Opinions and Rants #31: Schooool's Out For Ever!
It seems like state after state is deciding to balance their budget by shafting the government employees, namely teachers. While I agree there's a bloating at the top, and a lot of practices highlighted in Waiting for Superman are unbelievably inane, I still have doubts whether this the right thing to do.
Here's the deal: the gap between the wealthiest Americans and the middle class has accelerated exponentially. There simply wasn't the magnitude of separation between rich and poor back in the sixties and seventies; this is an inarguable point, the numbers are clear. As a consequence of the unprecedented accumulation of wealth among the top five to ten percent, the middle class has shrunk and become closer and closer aligned with the lower class. It's something akin to France before the French Revolution, and Russia before the Bolsheviks brought down the Czars.
With this fact in mind, recall that our government spent billions upon billions of dollars bailing out these Fortune 500 companies. We made damn sure these guys didn't suffer the loss of a nickel, and were steadfast in ensuring they got their gigantic severance packages. They were simply too big to fail; or so said Obama's advisors, all former AIG and Goldman Sachs CEOs.
Amid 563 billion taxpayer dollars being funneled to Wall Street, now we suddenly are budget conscious? NOW we suddenly are fed up with the "fat cat" teachers?
Let me get this straight. The government tosses aside the gold standard causing our dollar to deflate. Then we get over a TRILLION dollars in debt, much of it borrowed from China. We spend billions upon billions waging a war which almost no one supports, and we cough up even more billions to big companies (Fannie Mae got 90 billion dollars!)..... and NOW all of a sudden we're penny pinchers and want to make teachers learn the meaning of "sacrifice"?
It's not uncommon to hear level headed intellectuals like Glenn Beck (sarcasm alert) rail against our failing educational system. The thing of it is, in the wealthier well-to-do districts our public schools actually outstrip Finland, the current "high water mark" in terms of education. It's only in the mid to lower income areas, that you see a problem. Is it the teacher's fault that these kids come from fatherless and poverty stricken homes? Are these teachers somehow worse educators than the teachers in the uppity districts? Hell, no. It's just that poor districts have hurdles to overcome that Finland could never dream of.
Indeed, as the gap widens between the ultra rich and the rest of us, the more "problem" neighborhoods we're going to see. As the distribution of wealth gets more and more uneven, the number of poverty stricken areas will increase, and thus our schools will continue their downward spiral.
And what is our solution? Slash teacher benefits.
Maybe I'm just crazy, but I think this won't solve a damn thing. I'll wager that five years from now Wisconsin, Ohio, Alabama and any other states getting on the bandwagon will still be broke and have shitty schools.
Perhaps, just perhaps, our schools and our state budgets might improve if we focus on our economy - considering that's the root cause of both problems. Perhaps the 563 billion bailout wasn't money well spent and we should liquidate and collect on it. Perhaps we could save billions by getting out of the Middle East. Perhaps we could generate billions in taxable revenue by giving incentives to companies to stay in the US rather than ship operations to third world nations.... and put a tariff on certain imports. Perhaps we could save billions by stopping this ineffective war on marijuana. Perhaps we should work on reinstating the gold standard, etc., etc., ....
Nahhh. Let's just cut teachers' benefits. That'll help.