Monday, February 13, 2017

Funding urban education at the whim of private enterprise

Lastly, the framers' decision to place the provisions concerning education in "The Frame of Government" -- rather than in the "Declaration of Rights" -- demonstrates that the framers conceived of education as fundamentally related to the very existence of government.                                                 McDuffy v. Secretary, 1993
Front page article in the T&G today on something we all knew was happening: "Urban districts lean on private support as public funds dwindle."

Let's talk for a minute about how problematic this is.

The biggest problem is what I've posted above from McDuffy v: education is a public endeavor, which is to be done for the public good, and thus is done with public funds. Allowing private enterprise to determine what is funded not only runs us right into this careerism focus which is plaguing education now, anyway; it sends us into territory in which private enterprise determines what public education is to be. While this is in keeping with much of what is happening in government now, we should fight to keep it away from public education. Public education isn't to give companies their next round of workers; it's to make sure we continue having a democracy.

The more immediate danger, of course, is that pointed to by Tom Scott:
any acceptance in Massachusetts that businesses and individuals can replace what taxes should be paying for is a "dangerous path to go down."
Contrary to what he says, though, I'd say we're already there. When the superintendent of the Worcester Public Schools estimates that she's spending 20% of her time wooing businesses, when there's a 25,000 student public system that's needing leadership; when the Governor thinks that a fundamental reform of how we fund public education in the Commonwealth isn't among the most pressing issues on his plate; and when we have private companies talking of training their employees in issues of education to assist, we're already there.

We need funding reform, and we need it yesterday.

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