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Starving Public Education to Make Parents Demand Charters

June 8, 2017

Recently, Real News Network interviewed Glen Ford on the topic of cuts to public education. Mr. Ford, radio-show host and commentator who in 1977 co-launched, produced and hosted America’s Black Forum, the first nationally syndicated Black news interview program on commercial television, unsurprisingly pulled no punches in the interview. Mr. Ford opened by noting that the recent cuts in Oklahoma are only the most recent reductions and emphasizing that the cuts to education have persisted despite the recovery elsewhere in the economy. The Real News interviewer described the deplorable conditions in the schools in Baltimore, where the show was broadcast and asked “What are the expected outcomes and what are people supposed to do about this?” Here was Mr. Ford’s response:

They’re expected to demand charter schools. That’s what they’re expected to do. They’re expected also to somehow blame other forces for the deterioration of schools, when their kids can’t concentrate on learning because of those physical circumstances that you described. They’re supposed to blame teachers for that, and blame teachers’ unions. They’re supposed to blame everybody except the folks who are really responsible for denying funding for the schools. We have to understand that 46% of the funding for education doesn’t come from localities, and it doesn’t come from the federal government. In fact, the federal government provides the smallest share, the smallest portion for education. It comes from the states. State funding’s based upon taxation, and taxation policy is based upon what corporations allow, so those same corporations that talk about a 21st century school system in which there are modern labs and there are school days that really reflect something other than agricultural society and there are teachers that are administered to much smaller classrooms, well those are the people who could fund the public schools and make them conform to that modern model. But don’t, because they want people to go to the alternative system that reflects corporate values and a corporate view of society, and certainly is not unionized, and has no notion of community control of education either.

What Glen Ford didn’t mention in the brief time he was allotted but would agree with is this: the “blame game” he outlined in his response is reinforced by the corporate media and by the politicians who accept donations from the corporations who get tax benefits. The taxpayers are then led to resent public employees who are treated better than they are and told repeatedly that “government is the problem”. In short, the budget cuts to schools is not a bug in our system… it’s a feature.

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