Friday, July 31, 2015
The Reverse New Deal: Blaming teachers instead of Wall Street fraud; laying off teachers to appease greed
Above: New Deal policymakers facilitated the employment of jobless teachers--by the tens of thousands--in programs like the Federal Emergency Relief Administration, the Civilian Conservation Corps, and the Works Progress Administration. These teachers taught many types of classes, for example: music, arts & crafts, social studies, math, airplane mechanics, trades, workplace safety, and more. They also helped the blind, the disabled, adults who couldn't read or write, and they even gave citizenship classes to immigrants. The photo above shows a WPA art class for visually impaired children in Salem, Oregon, 1941. Photo courtesy of the FDR Presidential Library and Museum.
Wall Street and super-wealthy Americans have been getting away with a lot of civil & criminal wrongdoing these past many years - insider trading, mortgage & securities fraud, money laundering for drug cartels, illegal tax evasion, cooking the books, conspiring to manipulate the world's currency & interest rates, illegally foreclosing on the homes of American soldiers in combat zones, and so on.
But here's the funny thing ("funny" as in "sick"): Instead of holding Wall Street accountable, many Americans have pointed their fingers at the unemployed, the homeless, and public school teachers, and said, "You are causing our economic problems!" Millions of Americans have been duped by right-wing politicians, think tanks, billionaires, radio show hosts, and media outlets, into believing that our economic problems stem not from the monthly and multi-billion dollar frauds emanating from Wall Street, but from public school teachers making $53,000 per year and getting their summers off (sometimes). And because of this, we get absurd situations where, on the one hand, the richest Americans keep adding hundreds of billions of dollars to their already-bloated wealth while, on the other hand, the richest Americans are calling for teachers to be laid off to solve our various economic & budget problems (see, e.g., "Hedge Fund Economists Want Puerto Rico to Lay Off Teachers to Fix Debt Crisis," Time, July 28, 2015).
In Kansas, a toxic mixture of corporate greed, tax breaks for the wealthy, and right-wing politics have made the state a living hell for teachers; so much so that one school superintendent said, "I find it increasingly difficult to convince young people that education is a profession worth considering, and I have some veterans who think about leaving. In the next three years I think we’ll have maybe the worst teacher shortage in the country -- I think most of that is self-inflicted." Another superintendent said, "Teachers are working many more hours, much harder. They’re doing it on their own and don’t have the support we should be giving them. [They face] constant bashing from the governor and legislature, [who] in my opinion are trying to privatize education and just destroy it" ("Kansas Underfunded Education And Cut Tenure. Now It Can't Find Enough Teachers To Fill Classrooms," Huffington Post, July 31, 2015).
Welcome to the Reverse New Deal: Blaming teachers instead of Wall Street fraud; laying off teachers to appease greed.