Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Reverse New Deal: Shut Down Schools and Send Teachers to the Unemployment Line

(WPA workers building a school in Cecil County, Maryland, in March of 1937. Image courtesy of the University of Maryland College Park Archives.) 

During the Great Depression, New Deal work & construction programs built schools and hired unemployed teachers to give free classes (on various topics) to low-income Americans. The WPA built 5,908 new schools, and repaired or improved thousands more.

   (A WPA art class for children, at the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, Maryland. Image courtesy of the University of Maryland College Park Archives.)

Today, America seems to be on a mission to send as many teachers to the unemployment line as possible. The Chicago public school system is purging itself of hundreds of teachers (and other staff). And, in May of this year, Michigan shut down an entire school district, laid off every teacher, and made no immediate provision to allow students to finish the school year (see video below). Indeed, mass teacher layoffs have occurred all across the country. The big banks got bailed out, after helping to cause the Great Recession with all manner of fraud and gambling, while teachers are given pink slips to "balance the budget."

(Michigan shut down an entire school district and laid off every teacher. Original YouTube link:

The Chicago Public School System is also shutting down 55 schools.....not to rebuild them, but to close a $1 billion deficit. The American Society of Civil Engineers recently gave America's school system a letter grade of "D", noting "Public school enrollment is projected to gradually increase through 2019, yet state and local school construction funding continues to decline."

Meanwhile, it has been estimated that over $3 trillion in government revenue has been lost to tax evasion since 2001.

Welcome to the Reverse New Deal, where teachers, schools, and children are abandoned so that income inequality can flourish.

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