Saturday, March 05, 2005

I Want to Finish My Thought From the Entry Below -

For the last few years here in Alaska, the right wing of the Republican Party has had a death grip on our legislature, as it does in many other places these days, as you may have noticed. This has meant cuts, cuts, cuts, and of course no new taxes. No taxes. We do not pay state taxes. We leave that up to the oil companies. That's why we are pushing for ANWAR drilling. There has been a lot of talk about some sort of fiscal plan to stave off coming disaster, but nothing. Of course income taxes are off the table. As our governor has said, "Why would we want to punish our most productive citizens?" So we punish the least powerful. In the great conservative tradition we cut public spending, on all kids of social issues including schools and education. Our schools have been having to cut, cut, cut. Then, last year, it happened. The parents across the state, mostly in the most populated areas, began to organize and to let the legislature know that enough was enough. Here in Juneau the organization leading the drive was formed, ironically, by a charter school mom. Other organizations were formed in other parts of the state. The organizations networked with each other and lobbied the legislature, in an election year, and won $80 million in new money for education. That is the good news. The bad news is, it just stopped the bleeding. It just kept schools from all over the state from loosing ground. It did not make up for years of loses. (I spite of this one republican legislator remarked, " We fixed the problem last year.") This year they are working hard again, so far with not as much success, but the point is, these mostly middle class parents got involved in the process and made a difference. This same difference can be made for all students at the local level by keeping the middle class kids in public school classrooms, and by having those parents spend their energies on educating all kids instead of on things like raising funds for "extras" for charter schools and special classes that serve only a small group of kids. I believe it is not too late yet but I am troubled by the push from the corporate side, and the right, for more special programs for more kids that are all aimed at privatizing public education. It feels like a tidal wave right now.

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