The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Baltimore city school mess:
Teachers tired of blame

Feb 16, 2004

On February 6, Baltimore City teachers voted an angry "NO" to demands from the administration for either a pay cut or layoffs. The financially troubled school system had already laid off hundreds of people from administration and support services at Christmas time.

The mayor of Baltimore came back with a counter-offer, a smaller pay cut combined with a loan of eight million dollars from the city. On February 12, the Baltimore City teachers took a second vote, which was an even more resounding "NO."

For years, politicians tried to make teachers cover for what the city, state and federal government didn't provide to the schools – whether by carrying a heavier class load, more students per class or even by paying for books and supplies out of their own pockets.

Well, it seems the teachers here had enough of trying to patch together what the politicians have torn up.

With their vote, the teachers clearly said they wouldn't shoulder the blame any more. "This is your mess. You want accountability, you look in the mirror," as one teacher said at a school board meeting.

Yet politicians do have money that could be spent on education. They simply choose to use it for other things. What happened with Morgan Stanley, one of the largest stock brokerages in the U.S., is typical. The corporation just received a 1.75-million-dollar loan from Baltimore City and a 5.5-million-dollar package from the state. Both Baltimore and Maryland say they have budget deficits and have to cut back on personnel and on services. Yet they can still afford corporate welfare.

Morgan Stanley is just one example of the give-aways common in every city and state. It helps us see where the politicians are willing to spend money – not on educating children.

As a Baltimore writer and cartoonist put it in the local paper:

"As ever, errors by the bosses

Turn into the teachers' losses.

It's called in Washington,

'Starving the beast':

Taking what's left

from those with the least."