So There Is Money that Could Have Helped Schools

The secret is out.

Like a note confiscated by the teacher and read aloud to the class, there can no longer be any doubt about the message being sent.

With the passage of the bailout bill for Wall Street, everyone now knows that the government can come up with a gazillion dollars (I’m not a math teacher, but I believe that is the approximate sum) to address a national problem if it’s deemed serious enough.

Being a social studies teacher, I’ll give you a simple quiz to assess your comprehension of the Wall Street giveaway. This means either:

A) Before this bailout, we haven’t had any serious problems in America that would require a massive spending initiative.

B) Government had the capacity all along to address any of the major crises in America with the needed funds, but has refused to do so.

Gottcha! This one’s a trick question — the answer actually depends on who’s taking the test.

If you are taking this test as you travel from the Cayman Islands to Wall Street in a personal Lear jet, one answer is appropriate.

The same answer applies to the politician taking the quiz while being chauffeured between fundraising dinners and appointments with lobbyists.

The answer is very different if the test is taken from the Ninth Ward in New Orleans; on the Interstate 35-W Bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis; from a hospital bed at Walter Reed Army Medical Center; or in a classroom on Main Street.

The reality of the neglect of public schools in the United States is astonishing. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave the national school system infrastructure a “D” on its annual report card.

Overcrowded classrooms have cheated students from the individual attention they deserve. Teachers struggle to make ends meet, as the average increase in salaries nationally was 2.1 percent last year, while official inflation increased by more than 3.1 percent.

The solution to the problems in education, we have been told, is the same solution to everything else: “Let the free market rip.” Advocates for public schools have been lectured about improving education by introducing the business model. Privatize with charter schools and vouchers. Get rid of elected officials and bring in high-paid CEOs to run the schools.

Judging by the way corporate executives sabotaged their own system, I would rather see the student body president appointed to run the Department of Education.

With shrinking state budgets, school districts across the country, including Seattle, are asking their constituents to prepare for cuts in education spending.

The justification for starving schools because of diminishing funds may have slid by last month. Now, pleading poverty and other “dog ate my homework” kinds of excuses just won’t fly.

Total government spending (federal, state and local) on education in 2001 accounted for 4 percent of gross domestic product. The federal share of this spending, however, amounted to less than 8 percent of the total.

It’s clear that the federal government — Democrats and Republicans — have had other priorities.

In the world’s richest country, we now know there is no sum of money so big it cannot be raised if the problem is deemed important enough.

Our community says, “Money for Main Street Middle School, not for Wall Street!”

Jesse D. Hagopian is a middle-school teacher in the Seattle Public Schools. Read other articles by Jesse, or visit Jesse's website.

13 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Martha said on October 10th, 2008 at 8:38am #

    Excellent point.

  2. Samual Francisco said on October 10th, 2008 at 3:53pm #

    Wow, what a really bad and shallow article.

    First of all the money for the bailout does not exist. It is merely being created as unsecured credit, which is the same sleight of hand that got us in this mess. By increasing the money supply by these vast sums every dollar that exists is devalued. There are people out there who will tell you this is nonesense but don’t listen to them. That the dollar has risen abit against certain other currencies is irrelevant because it merely indicates that those currencies are losing value faster than the dollar is. Because the dollar has been deflated in value by creating 860 billion out of thin air as credit, plus all the other bailouts and more to come surely, this is really a fascist tax where tax is taken directly from your pocket by decreasing the value of every dollar in it. In essence it is a massive transfer of wealth from Main Street to Wall Street.

    As for education – are you kidding me. The US juvenile concentration camps in this country called schools educate nobody. John Dewey, the Rockefellers, Henry Ford and others wrote extensively when they were forming public education in the US. The system is not meant to educate but to promote dumbed down subservient factory workers who can withstand the tedium of low paid repetitive labor without revolting.

    Fix the education system so that it actually educates and then we can talk about pumping in money that doesn’t exist. You could start by teaching children and adults across the nation about the fraudulent and unconstitutional Federal Reserve system. You also might want to include some education about the real history of the United States including Operation Northwoods, Operation Paperclip, MK-Ultra, the Tuskeegee experiment, the real cause of the civil war (economics), the faked Gulf of Tonkin incident, the attack on the USS Liberty, and other criminal and terrorist actions by the US government. If this does not happen then throwing money at schools so that they can improve subservience screening and disseminate propaganda is just insane.

  3. Samual Francisco said on October 10th, 2008 at 3:59pm #

    Also,.. you won’t get anywhere if you keep believing false statistics and educate YOURSELF first. 3.2% inflation is a lie with the real numbers much closer to around 8%. You cannot educate others if you refuse to educate yourself.

  4. Brian Koontz said on October 10th, 2008 at 9:17pm #

    Samual Francisco raises some very good points – one fatal flaw of the left is a continuing fundamental misunderstanding of the “educational” system in the US (and many other countries). The primary functions of the system are social control and indoctrination, the secondary is education.

    The reason for this flaw and why it will likely continue is that the “leaders” of the left, the articulators, those with the time and paycheck to fine-tune their writing, those with the time and paycheck to do massive research, themselves almost invariably are tied to the “educational” system. Chomsky, Zinn, Finkelstein, Parenti, Churchill, and a slew of other leftists are, structurally at a minimum, pawns of the American state.

    The real leftists, those not tied to the state by means of such a monstrosity, are written off as “not serious academics”.

    Who pays Chomsky? Who pays Zinn? Just how far can these “leftists” go in displeasing their masters? Just so far, and no more. And thus our “leaders” are controlled and thus we are controlled.

    This control is intolerable to anyone who wishes to destroy the American state.

    Chomsky bemoans that so many promising students “fall through the cracks” of the educational system. Well, thankfully they do, or this society would be completely totalitarian. Not everyone is willing to sell their soul to the American state for research grants and a plush office.

  5. juandos said on October 11th, 2008 at 6:16am #

    Hmmm, well I’m with you on the bail-out part regarding the financial houses…

    They after all could’ve fought harder against the questionably legal CRA started by that loser Carter and reenforced by that abysmal swine Clinton…

    The idea of wasting more EXTORTED TAX DOLLARS on public schools, government financed madrassas has got to be one of the most ridiculous ideas going…

    Has the last sixty years of piss poor results coming out of the public school system not getting to anyone?

  6. bozhidar bob balkas said on October 11th, 2008 at 6:28am #

    brian koontz,
    ur statement that chomsky, parenti, zinn, churchll, et al go only so far, needs clarifications.
    as far as i know, writings of these people differ significantly from writings of politico-media people in US and elsewhere.
    to u, these leftists don’t go far enough.
    but how far shld they go to meet ur standard?

    samual is correct ab amer ‘education’. it had always been a powerful tool for nazification of america.
    and facts starting from “injun” question, and later 170 wars sam had waged, slaughters in americas, 2 atom bombs, aggression against korea, vietnam, iraq, afghanistan, pakistan, germany ’17 and ’43, slavery, lynching, etcetc., prove that ab 90% of amers have stances that r same or similar to what hitler thought/did.

  7. Myles Hoenig said on October 11th, 2008 at 6:58am #

    Thank the Democrats, along with the Republicans, for seeing Wall Street as a higher priority than public education.

  8. David said on October 12th, 2008 at 11:12am #

    Jeez, everybody. Lighten up.

    Really, the best we could have ever hoped to accomplish would be to avoid frying the planet with nukes or frying the planet with global warming. One for two isn’t so bad, is it?

    Sure, every so often a J. S. Bach or a Chandrasakar or a da Vinci pops up. But that’s no reason to believe that most humans are any more than they actually are, i.e., buckets of fear just hoping to get to their next meal without getting wacked.

  9. lichen said on October 12th, 2008 at 1:38pm #

    Yes, it is pitifull that several states still allow their schools to beat students, primarily boys, whenever they want to. What we need are the sort of ‘free schools’ I’ve read about several times, where there is no cirriculum, but children are allowed to use their innate desire to learn in order to take them wherever they want to; to read and explore and experiment as they wish to in a democratic, non-authoritarian environment. This can also be done outside of the construct of the free school, at home where parents, too, must give up the idea that their children need to be hit or controlled, and truly respect their feelings. But I highly support using taxes to benefit communities; I highly support public institutions made for the benefit of everyone.

    I, too, wish that someone like Howard Zinn would even just once bring up the fact that corporal punishment remains in so many American schools when going off on the subjet.

  10. Brian Koontz said on October 12th, 2008 at 6:11pm #

    In reply to bozhidar bob balkas:

    “brian koontz,
    ur statement that chomsky, parenti, zinn, churchll, et al go only so far, needs clarifications.
    as far as i know, writings of these people differ significantly from writings of politico-media people in US and elsewhere.
    to u, these leftists don’t go far enough.
    but how far shld they go to meet ur standard?”

    It’s the same principle as exists for journalists or for anyone else.

    Noone goes into academia unless they plan to undertake actions that do not get them expelled. So they already restrict their own behavior (subconsciously of course, usually). An academic position is one of privilege and power, and there always are sacrifices made to fit into that mold.

    Most of the academics who get expelled (such as both Finkelstein and Churchill) fall victim not to their own “radicalness”, but to changing elite climate – Churchill rose to academic power during the affirmative action/ethnic studies days of the 1990s, and fell victim to the changing elite climate in effect after 9/11.

    The same goes for Finkelstein – after 9/11 the Zionists became more aggressive, and were successful in pushing an increased intolerance of anti-Zionism. Thus the same Finkelstein which was acceptable before 9/11 became intolerable afterward.

    When they started their careers both Churchill and Finkelstein were accepted by academia, otherwise there would have been no career to be expelled *from*.

    It’s not about merely ideology, it’s about power. Anyone can have a voice as long as that voice isn’t heard. Churchill and Finkelstein have people who listen to them, and combined with the more restrictive elite climate of modern days they are not tolerated by the elite.

    In Churchill’s case, before 9/11 noone cared about a militant support of the indigenous. The indigenous were seen as powerless objects whose sole purpose was to feed the needs of the global elite. Churchill was an amusement to be laughed at. 9/11 scared the elite into believing that both the indigenous and the “indigenous” were a threat, however small, that needed to be crushed.

    Finkelstein, on the other hand, existed in earlier days in a culture that supported Israel, but was not involved in intense conflicts in the Middle East. After 9/11 the elite culture shifted to a major focus on perpetual war in the Middle East, hence Israel became more important as both a real ally and a pretext for Middle East involvement, and Finkelstein became a thorn that was then removed.

    True radicals understand that American academia serves the purposes and interests of the American state, and any involvement within it’s confines supports it. However well intentioned, both Churchill and Finkelstein helped the American ruling class prior to the current elite climate, and only detracted from the American ruling class afterward.

    If you want to examine true radicals, look instead to those people that the ruling class imprisons, kills, harasses, tortures, or otherwise destroys. There are countless millions of them, almost none of them hold academic positions, and none of them hold academic positions for long.

    Churchill, Finkelstein, Chomsky, Zinn, and others spent long, long years in American academia. That speaks volumes.

  11. Hue Longer said on October 12th, 2008 at 10:09pm #


    I see where you’re going but don’t completely buy it…just because those standing around may be standing because Empire allows them to, doesn’t take away from the truth they share (Zinn was fired in 63 for not teaching black women to know their place..he has some integrity outside of smashing through selective morality in an easy reading guide through real history–the same history you’d want us to learn, no?). I think some people hear and turn others on to the works of these men…Zinn and Chomsky sell some books.

  12. bozhidar bob balkas said on October 13th, 2008 at 5:31am #

    let’s consider the notion that nazification of america is complete or soon to be completed.
    it took US plutocrats 2 cent’s to accomplish the feat.
    nazification of germany took just a decade.
    so, what was happening in germany ’33-45 to ashkenazim, socialists, communists, other protesters?
    and most, if not all, of the dissidents did not even use violence against the nazis.
    for me, to go far enough, i must use violence against people who have enserfed me.
    i say that because revolution may be one way for us to obtain our freedoms.
    will evolution obtain better governance. perhaps? but when? in centuries? ever?
    how about terrorism? possibly? revolution of a kind necessary to empower the unwashed? possibly.
    so, from this analyses, none of us is going far enough.
    however, i’v gone far enough, that US gov’t cld hurt me badly. thnx

  13. Brian Koontz said on October 13th, 2008 at 12:58pm #

    In reply to Hue Longer:

    “I see where you’re going but don’t completely buy it…just because those standing around may be standing because Empire allows them to, doesn’t take away from the truth they share (Zinn was fired in 63 for not teaching black women to know their place..he has some integrity outside of smashing through selective morality in an easy reading guide through real history–the same history you’d want us to learn, no?). I think some people hear and turn others on to the works of these men…Zinn and Chomsky sell some books.”

    Zinn and Chomsky are safe to read, since at worst the elite ignores them and the elite doesn’t even ignore Chomsky any more.

    Zinn isn’t presenting real history, he’s presenting history from a mixed human perspective, including the perspective of human victims.

    There’s no such thing as “real” history. To illustrate this, consider history from the perspective of a squirrel. The squirrel would lament the destruction of his habitat, lament that powerful creatures (humans) kill his kin without care. Is the squirrel’s history real? Not if you consider Zinn’s history to be the pinnacle of reality, since it ignores squirrels and all other non-human animals.

    Humans know danger. Reading and promoting the ideas of people recently killed or tortured by the American elite can be dangerous, not reading Zinn or Chomsky.

    Integrity is relative. It’s easy to compare oneself to the American ruling class and say one has integrity. By that standard Zinn and Chomsky are steeped in integrity. It’s far more difficult to compare oneself to the highest pinnacle of honor, the greatest needs of reality, and say one has integrity.

    Humans can and do learn from Zinn and Chomsky, and Zinn and Chomsky help humans move from a worse Point A to a better Point B. But the question to really ask is what Point do we need to reach to save the world, and not just to save it but then improve it, to result in the greatest possible world, the greatest possible reality?

    Do you really think the ruling class would allow such a writing to become powerful?

    Zinn and Chomsky are *allowed* by the ruling class precisely because they *only* move humans to Point B.

    If the elite allow something that something by definition is either not radical or not powerful. Both Zinn and Chomsky are reasonably powerful, so that leaves only one logical conclusion.

    Humans are very intelligent. They know what the limits are. Aspiring academics know they cannot be another Finkelstein or Churchill. Readers aspiring to power know they cannot actively pursue the writings of those condemned by the state, or they will share in that fate.