Getting Public Support for Schools

By Nora Carr

With state budgets crumbling, public education and public school employees have become easy targets.

Multiple state legislatures are debating toxic legislation that would send even more taxpayer dollars to for-profit companies to build and run schools, ease already lax accountability measures for charter schools, and pay incentives to parents who take their children out of public school.

Forget school reform. This is an all-out war on public education, with teachers tarred and feathered as lazy, incompetent, uncaring, and overpaid.

The notion that educator pay and benefits are too rich in comparison with the private sector would be laughable if so many people, including elected officials and an elite and well-financed cadre of public school reformers, didn’t believe it.

Why a nation that is still struggling to overcome the worst economic meltdown since the Great Depression wants to put its faith in the same market-based forces that created this mess in the first place is baffling to understand.

Children are not widgets. Teachers are not assembly line workers. Public schools are more than just another commodity in the marketplace; public schools -- free, open, and accessible to all -- are the seed beds of democracy.

When we lose faith in the ideal of the common school for the common good, and when we use the current fiscal crisis to gut public schools, we despoil our heritage and squander our future.

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