Thursday, December 10, 2009

Economic Crisis and school budgets

    The nation  including California is suffering a severe recession.  Twenty Six million  are unemployed and under employed. This crisis was created by finance capital and banking, mostly on Wall Street ,ie. Chase Banks, Bank of America, AIG, and others.   Finance capital produced a $ trillion bailout of the financial industry, the doubling of America’s unemployment rate and the loss of 2 million manufacturing jobs in 2008.  Fifteen million people are out of work.  You and I, and college students did not create this crisis.  Finance capital stole the future of many young people.   It is important in developing  responses  to distinguish between the financial bail out (TARP) and the stimulus plan (ARRA, 2009).  Fox News and the Republican Right like to merge these two as one.
            If we don’t find a way to stop Wall Street from controlling  our government, the standard of living of working people will continue to decline and we will continue to have economic crises.  As a minimum, we need to extend unemployment benefits for long term unemployed.

Several  writers have sought to blame the budget problems on  the pensions of public employees. The problem is not the good pensions of public employees.  The problem is that private employees don’t have these good health care and pension benefits- as they should and as  do working people in Europe. 
A  major  improvement of both k -12  and higher education funding  is required to have a positive economic future for the state. At present California is not producing the educated professionals needed.  Last year the state spent more money on prisons than on higher education.
The basic problem is lack of public investment.  California is in danger of losing quality human capital. The economic future is at stake.
In the 60’s and the 70’s California investment in k-12 and higher education.  Since 2000 , this investment has been abandoned (even before the economic crisis).  Quality higher education is currently being destroyed.  These are the actions of the legislature and the administration.
Well over 50% of California  schools are doing quite well- even with  the draconian cuts in school budgets.   There is a group of schools where students are failing at disgraceful rates- and these schools are almost all in poverty areas.  The late Gerald Bracey pointed out that U.S. schools with less than 25 percent of their students in poverty  outscore all other countries in math and science.
Our   children only fall below the international average when 75 percent or more of the students in a school live in poverty.  The political economy of the U.S. creates  the highest level of childhood poverty of industrialized countries and in the process creates school failure.
           The corporate agenda is to blame the schools and  scapegoat teachers for the crisis created by the corporate  domination of our economy and politics.

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