That’s what it’s coming down to… class wars in our schools.
With the budget cuts at the federal, state, and local levels, politicians are creating class wars in education. Our ‘illustrious’ Secretary of Education states that we in public education will have to learn to do more with less funding. This is tagged as “The New Normal.” But what happens when budget cuts are so severe and un-funded mandates regarding test scores, AYP, etc. continue to pile on?
This is what happens:
The wealthy pull their kids out of public schools, if they haven’t done so already, and pay to have them educated in a school of their choosing. Those parents find the schools that provide the programs they want for their children. These schools are not necessarily subject to federal mandates, usually have significantly less standardized testing, and often have much of the school day devoted to enrichment studies beyond math and language arts.
Children living in poverty do not have those options. They continue to attend schools with less funding. These are the schools which are forced to cut libraries, teacher librarians, music, art, drama, theater, physical education, recess… all those teachers, classes and programs that research says are best for kids to grow, develop, and learn.
For those kids in more affluent families, even if they have no private choices for school, parents still find and pay for programs outside the school day- club sports, private music instruction, etc. – to fill the void that is missing in the public schools. Kids in less affluent families are left to their own devices.
If, as Horace Mann stated:
Education, then, beyond all other devices of human origin, is the great equalizer of the conditions of man, – the balance-wheel of the social machinery.
… it seems as if our politicians are out to upset that “balance-wheel. ” Without a strong public education available for ALL students, we cannot have democracy, or even our representative democracy. We will have separate classes of education and an ever-growing divide between the have’s and the have-not’s.
I would argue, Mr. Duncan, that this is NOT the new normal. This is a disgrace to the children of the country you purport to serve.
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*clapping* Duncan once said that education is the civil rights movement of our time. I have to agree with him and wish he would remember his own words and act accordingly. It is unacceptable that we would watch this unfold without it pulling us to action. Every child deserves a full learning experience. To provide them less than that because we can’t figure the budget out is unacceptable.
My guess, Kelly, is that many of these politicians have forgotten all their problem-solving skills and are taking the easy out. I’m so deeply troubled by what’s happening in our country right now… it’s overwhelming to me. I find myself, more and more, keeping my head down and losing myself in my job with my students. Seeing their faces helps me remember daily why I do what I do.
I so agree with you. It bothers me a lot when I see kids being left behind in our age of No Child Left Behind. It almost feels like the politicians want to create a society of haves and have nots because they don’t want to think about or deal with the have nots. I hope that education for all is not destroyed. Hanging our heads and doing our jobs and ignoring the problems (even though it is much easier and less stressful) may be creating more problems.