I have never been convinced that throwing money at a problem is the best way to solve it. Indeed, having a problem to solve is the best way to ask for money. Funding a study and delaying the application of what we know can be regressive as well as progressive. That aside, public school administrations throughout the United States have been clamoring about budget deficits which result in the need to (1) lay off professional personnel and (2) give away public schooling. And they've been persistent enough to convince even me.
But I am uneasy. Perhaps the loud howl about money is a diversion? Am I just a conspiracy theorist from the old left? My ex-students don't think so; they think I just care too much about everything. I know we are in a world-wide financial depression. I also believe that this truth is covering other moves of a regressive nature, and the public education crisis is just the one I am most familiar with.
Here in Philadelphia, the hidden agenda is to destroy powerful unions which really do have the quality of work and the quality of schooling as top concerns. The last two Superintendents had been very successful at what the state wanted them to do: break the back of public schooling in order to make possible business deals in the profit sector of our economy. I was astonished that President Obama didn't see this ploy as he turned the heat up from "No child left behind" to "No teacher doing a good job." I watched my own school aim for higher scores on tests which falsely evaluated the system while teaching children that anything goes if they win and are not caught. By the time I retired with disability, my heart was as broken as my back was tired. My mind was as pinched as my spinal chord. The work atmosphere in my school was at a life-time low.
Articles like today's "Cash on Hand" at PennLive.com raise different questions: If there is a monetary surplus within the Pennsylvania budget, why is that not being applied in a way to save public education? Who and/or what sees privatization as a solution to what they see as problems? Ample warning has been given that privatizing education breaks the constitutional guarantee of free education for all and builds in automatic privilege for those who make the schools look good. This is the aspect of testing that has not gotten enough publicity: Public schools test everyone whereas private schools test those who they wish to include. Who loses? Democracy as a whole loses its argument for itself when it goes back to the leaden age of equality for the few. Class-ism trumps racism. As James Baldwin noted, long ago: For these are all our children. We will all profit by, or pay for, whatever they become.
I note that I have a few passive statements above; my analysis is not complete and my links could be more complete and persuasive. I hope my readers will correct this deficit in their comments, be they for or against my argument.