Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The death of public education

Education, Health, Housing, Jobs on Infrastructure, and so much more
are profoundly, perhaps terminally affected by our enormous military
budget, which is not only ineffective but killing our GI's and countless,
innocent civilians. Appended are two short, slightly vintage articles on
the subject, pre-Afghanistan. It's obviously much worse, now.

Add to this a totally biased taxation favoring the super wealthy and a host
of other areas, demonstrate how the world's richest country is beggaring
its citizens, especially the young.

The death of public education
Lack of money is killing our schools

By Derrick Z. Jackson
The Boston Globe: April 6, 2010

It is no secret that American education is at a great divide, unrivaled in
most of the developed world. The United States spends $9,800 per public
primary and secondary education student, which is technically high by global

But meanwhile, children of the wealthy are being trained at private schools
at more than triple the expenditures. In the Boston area, day school tuition
rates are closing in on $35,000.

Our investment in public school teachers is paltry for the wealthiest
country in the world. According to the National Center for Education
Statistics, the United States ranks in some measures behind England, Italy,
Japan, Scotland and way behind Germany in starting teacher pay. The average
expenditure on college students in the United States amounts to $24,400 per
college student, two and a half times more than the $9,800 per-pupil
spending in the public schools.

Beneath the numbers is the resegregation of children on the basis of class,
race and immigration status. Prison spending soared so much, that by 2007,
five states spent as much or more on corrections than on higher education,
according to the Pew Center on the States.

In monetary terms, we have given up on millions of children. "I don't think
necessarily that public education is dead, but certain parts of it are
dying,'' said Linda Darling-Hammond, a Stanford University professor who
headed President Barack Obama's education transition team. "The programs of
the 1960s and 1970s that helped make education more equitable were mostly
eliminated in the 1980s and never put back.

"We're disinvesting in a significant way. With the huge decline in America
of manual labor jobs that are being off-shored or digitalized, the vast
majority of jobs are knowledge based. If we do not invest that way, we
really can't survive as a nation. To deeply underfund public education as we
are doing does not make any sense.''

Author of the 2009 book, "The Flat World and Education,'' Darling-Hammond
says neither poverty, nor the diverse nature of the American population are
excuses not to educate everyone. Several countries were behind the United
States decades ago in education and now have passed us.

She cites the example of Korea, which "in the space of one generation . . .
moved from a nation that educated less than a quarter of its citizens
through high school to one that now ranks third in college-educated

She noted how Singapore, where 80 percent of families live in public
housing, was tops in the world in fourth-grade and eighth-grade math
assessments in 2003. "When children leave the tiny, spare apartments they
occupy in high-rises throughout the city,'' she wrote of Singapore, "they
arrive at colorful, airy school buildings where student artwork, papers,
projects, and awards are displayed throughout, libraries and classrooms are
well-stocked, instructional technology is plentiful, and teachers are well

It is enough to make one consider whether America needs to start from
scratch. Whatever we are doing, it is not working. For instance,
Darling-Hammond said Obama has an education platform that could rival the
last serious education president, whom she considers to be Lyndon Johnson,
but "to date has not squarely embraced the idea of equity. He did a great
job coming out of the box on higher education, but inequity in elementary
and secondary education is continuing to widen.''

Johnson once said you cannot "take a person who for years has been hobbled
by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race and
then say, 'You are free to compete with all the others.' '' Today millions
of American children once again need our help to get to the starting line.

Derrick Z. Jackson can be reached at

© Copyright 2010 Globe Newspaper Company.


FOCUS | Pentagon Wants $450 Billion Increase Over Next Five Years

By Josh Rogin,
Congressional Quarterly: October 11, 2008

"Pentagon officials have prepared a new estimate for defense spending that
is $450 billion more over the next five years than previously announced
figures. The new estimate, which the Pentagon plans to release shortly
before President Bush leaves office, would serve as a marker for the new
president and is meant to place pressure on him to either drastically
increase the size of the defense budget or defend any reluctance to do so,
according to several former senior budget officials who are close to the


Pentagon budget hits new record in spending bill

Associated Press: September 24, 2008

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Pentagon budget would rise to a new record while
U.S. automakers and victims of hurricanes and floods would receive
billions of dollars in a $630 billion-plus omnibus spending bill
rushing toward the House floor Wednesday.

The year-end budget measure also would lift a quarter-century ban on
drilling for oil off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and is flying
under the political radar compared with a hugely controversial White
House plan to bail out Wall Street.

The bill is fueled by a need to keep the government running past the
Oct. 1 start of the 2009 budget year. Until now, Democrats had mostly
punted on the need to pass the 12 annual spending bills funding agency
operating budgets, but the 357-page measure released late Tuesday _
along with 752 pages of accompanying explanations and tables of
previously secret earmarks by lawmakers _ would close out about 60
percent of the budget work Congress must pass each year.

That includes $488 billion for the Pentagon, $40 billion for Homeland
Security Department programs and $73 billion for veterans programs and
military base construction projects.

The bill would settle dozens of battles, big and small, between
Democrats controlling Congress and the lame-duck Bush administration
and its allies on Capitol Hill.

The most significant decision _ and a big win for Republicans in this
politically charged election season _ came as Democrats capitulated on
the question of lifting the offshore drilling ban. And the Bush
administration succeeded in repelling efforts by Democrats to extend
unemployment insurance, increase food stamp payments and help states
deal with shortfalls in their Medicaid budgets.

Democratic leaders promised to bundle such items, along with billions
for infrastructure projects, in a more than $50 billion measure they
hope to advance later this week. It's expected to stall in the Senate.

Democrats won additional funding for heating subsidies for the poor
and successfully pressed the White House for a more generous aid
package for disaster-ravaged states like Texas and Iowa. A shortfall
in Pell college aid grants would be averted, as would problems in the
Women, Infants and Children program delivering healthy foods to the

U.S. automakers would receive up to $25 billion in low-interest loans
to help them develop technologies and retool factories to meet new
standards for cleaner, more fuel efficient cars.

The bill would also eliminate the need for a much-dreaded,
postelection lame-duck session to deal with unfinished work. The
Senate is expected to send the bill to President Bush, who is expected
to sign it.

The secretive deliberations _ and the intense spotlight cast on the
separate Wall Street bailout _ seemed to ensure that the spending
measure would have a low profile. But that also meant Democrats will
have to battle to remind voters of the gains made in funding for
popular homeland security and veterans health programs.

(Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This
material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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