Saturday, February 22, 2014

Budget Cuts

One of my favorite individuals to follow is Frosty Troy.  I absolutely love him.  His newspaper, the Oklahoma Observer, (now being edited by Arnold Hamilton) is citizen journalism at its best.  The banner across the top of the newspaper reads, "To comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable".  Frosty is a true champion for public education.  Frosty never met a budget cut he liked especially cuts to public education and other public services.  He frequently criticizes the Oklahoma legislators for their insolence displayed towards public education and it's little list victims.  A drum he often beats, in order to expose the best of white collar crimes, is to bring attention to our biggest corporate buddies in Oklahoma who benefit repeatedly from gigantic tax cuts that clearly rob precious revenue from public schools.   Frosty calls it "corporate welfare".   It's no secret that schools continually are the losers.  According to CCOSA, schools have lost $200 million in the last five years.  
What do schools do?  They cram 34 kids in a 3rd grade classroom (or others).  They go without technology.  They go without full time librarians.  In the case of my school now, they have no counselor.  I do it along with my high school principal duties.  I am also the special ed director.  Oh, and I teach a service learning class.  Frosty says, "Schools aren't critically underfunded - they're chronically underfunded."  Public schools are competing with a group of neo-conservatives who are all but determined to privatize education. For example, Representative Jason Nelson has authored a Bill to establish an Education Savings Account which would allow parents to take children to a school of choice AND the per pupil funding that is attached to that child.  Nelson's Bill targets low income families saying it is "anti-poverty legislation."  It gets better.  The "per pupil funding" would be placed into an account managed by the State Treasurer.  Services (virtual charter schools), curriculum, tutoring, and "therapies", would be bought with a debit card, no less!!  In the event money is left over, it can be rolled over to a college savings plan.  If it is not used it goes back to the state.  Why not the original school?  Hmmm...Nelson says his Bill will help kids who are trapped in poverty.  How much research has Nelson done on poverty and its affects?  I just watched Arun Gandhi who is Gandhi's grandson.  Arun is starting a new school in India for the poorest of the poor in honor of his deceased wife.  His focus, however, is not only on the child but the family, too.  His plan is to educate the parents - teach them to read and write, as well as, the child.  Why?  Because the child, once educated, does not want to return to the family STILL IN POVERTY!  As a result, the child, Arun believes, will distance himself from the family and not return.  Hello!!  It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that legislation like Nelson's is intended to benefit constituent(s) investors who, undoubtedly, will profit from the money spent in "their entrepreneurial utopia".  
In response to the original question, schools suffer from budget cuts.  The lost revenues are never recovered.  Where is the representation that schools need?  As educators, our vote counts.  Please support education with a vote or even better an email to your Senator or Representative.  

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