School Daze: America Commits to Dumbing-Down

Posted June 23, 2010 on 8:21 pm | In the category Economy, Education, Taxes, U.S. Domestic Policy | by Jeff

Facing budget deficits with little or no hope that the federal government can bail them out (nowadays bail outs with public money are reserved for private corporations like Goldman Sachs, AIG, etc.) cities, towns and states are faced with a Hobson’s choice; raise taxes or reduce services. And in almost all cases the people opt for the latter.

Concord Massachusetts recently decided to turn off street lights in certain parts of town unless the nearby homeowners would pay a special fee of $17 a month per light. By calling it a fee they obviously avoid the “T” word.  Boston has eliminated 58 library staff positions and proposes closing several branches, and a town in California is now charging a fee for ambulance service  – to be paid in advance as a hedge against needing it later.

But America’s schools are taking the biggest hit and cities and towns are coming up with strategies that range from bizarre to simply inexcusable. Many schools are dropping “less important” courses like art, civics, physical education, foreign languages and music. Others are charging fees for what used to be important services – school buses, sports programs, school clubs – even books! In Utah the possibility of simply eliminating the 12th grade has surfaced for consideration. Other areas are moving from a five day to a four day week. But the typical approach is to simply reduce the number of teachers, consequently increasing classroom size and reducing teachers’ ability to provide the kind of one on one instruction that can make the difference between success and failure.

In some areas citizens are raising funds outside the tax structure to provide additional support to their children’s schools; increasing the disparity among schools in different socio-economic districts, and excusing citizens from a basic responsibility to support the education of  our future  citizens. It is clear to many that in short-changing our children we are contributing to a serious decline in America’s ability to compete in the global economy and to move toward a higher quality of life. We will reap what we sow and at present it looks like a lot of weeds in our future.

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