Teachers describe the terrible state of American education

This started back when they started de-segregating schools. Remember, this was so strongly opposed in places like Virginia that some counties voted to shut down their public schools rather than integrate them . The total shutdown ended up getting overturned, but white parents continued to send their kids to all white private, and typically religious, schools. These “segregation academies” also sought charitable tax-exempt status. The case Green v. Connally instead found that segregation was by definition not charitable and ordered the IRS to revoke their tax-exempt status; the Supreme Court unaminously upheld this decision in Coit v. Green. This “interference” in the management of schools telling them who the could and couldn’t admit outraged white Evangelicals, and sparked the formation of the Moral Majority and the Christian Right. And they’ve been fighting to keep their kids away from icky public schools ever since (and preferably on the government’s dime).



Thank you.

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Attacking motives is exactly what you can do. Doing ostensibly the right thing for the wrong reason is still worthy of disdain.


From what I can tell the main problem with poorly performing schools is that they’re full of poor kidss, and being poor throws up all sorts of hurdles. If poverty means that you have to skip meals because you can’t afford them, live with a toothache because you can’t see a dentist, spend the night shivering under the covers because the heat got cut off, and do your homework all on your own because your single mom has to work two or three jobs, you just might struggle to keep up academically. Poor kids are also less likely to get the benefits of pre-school, more likely to be one of the half-million kids with lead-poisoning, and a host of other obstacles that escape me while typing in the early am.


i wouldn’t know what a teachers union is because i’m prohibited by state law from being part of one. on the other hand, i can’t go to a social event without at least five republicans telling me what a shame my profession has been or is being ruined by government run schools. my comment represents my daily experience your experiences may certainly be different if you live in another state.


Ah… SIr Ken Robinson. The darling of the school reform movement. Schools kill creativity. And his support for that is a 50 year old study about paperclips and a bunch of platitudes.

Perhaps Sweden isn’t the best example.

Amongst the problems with the Charter schools and vouchers is they put all the resources into kids that already are likely to succeed. When you cream all the smart kids from a school but still base that school’s funding on their academic performance, that’s a problem.


There are all sorts of special programs for gifted and talented student (teachers can receive certification in it) but virtually nothing for poor students. When people talk about how bad American students perform against those from other countries, our top students are as good as any top performing student in the world. It’s our poor kids that is at issue.

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From a German perspective that is so alien, although I realize that Americans tend to prefer their institutions very local.

Here all public school teachers are employed by the states (which have about the population of US states on average.) Only facilities and non-teaching staff are provided by smaller subdivisions down to the city level.

Numerous times I have seen new American expats who asked for rankings of the schools near their German destination and were really surprised and sometimes even annoyed when told that there is no such thing really because all schools of the same type are kind of the same.


Audiobooks for the SPECIAL ED students, who need to learn in alternate ways. Ditto for the construction paper. And why do you assume the word “snacks” automatically means junk food?

What you’ve shown is that you don’t read for clarity and you approach the subject with negative assumptions.


i don’t know where you live but it’s clear you don’t live anywhere around texas. the majority of teachers and administrators are in small to medium-sized districts in which 20+ year veteran teachers can make around $50k and as for $100k+ salaries that might include the superintendent and the athletic director. most principals end up with about $60-65k and their contracts require them to work more days than teachers and require them to spend many unpaid hours over and beyond what teachers do.

the thing that most people don’t seem to understand is that 85-90% of school district budgets are tied up in salaries for personnel. when you talk about cutting budgets what you mean is cutting out teachers, aids, custodians, cooks, and bus drivers.

as for putting “why some people cry” above math and science, (1) i don’t even know what that is, and (2) the focus on high-stakes testing has led to elimination of almost everything that isn’t tested around here. art programs? almost gone. music programs? except for the band which gets paid for out of football receipts along with every other sport besides football we don’t have a school sponsored music program. there might be a few arts magnet schools in the largest metropolitan areas that offer some humanities and arts as part of their mission but for the run of the mill schools it’s gone to make way for tutorial classes and longer blocks in math and reading.

as for your closer, what you should really be disrespectful of is the whole concept of “zero tolerance” which started with “broken windows” policing and swept through society as a way of using law and rule enforcement to deal with social problems by harsh and immediate punishment. schools will always reflect the larger society and in the adoption of “zero tolerance” codes that process has proceeded apace. what that has to do with funding education is hard for me to understand.


Especially considering the fact that states use the lottery revenue to justify slashing funding for education in the official budget (hey, they already got all that lottery money, right?), freeing up money to go to the things they really care about…which isn’t the average citizens of their state, and especially not the children.


I remember when this sort of subject came up before. This is what happened when Seattle tried to desegregate its schools:


i have multiple interests in a more equitable and generous distribution of money for education.

i’ve said before that i am a teacher. i wouldn’t turn down more money but i won’t spend a lot of time complaining about that because i work in a district that does a little better than many others so they pay me somewhat above state base salary, besides which my wife has the well-paying, if physically taxing, job of being a rural letter carrier with the us postal service. there are teachers in other districts much worse off than me and those teachers deserve better pay than they’re getting.

what worries me more is that the predominately white power structure in the state government has made many decisions that have resulted in schools with a lot of hispanic and african-american students to get the short end of the stick. people have long memories when it comes to mistreatment and as the demographics of the state change and the white power structure can no longer maintain itself it will be replaced by a structure with a long history of being neglected and deprived. that could lead to an unfortunate reckoning in a state where 52% of all enrolled students are hispanic and only 29% are white.

i also have another interest in equity because my grandsons are mixed race boys who resemble trayvon martin much more than they do rick perry. the way the system works places them at a distinct disadvantage which i entirely resent. although mixed race students are only 2% of the student population they are the fastest growing demographic in texas increasing at a rate of 9-11% per year for the past 5 years. i’ve often wondered whether the cure for racism might not be through increasing numbers of mixed race partnerships and children.

the social policies of my state in general have resulted in the increasing impoverishment of the citizens of texas. presently, 60% of all texas students are economically disadvantaged with all the educational disadvantages that flow from that.

none of my concerns are easily remedied but i can’t imagine any solution that involves reducing educational funding in this state. it’s all too easy to say things like “we need to just eliminate federal funding of education and force school districts to learn to get by with reasonable budgets” if you aren’t the one living with the consequences of those reductions.

edit-- @daneel i know you aren’t talking about eliminating funding, my thought started with demographics which was sparked by looking at your graph and then i rambled on to other places.


There is a class war in this country. It was started and is being sustained by the upper class. The war on the public schools is the most obvious and worst manifestation.

The upper classes have spent decades wrecking the public schools because they want a permanent underclass of cheap labor. They want people who have never learned how to actually think, who are just barely capable of reading a campaign slogan, because such people are easier to control. Such people are more likely to be intimidated by the complexities of issues in elections, or in salary negotiations, or in the legalities of unemployment. As a natural consequence, such people are much more likely to simply accept what they’re told and do as they’re told. In politics they are more likely to listen to whoever shouts loudest and longest. In employment they are more likely to take whatever they’re offered because they’re afraid they won’t be able to figure out how to make or find a better deal.

Good education makes it possible for people to get better employment. The upper class wants a huge pool of people who are chronically underemployed, who have to work multiple jobs to make ends meet. Such people don’t have the time to attend political rallies or take part in any kind of activities for the purpose of promoting social changes.

Another reason for their war on education is the fact they don’t want their spawn to have competition. A good education (or at least an education at the “right” schools) is crucial to getting upper-level jobs. If their children are the only ones who can afford the private schools that are the only schools which actually teach and produce results, that ensures their children will be the only ones who will ever have a chance at any jobs above scut work.

The simple fact that the right wing has been successful in demonizing teachers, of all people, is proof that their efforts have borne fruit. Most people are such selfish, thoughtless pigs that out of simple childish, idiotic jealously they will gladly attack anyone they think is getting a better deal than they are. So because they think teachers have some kind of easy slide, they take out their piggish feelings on people whose job is to give their children a chance at a better future.

Back in the 19th century, during the so-called “Gilded Age,” the gulf between rich and poor was even worse than it is now. It was an era when the upper class attended $10,000-a-plate fundraising dinners, while a common working man was doing good to earn 25 cents a day. And in that era, teachers were not demonized. Teachers then were respected and even lionized, because the lower classes were sensible enought to realize that education was a path for their children toward a better life. But today, too many of the lower classes are willing to use teachers as their whipping boys because they are stupider now. The war on education has worked, and the people who need edcucation have lost - in large part because they are so stupid they have actively collaborated with the upper class who despise them in destroying the very thing that they should fight to the death to defend - the chance for their children to learn how to think.

Anyone who is so God damn stupid they will demonize teachers DESERVES to have their children condemned to working as janitors their entire lives. Such people have probably passed their stupidity genes to those children.


Yup, yup, yup. And boy-oh-boy is it working.


i worry how much is going to the teacher unions, however? that said, I pay taxes for school, yet I send my kid to a private school.

Why? because an elementary school should not have metal detectors and stories of raped teachers.

is private school expensive? yes. i have not put a nickle in my retirement fund for the past 3 years.

is it worth it? yes.

am I super rich mr. moneybags? sitting around plotting world domination? NO, I am a regular middle aged, middle class (what’s left of it) guy, trying to make sure my kid is not another idiot.

is it frustrating? you betcha!

do I wish I could do something to change the system? you betcha!

will anything I do make a difference? nope.

yeah, feels GREAT!

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Sod all, probably. Unless teacher unions are wildly different to my union, I’d guess dues are about $50 a month.

Wouldn’t it be better if public schools were better and you could save for your retirement?

Edit: and as @navarro points out, if you’re in Texas, the answer is $0. (Also the Carolinas, Georgia and Virginia)


I’m actually shocked. I didn’t know teachers’ unions were banned in Texas.

Teachers’ unions are one of the few remaining bastions of labor strength in the US, and have been very important in a lot of struggles in the last few years. And look at the importance of teachers’ unions in social struggles in Mexico – consider the significance of the normalistas, and the massive protests over government involvement in the disappearance of 43 student teachers from Ayotzinapa.

So it’s quite disturbing that teachers’ unions have been banned anywhere.


much of the southern united states has similar bans.

The Philadelphia school system spends $20,000 per student. That should be enough money for supplies for each student. It seems the issue is corruption and inefficiency not one of political philosophy.

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