Why should the rich educate other people's children?

Eliminating public education has appeal for small-government conservatives, for libertarians opposed to policies that smack of “collectivism,” and even for the anti-secular religious right. Eliminating unions has appeal for Republicans. Public employee unions are among the few remaining large institutional competitors. But there is something else, too. The conservative push to defund public education in America – through school vouchers, charter schools, budget cuts, etc. – isn’t just about politics, ideology and fiscal restraint, but about money and class.

Just months ago, eliminating tax rate “uncertainty” was the conservative rationale for preserving the Bush tax cuts for America’s wealthiest. The euphemism for eliminating teachers’ collective bargaining rights is “flexibility,” or as someone else said, balancing budgets by trimming the fat in the constitution. The assault on public schools led by Wisconsin governor Scott Walker (and supported by the billionaire Koch brothers), is just the leading edge of a national offensive being carried out in Indiana, Ohio, and elsewhere where flexibility is in vogue.

In Providence, RI last week, the local school board voted to send termination notices to the city’s 1,926 public school teachers out of what the mayor called a need for “maximum flexibility.” Local teacher’s union president, Tom Smith, called the move, “a back-door Wisconsin.”

Wall Street has to be protected from uncertainty. Public employees just need to suck it up and cope with it.

In Tennessee, legislation for eliminating collective bargaining rights for public school teachers comes to a vote in the state Senate this week. More than 3,000 showed up last week in Nashville to protest the legislation. Republican Gov. Bill Haslam also hopes to make tenure more difficult to obtain and to lift the cap on the formation of charter schools.

This week in neighboring North Carolina, where Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue wields a veto, the new Republican state legislature still hopes to pass Senate Bill 8, “No Cap on Number of Charter Schools.” SB8 – similar to the Tennessee measure – would eliminate the current cap of 100 charter schools, plus the requirement that charter schools have a minimum of 65 students. This will give charter schools (even home-schoolers, say critics) broad access to public funds, undercutting funding for traditional public schools. Appearing last week with other Democratic legislators opposed to the bill, Buncombe County representative Susan Fisher described the bill as “a backdoor voucher system.” Rep. Patsy Keever called SB8 “the dismantling of the public school system.”

People concerned with creating jobs insist that an educated workforce is key to America’s continued competitiveness and prosperity. One would think America’s moneyed interests would support public education for that reason alone. Because they need educated workers. Or do they?

In the Atlantic’s “The Rise of the New Global Elite,” Chrystia Freeland describes the super-rich as “a nation unto themselves,” more connected to each other than to their countries or their neighbors. Freeland writes that “the business elite view themselves increasingly as a global community, distinguished by their unique talents and above such parochial concerns as national identity, or devoting ‘their’ taxes to paying down ‘our’ budget deficit.” Thomas Wilson, CEO of Allstate, explains that globalization means, “I can get [workers] anywhere in the world. It is a problem for America, but it is not necessarily a problem for American business …” Why should it be?

In a global economy driven more and more by bottom-line thinking, public education is just another community expense the elite would rather not bear, isn’t it? The rich can afford private schools for their children and have little need for educated workers in the multiple cities where they own houses. How much education do gardeners and waiters really need anyway?

Why should the global elite pay taxes to educate the children of those below their station? Why pay to educate workers when they can import them on H-1B or L-1 visas and pay them less than American workers? As Allstate’s CEO implied, their companies can easily set up shop in India, Indonesia or China. Globalization means multinational corporations can simply swoop in and exploit an educated workforce in countries that have already incurred the sunk costs of developing that resource. And multinationals get to pay those foreign workers less to boot. Whether here or abroad, why not just let somebody else pay taxes for educating other people’s children?

(Cross-posted from Campaign for America's Future.)


More on same

In looking to see in which states teachers and educators were under direct attack, I scanned back over past two or so years. Here is the list, in case you somehow think that these movements are not stimulated and directed nationally. This is a countrywide attack.

North Carolina (charters and vouchers)
New York
New Jersey
Rhode Island

Again, I also observe that national and state GOP people are attacking education because educators generally vote Democratic and contribute liberally (both figuratively and literallty. The attack on the Democrats, of which they appear only nominally aware continues apace.



Here is the very hard news: Half a billion dollars H41

In looking at the NC Department of NonPublic Education, I found the following:

Private students (70% religious)2009-10 96,421
Home school students 81,509
Total 177,930

Now, multiply 177,930 students, private and home schooled by $2500 offered in H41 annually in vouchers and you get:

$444,825,000, or a very, very big number at risk-exposure

Note: There are no totals included in H41, just another minor detail.

This is the amount needed to provide a voucher to each and every student in non-public education annually for now, and certain to grow. As you might think, as more folks opt for non public education, they will increase these costs radically - are we talking a billion dollars in 5-7 years? And, now from where do you think the money for this adventure in vouchers will come? Why of course out of the hides of the public schools.

home schools

private schools

None of this addresses the grand sums which will be required by the expansion of charter schools, to include funds for their capital expenses and other adjustments to make them fully replace public schools. Charter schools admit to 36,007 students currently under the 100 school cap. So you can see the problem is with the private and home schooled students in this giveaway, and note that in private schools, 70% are religious. Got to have our own madrassas for Skip Stam.


There is the research and the sources. Do your own math. Tell everyone you know.



By the same logic

Why should the poor pay to enforce other people's one-sided contracts?

50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts