Real reason for defeat of Initiative-42: Part two

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, January 27, 2016

America’s public school system is one of the greatest cooperative systems of democracy –in which everyone can participate—our nation has. American public schools and universities have been the great equalizer in educating millions of immigrants into the “melting pot” that is America. Our public schools, in which 87% of our nation’s children are enrolled, educated the most productive and ingenious generation in world history; a generation created the world’s largest economy and saved democracy in WWII. A vibrant society –with schools inclusive of everyone and held accountable by everyone—makes great individuals, not the other way around.
Only public schools are legally required to accept and retain all students, no matter their race, no matter their religion, no matter their educational attainment, social class, family income, special needs, or personal characteristics. Only public schools must guarantee that—within a legally enforceable range— the amount spent on each student will be equal from school to school within communities and across the state where those students reside. Our public school districts across the nation provide magnet schools for the arts, the sciences, and high schools for the academically gifted, such as the School for Math and Science and the School for the Arts in our own state. School boards in every school system, ranging from small towns to large cities, give a democratic voice to the taxpayers– parents, students, teachers— in the governance of their schools. Charter schools do not have this.
Why did the state legislature fight so hard against Initiative 42? Answer: The charter school industry, with its earning potential for those, (in which many studies cite as the most corrupt state government in the US.) who have the potential to make money from it. And they made sure that Initiative 42 on the ballot would be so confusing that voters who wanted it, nevertheless, nullified their votes by misreading and mis-checking the first part.
But the most misleading rhetoric by our state legislators is in assessing funding for public education. Has school funding has gone up nearly every year during the past 20 years? Yes. Of course, they ignore the increasing number of students and the decreasing value of the dollar during the past 20 years, hoping we will as well. The second most common mistake is to look only at “Per Pupil” funding. This measure is better than absolute dollars. And it still ignores the rising cost of living from year to year.

See next Wednesday’s Item for Part Three.

By Deborah Craig

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox