Vote for Our Schools and Our Kids!
Tuesday, November 4th is Election Day
Struggling to make sense of what’s going on in Philadelphia’s public schools? Our local schools have been aggressively underfunded and our children are being set up to fail. Statewide spending on public education was cut by more than a billion dollars. As a result, more than 20,000 school personnel lost their jobs. Philadelphia has been hit especially hard, with more than 5,000 people getting pink slips. At the same time, both academic and extracurricular programs have been cut.
So what is happening? Is it incompetence? Is it indifference? Or something else entirely?
I want to share three very important articles about public education that have recently appeared in national publications.
The first, entitled “The Plot Against Public Education” by Bob Herbert in Politico, argues that wealthy supporters of school “reform” have an alternative motivation for getting involved in public education. They see that billions of dollars are spent annually on public schools and want a slice of the pie. They push for privatization of our schools so they can be run by for-profit companies. Here’s an excerpt from the article by Bob Herbert:
“For [many] school reformers, however, a huge financial return has been the primary motivation...Even in the most trying economic times, hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars, earmarked for the education of children from kindergarten through the twelfth grade, are appropriated each year. For corporate types, especially for private equity and venture capital firms, that kind of money can prove irresistible….”
You can read the full article that describes the plot by clicking on this link: “The Plot Against Public Education.” But how does this plot work in the real world?
Philadelphia journalist Dan Denvir spells it out in his article for The Nation called “How to Destroy A Public School System.” He writes about how the Philadelphia public school system has been set up to fail by state policies and massive cuts in funding. That opens up the opportunity for education profiteers to claim they can do better and privatize the system. Here’s an excerpt from the Denvir article:
“The basic structure of school financing in Philadelphia is rigged to benefit these privately managed companies. Public-school money follows students when they move to charter schools, but the public schools’ costs do not fall by the same amount. For example, if 100 students leave a district-run school at a cost of $8,596 per head (the district’s per-pupil expenditure minus certain administrative costs), that school’s cost for paying teachers, staff and building expenses doesn’t actually decline by that amount. It has been estimated that partly because of these costs, each student who enrolls in a charter school costs the district as much as $7,000… It’s what scholars have bluntly called an apartheid system: wealthy districts spend more on wealthy students, and poor districts struggle to spend less on the poor students who need the most.”
Got it so far? Identify public schools as a way to make profits and then starve urban education through deliberately bad public policy. You can read the full Dan Denvir article here: “How to Destroy a Public School System.”
But who are The Crooks who benefit from all of this? They are so-called ‘Venture Capitalists” and other Wall Street types who see billions of dollars to be made in our struggling schools. Check out another article in The Nation, entitled “Venture Capitalists Are Poised to 'Disrupt' Everything About the Education Market”:
Next year, the market size of K-12 education is projected to be $788.7 billion. And currently, much of that money is spent in the public sector. “It’s really the last honeypot for Wall Street,” says Donald Cohen, the executive director of In the Public Interest, a think tank that tracks the privatization of roads, prisons, schools and other parts of the economy…Eric Hippeau, a partner with Lerer Ventures, the venture capital firm behind viral entertainment company BuzzFeed and several education start-ups, has argued, despite the opposition of “unions, public school bureaucracies, and parents,” the “education market is ripe for disruption.”
These people see the money being spent on public education and want a piece of it. So they support policies that starve traditional public schools and use that as an excuse for for-profit companies to take over. You can read the full article at this link:” Venture Capitalists Are Poised to 'Disrupt' Everything About the Education Market.”
Shifting our public education system into one of private profit isn’t a foregone conclusion. We can fight back against the idea that our public education system should be run for the benefit of a wealthy few. Our education system is meant to be for everyone, not just a select group who see opportunities to make a buck. That’s the wrong mentality for public education in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania. We simply cannot allow our education system to fall into the hands of the extremely wealthy who see it as just another opportunity for profit.
Together, we can fight back to make sure that all of our students have the resources they need to succeed. We must protect our children’s education by making sure that these profiteers who only care about the cash don’t wind up running our schools.
Remember to vote on Tuesday, November 4th. Our children’s futures depend on it.
State Senator Vincent Hughes
Learn more about the issues and provide your feedback on my website at senatorhughes.com as well as on Facebook and Twitter (@SenatorHughes).
Offices of State
Senator Vincent Hughes