From Pennsylvania, this story:
Governor Tom Corbett cut corporate taxes by $1.2 billion. Then he cut nearly $1 billion dollars from the state’s education budget. Then he acted shocked when schools from Philadelphia to Pittsburg were forced to close.
Then a child died.
From the AFT: “We don’t know if a school nurse could have saved this young boy. But we do know every child deserves a full-time nurse in his or her school. We do know all parents deserve to know that their child will be safe and his or her most basic needs will be tended to at school. We do know that all Philadelphia children deserve better.”
The boy wasn’t the first child who died. Twelve-year-old Laporshia Massey died from asthma complications that started while she was at school. Could her death have been prevented there had been a school nurse on staff?
Of course, Governor Corbett responded by attacking the teachers’ unions – without mentioning the budget hole created by his corporate tax cuts.
Yep, another politician who wants our teachers to make “sacrifices.”
(But not the corporations. Somehow, they never ask the corporations to make “sacrifices.”)
But it’s not just Pennsylvania.
A friend of mine is an elementary school art teacher, whose classroom is out of supplies and whose budget is out of money. How do you teach elementary school art without construction paper and glue sticks?
A middle school student complains about seeing her teachers outside of school. “It’s really embarrassing when you run into your teacher in a restaurant,” she says. “But it’s even more embarrassing when your teacher is your server at the restaurant. Why can’t we pay teachers enough that they don’t need a second job to survive?”
All across the country we hear stories of states being forced “make the hard choices” when it comes to budgets. They try to make us believe that they have no other choice than to cut programs to keep their budgets balanced. They never mention the possibility of restoring revenues that were given away as tax cuts.
A strong public education is vital to our communities. A strong education is the foundation of the American Dream. Public schools provide the tools necessary to lift people up, to find good high paying work, and to get that little house with the white picket fence. A strong public education system — which I believe should include higher education — is the key to countering America’s poverty problems, too.
But budget cuts have forced some schools to close completely, leaving children and their parents scrambling. Teacher layoffs have led to larger class sizes, and less time to help students. Budget cuts are forcing teachers and parents to supply schools with basic necessities like paper, pens, chalk, and paper towels out of their own pockets.
Cuts to school lunch programs mean that too many teachers are reaching into their own pockets to buy lunch for students who would otherwise go hungry.
Yet corporations keep their tax cuts.
The American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association are on the front lines of this fight to protect and preserve our public education system. AFT is running a new campaign entitled “reclaim the promise” that challenges people to stand up for public education.
Stand up and fight to ensure that children in all communities get access to a high quality education.
Stand up and say “NO” to the government leaders who would rather cut funding to schools than ask businesses to pay their taxes.
Stand up and say: “NO MORE hungry children.”
And “NO MORE children dead, without a school nurse around.”
(Special Hat-Tip to my friends Kevin Mahoney and Sean Kitchen at Raging Chicken Press for always keeping the light shining on the atrocity of Governor Corbett’s attack on public schools and public workers.)