You may think the education of city kids doesn’t affect you, or that “they” don’t deserve a good education. You may believe that because your children are no longer of school age or because you choose private schools, you “shouldn’t have to pay taxes for public schools.” People I know have expressed these beliefs to me personally, so I know they’re being said.
Do you shop at a grocery store? Put gas in your car? See a doctor? Dine at restaurants? Order goods from Amazon? Visit a park? If you can answer “yes” to any of these questions, then you want educated people to populate an educated workforce. Since most children attend public school, it should follow that public education matters for the greater good.
Author John Green had it right. The full body of the quote is this:
Public education does not exist for the benefit of students or the benefit of their parents. It exists for the benefit of the social order.
We have discovered as a species that it is useful to have an educated population. You do not need to be a student or have a child who is a student to benefit from public education. Every second of every day of your life, you benefit from public education.
So let me explain why I like to pay taxes for schools, even though I don’t personally have a kid in school: It’s because I don’t like living in a country with a bunch of stupid people.
Five seats on the Milwaukee Public Schools Board of Directors are up for grabs in Tuesday’s election. Candidates who lean toward support for school privatization and an increase in charter schools are receiving campaign funds from outside the city, from groups favoring charter schools and school choice. Why do you suppose funds are being made on their behalf? Hmmm. Do you think maybe there’s money to be made?
You might not know this, but taxpayer money in our city goes to fund students attending private schools, including religious schools, so that whole separation of church and state thing, ya know, whatever. . . Public funds also get diverted to charter schools, which while public, don’t exactly play under the same rules that public schools do. Public schools are responsible for teaching every single student that comes through its doors; as public schools, charters are also supposed to, but not all can or do. Do you find it curious that the percentage of special education students in district schools is upward of 20% when the percentage of US citizens with disabilities as a whole is less than that? Why do you suppose that is?
Walk into any charter or voucher school and you’ll find a shockingly low number of students with significant intellectual disabilities, autism, orthopedic impairments, visual impairments, hearing impairments, or emotional-behavior disabilities. Like none. Maybe one. Public schools don’t get to pick. Students with profound disabilities (envision what in the old days was known as “residential care” and now envision those students rolling off their buses into public schools every morning), heck, students with even mild-moderate disabilities, get sent back to the public schools. Look at enrollment numbers between first day of school and shortly after the counts for state funding are done in mid-September for proof. Once the money is secure, city schools see a spike in enrollment as kids return to the district from other types of schools.
Special educators and related services personnel like nurses who administer tube feedings, occupational therapists who assist with fine motor skills development or sensory integration, physical therapists, or orientation and mobility teachers AND the equipment/supplies needed for kids with disabilities don’t come cheap.
It is not a level playing field, no matter how the tales get spun. And now that they finally are required to report outcomes, those outcomes in parochial, private, or charters are not consistently, appreciably better. Some charters and vouchers are excellent and absolutely are “beating the odds” (as are some public schools), while others have maybe 3% of their students demonstrating proficiency in reading and math (as do some public schools). Poor achievement anywhere benefits no one everywhere, and if you’re any good at math, you can see that doing more with less results in a negative integer.
I’m not terribly linear here today, and Google can help you can easily locate better sources of data than me on school choice and charters, but the main idea is this: Our students deserve to be represented by a school board 100% in their corner.
If you live in my city, please vote Tuesday. Please vote for candidates who’ve demonstrated their commitment and support of our students and educators. Why would one even consider the office of Milwaukee Public Schools board director if you didn’t? (Wait, I know the an$wer to this one, and I bet you do too.) Spring elections in odd-numbered years tend to the least well-attended elections, so get to the polls! Need a ride?