The Spark

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

Editorial:
Want Excellent Schools?
Don’t Wait on Politicians!

Mar 15, 2010

Having finished Bush’s commitment of trillions to the big banks, and added trillions to private insurance companies, private pharmaceutical companies and other “medical providers,” Obama has now turned his attention to education.

He says he is going to “overhaul” Bush’s “No Child Left Behind,” (NCLB) the program responsible for creating chaos in big city and rural school systems.

The main “accomplishments” of “No Child Left Behind” were to drain more money from the public schools into the pockets of private companies that benefitted from the testing regimen done under “No Child Left Behind”; and to drain more money from the public schools into the grasping hands of private individuals, profit-making companies and universities that set up charter schools as a way to carry out their own agenda, often for their own monetary benefit.

It ended up making teachers “teach to the test” – that is, to prepare students for one thing and one thing only: passing the tests on which the schools themselves were graded. To the exclusion of all else! No credit was given to the schools for the “extra” science and “extra” history they offered; no credit given for languages, arts, drama, athletics. No credit given for all those various subjects and interests that help develop a fully educated and well-rounded child.

Not only no credit. No money was given to carry out the wide range of mandates set up under No Child Left Behind. Schools systems were required to keep more records, make more reports, buy more testing materials – but they got no extra money to do it. Something had to give – and what gave was education.

“No Child Left Behind” needs to be junked.

But that’s not what Obama is proposing. He would continue the annual testing – he simply exchanged one platitude for another. Under Bush’s plan, testing was designed – supposedly – to help every child reach “proficiency” in math and reading. Under Obama’s new plan, testing will be designed – supposedly – to get all students to graduate from high school prepared for college and a career.

Of course, both are goals that should be fought for in this country. But they won’t be accomplished unless practical goals are also pursued.

Practically, this is what is required: enough, well-prepared teachers, so they really know their subject and have enough time to pay attention to the development of each child. That means, in the primary grades, 10 or 12 in a class. Maximum. It means really well-prepared books – available to everyone. It means full access to a well-stocked library. It means supplies so that science experiments can be performed. It means learning laboratories, where children can be immersed in other languages from an early age – which is one of the best ways to help a child understand his or her own language. It means computer labs where children can be immersed in the latest technology.

These are some of the things the best schools provide – the ones set up to serve the children of the wealthy. But these things cost money. And that’s exactly what Bush didn’t provide, exactly what Obama is not proposing to provide. A few hundred millions, perhaps. Even ten or so billion dollars.

But what’s that on the scale of what was provided and set aside for the big banks, 14.4 trillion dollars?

As the saying goes: Put your money where your mouth is!

Obama, just like Bush before him, puts his money with the banks and with the schools for the wealthy, while his mouth spouts platitudes about an excellent education for every child.

Children of the working class will have an excellent education when the teachers, the parents and the students fight for it!