The Spark

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

Editorial:
When Teachers are Attacked, Students Pay

Aug 20, 2012

In Detroit this summer, teachers waited to find out which of them would have a teaching job, where they would teach and what subject. Every single one of the system’s 4000 teachers was informed during the last school year that they were “terminated” – and would have to wait for sometime this summer to know what would happen.

Even as late as two weeks before teachers were scheduled to report, not a one of them had been notified who would come back, where they would go, and what they would teach.

Obviously, it’s an attack.

Teachers don’t know whether they will have a job. The churning can mean less income and it can interfere with their possibility of gaining tenure – and without tenure, they can be fired at any moment, based on nothing other than the whim of a principal or school board bureaucrat.

For the students, it’s a disaster. The teachers, not knowing what they will teach, can’t use the summer to prepare for the new school year. The schools, “reconstituted” every year, start out in chaos.

Yes, we hear that Detroit schools are in worse shape than elsewhere. But several years ago, teachers in New Orleans and Washington D.C. were junked in exactly the same way.

It’s part of a much wider attack being launched on teachers today – an attack prepared for and funded by some of the most reactionary, right-wing forces in the country: the Broad Foundation, the Walton Foundation, and the Koch brothers’ Heritage Foundation.

Districts like Chicago, LA Unified and Baltimore County cut back on the number of teachers. Those who are left teach longer hours; class sizes get larger; classes are dropped; students get even less attention and lose any possibility for a real education.

All this is being done under the pretext that there is not enough money, that school systems are in deficit, and, above all, that the teachers cost too much.

Yes, school systems are in deficit – but it’s not the teachers who have drained money out of them. They do not get enormous pensions, they don’t even get very adequate pensions – those are reserved for the officials who head the school systems or the “consultants” the officials bring in.

If the pension funds require a lot of money today from school systems, it’s because for too many years, states and local boards didn’t put the necessary money into them. They had a bill, and they didn’t pay it.

So what did they do with the money? They didn’t build good new schools for the children of working people. They didn’t pay for adequate supplies and books. They didn’t put out the money to have smaller class sizes.

No, the money drained out of the schools went to bail out the banks; it went to bail out big corporations. Money that should have been directed from the federal government into inner city school systems, instead went to bail out the criminals who caused the sub-prime crisis, and are today creating the basis of a new sub-prime crisis in car loans.

Money that should have gone from the states to big-city and small-town school systems, instead was handed over to some of the wealthiest people in the world, the owners of big U.S. corporations and banks.

The ongoing vicious attack on teachers that fills the airwaves, TV channels and printed press is today aimed at drumming up support for the idea that the teachers are the cause of the mess in the schools.

No, the teachers are not. They are the ones who could bring some sanity back into the schools – if there were enough of them, if they had the supplies and the books and the libraries they need.

Let the reactionaries get their dirty, greedy, grasping hands off the schools. Hire more teachers. Reduce class sizes. Provide the teachers with the books and resources to teach. Let the children of working people have a chance for an education!