Defunding Schools

Democrats put futures ‘on the cheap’

(Image above: Benton Harbor High School student responds to Gov. Whitmer’s proposal, “closing our high school will destroy our community” June 5, 2019. Photo courtesy Detroit News)

Why, if the nascent and “critical” Build Back Better (BBB) plan is being touted as ‘transformative,” then on the defunding block we find free tuition at community colleges, funding of HBCUs (Historic Black Christian Universities), cancelling student debt…for starters?

How can we so facilely lower the boom on education as social opportunity?

The primary US Senate caucus room whine is ‘but do we have the money?’ Outside the caucus rooms, what we are hearing are variations on how to distribute “social worth.”

We hear ‘be patient,’ which is from the same lullaby: ‘your ship will sail,’ once passage is paid.

This is not ‘transformative;’ this is ‘transactional.’

Consider that collective futures are being ‘put on the cheap.’ The intersection of athletic prowess and acceptance into elite schools is evidence: individual performance meets the vicissitudes of scarcity.

So why aren’t there better schools?

Because America doesn’t or doesn’t want to know how to invest in education.

And Republicans who like privatizing their education on the public dime are standing by witnessing the political gyrations of the Democrats. Absent any real programs or social legislation Republicans lure voters into their culture war caves: CRT, mask mandates, teacher vaccination mandates, school openings, free speech, etc.

All about ‘education’ with a capital ‘E.’

In a recent opinion piece, NYTimes contributor Michelle Goldberg (cite) characterizes the Democrats as “the party of public education.”

Goldberg misses the point. Democrats are not the party of public education; Democrats are scuttling the concept of public education.

Item: No investigation of the tenure of former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

Item: No HBCU mandate.

Item: No Student loan cancellation.

Item: No community needs-support-and-education funding.

I’ll stop here.

Each of these items is not only ‘a line in the sand’ — a missed opportunity — but also a window into what restoring America’s schools would entail.

These are tomorrow’s Republican talking points focused on ‘see, they (Democrats) really don’t care.’

Let’s play a ‘connect the dots game.’

First dot

NYC Democrat Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s chaotic closing and then opening of the nation’s largest school system. A European observer shared some sociological wisdom: schools should be the last to close and the first to open; not the other way around.

Second dot

Michigan Democrat Governor Gretchen Whitmer proposes closing Benton Harbor High School, in order — in her words — to ‘save the (school) district.’ Presumably from wholesale privatization.

Third dot:

Republicans and their info-fabulists print/post/tweet candidate Terry McAuliffe’s ‘blunder’ of inviting NYTU President Randi Weingarten to a Fairfax, Virginia campaign rally. The woman, according to Republicans, who “kept schools closed for 18 months.” (untrue)

Fourth dot:

“Patents shouldn’t have a say in their children’s education.” — Democrat Candidate Terry McAuliffe (also untrue)

Connect the dots. What do we have?

On the surface a Democrat Mayor’s social-tone- deaf misstep, a Democrat Governor’s aborted attempt to restore a school by closing it, and third and fourth dots, ‘probable cause’ for a Democrat candidate’s defeat to a Republican and for a blue state (Virginia) tilting red.

Beneath the surface is a struggle of communities vying for ‘public’ dollars: At best a messy abstract painting…at worse, a glaring view of what looks like ‘schools without communities.’

At the surface, local ‘realpolitik;’ at the bottom inequality and social abuse.

What makes public education ‘public’ is equal benefit (opportunity) for equal investment (cost). By refusing/delaying to support this concept — as when a budget deficit looms — legislators rely on dismissing the ‘problem’ — inequality — substituting individual performance (test scores, etc.) which is tantamount to demoting a social contract.

And Democrats willingly participate in this false deliberation.

Test scores decline, funding is held back: it’s a race to the bottom.

On Sunday, November 7, we were treated to a “Special Section” of the NYTimes, “Snap Out Of It America” — a compendium of slick bromide-infested resolves for kicking America’s ass.

Glaring out from the newsprint was not a single piece on funding education or reversing defunding schools.

Convincingly, ‘deep thoughts’ about how to manage our future are not swinging schools’ way.

November 10

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Refuses to nap. Septuagenarian. Cliche’ raker. Writes weekly.

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Rodney Clough

Rodney Clough

Refuses to nap. Septuagenarian. Cliche’ raker. Writes weekly.

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