my comment on, “Oregon students, parents and teachers lobby on Capitol steps for stable education funding”

http://www.oregonlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2011/02/oregon_students_parents_and_te.html

First everyone who actually cares about the quality of knowledge they possess should admit that they might be wrong, ie they could reconsider their opinion on the basis of new information or context. That said there are at least two different discussions being had. One on functioning (or non-functioning) of the Oregon school system itself, and a second on the relative merits of cutting public expenditures while the country occupies two foreign countries, sends billions to autocratic regimes abroad, and gives tax breaks to large corporations etc.

In the first discussion it seems clear that average spending per student is more obfuscating than illuminating when in a system such as ours property taxes contribute the lion’s share because these resources are obviously unevenly distributed. So we have wealthy and pretty good public schools in the rich districts and shitty schools that can’t afford everything they need in the poor districts (and it’s illegal to send your kids to a school in a different district). So while I agree that just adding more spending won’t fix the problem, cutting spending will certainly hurt the poorest and most vulnerable most (in general). We can’t expect good results across the board without fundamentally restructuring how school funding works. (This is a good opportunity to look at those countries that spend less and achieve more and see what they are doing. Many tie funding to each student and allow free selection of schools by parents allowing bad schools to fail etc; a market solution with public funding so to speak.)

The second discussion touches on all the things that have successfully undermined effective democracy and led us to the point where even voting in a supposedly progressive democratic candidate for president results in moderate republican policies. There has been basically zero net job growth since the turn of the century, our highest government and corporate officials break the most serious criminal laws and go unprosecuted, and wealth is concentrating more rapidly in the wealthiest hands. Productivity goes up, wages go down (The jaws of death).

Here are some numbers:
http://sociology.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html

Here is some analysis of the rule of law:
http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2011/02/18/justice/index.html

 

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