via the education system, the Republicans appear to be simply more honest in the way they want to monetize education.
The fact is that whether or not a school is “for-profit” or “non-profit” or “public” matters not at all. All that matters is the satisfaction of students and parents. I believe that poor and middle-class families deserve to have at least some choices in education. They’ll never have all the choices of the rich, but opposition to charters and vouchers only serves to deny them any choice at all. As a liberal, I’m pro-choice in all things, especially something as personal as education.
And what’s the alternative? More funding! Poor and middle class families have been told to wait for generations. How much longer should they have to wait? The fact that some of the worst school districts have remained unsatisfactory despite higher levels of funding than vast majority of developed countries is clear evidence that simply adding more money is not the solution. In fact, providing more money to failing districts with already high per-pupil spending (like Philadelphia) is a perfect illustration Einstein’s definition of insanity.
I don’t think that’s the problem. Even if Republicans and Democrats came to agreement on things like charters and vouchers and unions, the worst problems in education would remain.
That’s a great example to illustrate my point. 12 years ago, Democrats and Republicans came together to create some of the very worst education policy imaginable. 6 years ago, Democrats pretended they’d fixed it with “race to the top,” when they’d really just changed the name. And students continued to be miserable, continued to resent education.
Well, I don’t think public schools will ever change over to purely self-directed learning centers, nor should they. The current paradigm should be available for the students who prefer it. All I think is necessary for a system that satisfies and excites students, parents and teachers is one where kids collaborate on their education, instead of having it dictated to them.
I 100% understand preferring the status quo to religious schools. But there’s simply no evidence whatsoever to support the notion that charter schools (even the “for-profit” ones) are more likely than public schools to abuse their powers or to serve themselves before the students. Unlike public schools, for-profit charters have a natural motivator to satisfy students and parents, who are free to leave when they don’t like the school. There is no such freedom for the kids trapped at unsatisfactory public schools.
Besides, eliminating charter schools involves telling poor and middle-class families that their satisfaction with their school is less important than an ideology that opposes profit in public service, and therefore they must return to the same unsatisfactory schools that they’ve tried to get out of for generations. I can’t imagine doing that.
Anyway, it’s funny how my first comment was about how all of this doesn’t really matter. I still think it doesn’t! I think it’s mostly political team sports entertainment, power plays, where the least important roles belong to the students.
I am totally ignorant about the situation there and would find it helpful if you could please explain why there is so little money per child and this is both the worst it has ever been and the worst in the country if they are spending more then in the past? If the reason isn’t a huge cut, then what is the reason? Thanks.
Is the idea to destroy education in America, or just deny it to the undocumented children? It seems to me that if the default funding per child is abysmally low, and the parents get a voucher scheme that they can use to direct their slice of public money to the school they select, then the system really disenfranchises illegal immigrants who can’t get the vouchers.
When teachers continually demand via strong-arm union strikes wage increases that are well above the increases that taxpayers are getting and their healthcare (which they generally pay nothing toward) is increasing by double digit percentages each year (and you also remember that the healthcare increases also include retirees) and retirement accounts are grossly underfunded which has to come out of the budget, NOTHING has to be taken away for the amount of money for supplies and student support to go down. Under Corbett the amount PA has spent on education has increased by $1.46 Billion but that has largely been eaten up by the increased costs of teacher/retiree benefits and wages.
Of course, that’s a gross oversimplification of things. Yes, there were “cuts” made but they were made up from other sources. The reality is that overall spending went up. If you want a fairly detailed overview, this link does a good job of explaining it:
Teachers make only a fraction of the salary that other professionals with similar educational training get. In fact, for all but the wealthiest of suburbs, teachers make significantly less than most employees in “white collar” type jobs.
Public schools are well known for doing exactly the same thing (I used to work with the special ed students public schools wouldn’t take), along with a variety of other very negative behaviors. It’s simply not true that “public schools, by definition, aren’t allowed to do that.” Bad actors at both charters and public schools find legal (and not-so-legal) loopholes to help them get rid of the students they don’t want.
But it would be wrong to suggest, as many on the right do, that because of the well-known bad behavior of some public schools and some public school officials, ALL public schools are, therefore, bad.
This is exactly what ideologues on the other side of the argument say about public schools (and teachers unions, especially). They ignore the public schools which provide satisfying, quality education, in order to condemn the very idea of state-run schools (and teachers unions). In order to assert that for-profit charters care less about education than about profit, one must consciously ignore the ones which are satisfying the families who attend them.
And, again, when charters are less interested in education than profit (which certainly does happen), the families who attend them are free to leave (a freedom that poor and middle class families don’t have at public schools). For most charters, this is an incentive to provide a quality education to those families.
Is a “full-time school nurse” something typical for the US? The schools I visited here in Germany (basic school with ~ 200 pupils, secondary school had 1000+ students) had only some of the staff trained in first-aid (I believe those are obligatory for every workplace above a specific head count), every serious sickness/accident was handled by the local emergency service.
Blarg, years of lurking destroyed just because I don’t get a US philosophy similar to school police departments…
you forget, in the states there is no such thing as universal health care. a school nurse is actually one of the few fairly common health care professionals regularly provided by society for the masses. their presence also reduces the spread of communicable diseases and they are trained to keep and dispense the prescription medicines belonging to the children.
Common enough here in Australia and the UK, too.
Usually a full-time trained nurse in larger schools who is not only there for first-aid and emergencies, but also provides health education and information, deals with pupil assessment and support for parents and staff, vaccination programs, health counseling etc.
As they are not part of the usual parent/teacher/pupil dynamic, they can offer greater confidentiality and can be more approachable for pupils.
i’m not fishing for information about you but i’d love to know what region of the country you’re in. in my part of the world, texas, public schools have been well known for being sued for this kind of thing. in my area, north central texas, the only school i know of that tried to do anything even close to that was a district that occasionally used chicanery to convince parents of spec. ed. students to have their kids dismissed from spec. ed. so the district could use discipline programs that otherwise would have had to have gone through the ard process. when the texas education agency got wind of that it came to the district, got rid of some of the administrators who had pushed that, and they don’t do that any more. to put that another way, the public schools where i’m from don’t get to pick and choose students at all. that shit is illegal.
again, i’m speaking of what happens around here with charter schools, but generally if parents have moved their children to a charter school that turns out to be run with an eye more to the profit margin than to the educational benefit of the students, the only choice the parents have is to go back to the public school which has had its funding reduced to finance the charter school which is more of a vicious circle than a virtuous one.
Oh, come on, you’re totally fishing! I’m in California. What you described happens all over the country in a variety of ways. There are often lawsuits and often not, depending on the kind of people involved. Which is really the case in all of education. Public, charter, union, non-union, what makes a situation good or bad is the quality of the people involved. And there are good and bad (though, despite my cynicism, I think mostly good) people in education in every part of the country.
In California, the money follows the student. So, if they go back to their local public school, that school benefits. If, in Texas (where I’m from, btw!, and know some very devoted educators there), the money doesn’t follow the student, then I think that’s a big mistake, and can lead, especially in under-funded districts, to the kind of disparities that you’re quite right to be concerned about.
It happened to me. I was bullied in my first high school. I got labelled emotionally disturbed* so they didn’t have to deal with the bullying and I got transferred to another high school. I was bullied even worse in the second high school, and beaten up on a regular basis, and beaten unconscious by rumored neo-Nazis.
*Admittedly, years of bullying can leave one emotionally disturbed and struggling with ptsd and cptsd.