She argues there’s another way to fight crime. “We ought to invest a lot more in our public schools. You know, feed the kids breakfast, lunch, and dinner; have after-school activities; keep the schools open until nine o’clock in the evenings and on weekends; invest in things like the Boys and Girls Club and the Park District—I mean, everything, basically, to dramatically ramp up the investments in our children.”
But even in Democrat-dominated Cook County, it’s hard to imagine that happening. “I was at an event last week, a fund-raising event, actually, where somebody said, ‘All my neighbors are Republicans—people who live on my block who I like, who wouldn’t support the idea you were just promulgating,’” Preckwinkle recalled. “And he said the people on his block he knew would rather pay to keep somebody incarcerated than to support music lessons or soccer team memberships or basketball team uniforms for kids in poor neighborhoods. “We’ve got in this country such distorted values. In the last 30 or 40 years we’ve invested all this money in our prison system, and our schools are starving for money.””
County board prez: Why are we closing schools and packing the jail? | Bleader
that first paragraph up there—the stuff about investing in after school activities and keeping the schools open until 9pm, etc. —I’m thinking about that in context to of the Emergency Managers in Michigan. And how if they were *really* invested in fixing economic problems rather than privatization, they’d be figuring out ways to do *exactly* what she is suggesting. Making the schools an essential part of the community means that youth don’t drop out and people don’t transfer to other districts. it means that people *move into* that district.
another example, what would happen if community groups were trained and paid to go to houses in the community and clean up lead? not only would it provide jobs, but when there’s a proven correlation between lead levels and low achievment in school—what effect would it have on student’s test schools and ability to focus and stay in school if their bodies aren’t being poisoned? there are seriously NO foundation grants for this sort of thing? why aren’t city mayors, councils, EMs, etc working their asses off to find foundation grants and corporate investment in cleaning up lead so that public schools can stay open—instead of building a whole new building to stick a charter school in?
“people on his block he knew would rather pay to keep somebody incarcerated than to support music lessons or soccer team memberships or basketball team uniforms for kids in poor neighborhoods.”
Next time I hear that we should fight racism with cool, calm logic, I will be thinking about this.
I hate how Tumblr handles quote posts and apologize for not being able to cut this, but: let’s also be really clear about how deep this crap goes: the funding for education that politicians are constantly arguing over isn’t even the fighting for music lessons or soccer team memberships or anything else that people who can pay for that stuff for their own kids out of pocket think is “unnecessary” (and ohhhh, what a privilege it is to be able to think that): most schools can’t even get the funding to keep their facilities in one piece and provide enough books and teachers to actually teach what we consider basic skills.
My mom (now retired) taught for her entire professional career at the community college level, not the K-12 level, but a big part of what she did was teach the classes that ultimately catch the people who got shunted through K-12 without actually ever being taught to read. (A note: the fact that students routinely get shunted through K-12 without ever being taught to read is a systemic failure. First person to tell me it’s because their teachers are lazy gets punched in the mouth.) My mom’s classes routinely topped 35 students. How much individual attention do you think one of 35 students actually receives? If the class meets twice a week for fifteen weeks for 75 minutes, that’s a total of 64.3 minutes per student for the entire semester, assuming that the teacher doesn’t have to test (diagnostic or evaluative) or lecture AT ALL. Which is simply not possible. Assuming 30 minutes of non-one-on-one time per class meeting (that is probably unrealistically low), that drops to 38.6 minutes per student. Over the course of the whole term. And teachers are trying to make up for that inordinately tiny amount of per student outside of class: my whole childhood, my mom routinely got up at four and went to bed at eleven to have time to write lesson plans and mark papers while my sister and I were sleeping. And my family had the luxury of having two parental caregivers and (until my dad got laid off) access to two salaries.
Compare to this: the freshman writing program at Harvard University. I selected a course at random from the Expos 10 series, which appears to be the basic writing course for students who don’t test out of it, and checked the course catalog and academic calendar. These courses meet for an hour, twice a week, for a semester (15 weeks), and are limited to 10 students per section. That works out to 180 minutes per student, again, assuming no testing or lecturing, and drops to 90 minutes per student if we assume 30 minutes of non-one-on-one time per class meeting. So, Harvard students, who presumably already do know how to read, who presumably have not already been completely failed by K-12 public education, have the potential for something close to three times as much one-on-one instruction as the kids who have.
I also want to mention this: in my first post-university job, essentially what I did was write Perl scripts to do menial, repetitive tasks that I would otherwise have to do by hand. I really, genuinely could have been replaced by a shell script (and was working on doing so). I worked for a not-for-profit, and friends with similar entry-level jobs in the for-profit world made about a third again as much as I did.
In my first year out of college—this was in 2005—in my incredibly pointless job that required almost no specialized skills or talents whatsoever (Perl programming is not actually hard), I had better health benefits than, better retirement matching than, and made the same amount in hard, monetary pay as did my mother, who had been teaching basic reading, critical thinking, and composition skills (in a full-time, tenured post) at a community college for forty years.
Just a little frame of reference, for anyone who gets up in arms about the teachers’ unions fighting over pay and benefits.