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Posts Tagged ‘funding equity’

This Just In: Children Addicted to Free Lunch Become Spoiled Tools of Socialism

August 31, 2021 Comments off

New York Magazine writer Sarah Jones offers a good overview of the reasoning behind the Waukesha WI School Board’s recent and widely reported decision to deny free school lunch to it’s children… and it offers an good insight to the thinking behind anti-government elected to boards and legislatures across the country. So why did the school board decide to withhold its application for universal free lunch?

According to one school-board member, children could “become spoiled.” The school district’s assistant superintendent for business services worried that there would be a “slow addiction” to the free meals. This is a fascinating way to talk about children and their families, who do possess a biological need for food. Whether that need amounts to a “slow addiction” is a matter of opinion. And opinion in this country has become badly skewed.

Conflating a biological need with spoiling children or a “slow addiction” is crazy-making. But my guess is the board member and the assistant superintendent for business are REALLY concerned about creeping dependence on the government for assistance, creeping socialism. Where is the line between “dependence on the government” and cold-blooded Social Darwinism? Providing food to needy children hardly seems like a slippery slope to socialism. Indeed, withholding funds for a critical need seems more like a slippery slope to libertarianism. The next thing you know the school board will cut busing to school because bringing kids to school “spoils them” and bringing them for free is a “slow addiction to free public transportation”… and we wouldn’t want to stifle their independence by making them ride together with other children on a bus! 

Wall Street Pockets Loans Money, Pockets Fees, Gets a Tax Break. Schools Spend More on Debt Service than Textbooks. What is Wrong With This Picture?

August 28, 2021 Comments off

The headline of this post captures the essence of this NYTimes article by Eleni Shirmer, a research associate with The Future of Finance Initiative at U.C.L.A.’s Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy, an article that opens with a description of the financing methods forced upon the Philadelphia School district and contains some stunning national data like this:

In 2012, state and local governments across the country paid an estimated $3.8 billion just in bond issuance fees — more than twice the amount used to fund pre-K education across New York State in 2014. In 2021, the Philadelphia School District paid $311.5 million to service its debt. More than half — $162 million — went to Wall Street creditors as interest payments.

The problem is only getting bigger. In 2019, K-12 school debt across the country nearly reached $500 billion, a 118 percent increase from 2002.

The bottom line?

As long as bond markets finance so many of our country’s public schools, dreams of education equality will remain thwarted. The bloodless logic of credit and debt markets ensures that those with the least pay the most.

Imagine if we funded schools through interest-free loans from our own central bank or by taxing rich residents and corporations, instead of borrowing from them and paying for the privilege of using their money. “We really can do this without Wall Street,” ACRE’s deputy research director, Britt Alston, told me. “We have the tools. Our public systems, while flawed, have the ability to serve our communities beyond what Wall Street could ever imagine.”

The money exists to transform this corrosive financial architecture; does the political will?

As one who prepared budgets for public school systems for nearly three decades I doubt that we do. In order to REALLY realize the dreams of education equality a complete overhaul of the STATE taxing systems would be needed, an overhaul that would eliminate over-reliance on property taxes and (gasp) require the redistribution of broad-based tax revenues. Early in my career in New Hampshire, I thought that such a transformation in that state was plausible and possible…. over 30 years later, I’m discouraged.

All the News Just Repeats Itself… Like Some Forgotten Dream… That We’ve All Seen

August 13, 2021 Comments off

This paraphrase from John Prine’s “Hello in There” captures my feelings when I read articles like Common Dream’s Brett Wilkins’ on how the Koch network has infiltrated public education and undercut its mission and its funding. I’ve been writing this blog for nearly ten years and in that time frame hoped that as the general public became aware of how power hungry, anti-democratic, and avaricious billionaires like the Koch brothers hoped to take over public education and destroy the opportunity for children born into poverty that things might change. Alas, the findings in the study Mr. Wilkins writes about are no different now than they would have been 10 years ago… and until there is some kind of awakening we will continue to see the erosion of public education as it is privatized.