Politics and Public Education

helen gym

It seems that public education is eliciting many opinions, especially from the mayoral candidates, about how to fund schools and what do to about the SRC. Sanity levels seem to be rising as most of the candidates favor eliminating the SRC (a good move). Replacing the SRC brings out varying positions, but that is a decision a mayor alone will not make. Funding the schools is an idea that the candidates seem to agree on – often saying that everything is on the table – everything except property taxes. Seems strange that on one hand they want to say ‘everything’ but on the other they already make qualifications about what is not permitted.  Guess it is just hard for a politician to talk about taxes.

Regarding the city council races, I want to reaffirm my support for Helen Gym – there are other viable candidates running and I hope to write more about that later. Helen Gym is singular in her advocacy for community, students, and public education. I hope that you will support and vote for her in the at large race. Her election would be a great start toward democratizing city politics.

I would like to make just a few random points about public education:

  • The SRC needs to be eliminated. It has failed miserably in its stated goal for funding public schools.
  • Fair Funding for All Public Schools is still a priority for the state. Both rural and urban schools have suffered long enough in a state that disregards the basic right of students to receive equitable funding for their education. Governor Wolf has made some interesting proposals to accomplish that and it is time that the Republican response of ‘no’ should be trashed.
  • Charter Schools and their unaccountable growth need to be stopped. The original concept that charters schools would serve as ‘laboratories’ where new concepts could be tried and then translated for public schools died a long time ago. Today charters serve as a drain on finances and spend so much time building their own little fiefdoms that they are nothing more than cutthroat competition for public education.
  • The argument that increased funding for public schools is not the answer is just plain wrong. It WILL take more money to improve public schools (fair funding is part of that solution). One only has to look at charters and see the increased funding they receive from multiple sources in order to construct new buildings, remodel old buildings, and provide copious amounts of books and other resources to know that more funding is vital for public education.
  • Support for teaching and learning that is based on principles of critical education theory are a necessary part of the revival of public education. I am referring to theorists such as Frieire, Giroux, and bell hooks to name only a few notable people. The business model, that is represented by the vast majority of charter schools is not the answer.
  • Support for teaching and learning implies support for teachers!!! It is time that teachers had a voice at this table of reform. Let’s eliminate the charlatans who pretend to tell us what education is and how it should be accomplished. Anthony Hardy Williams and his band of charter school financiers need to heed this call.
  • Stop planning the education of our children based on standardized test results. It is reassuring to see the Opt Out Movement gaining strength as parents become aware of the peril their children are place in by these tests.

I am hopeful for the state of public education. I am hopeful that sanity will be restored!!!

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