There are forces at work that are so destructive they can shatter the hopes and dreams of our citizens and splinter our communities. Our communities serve the needs of citizens via good schools, good medical facilities, good policing, good and great services in almost every area. However, there are forces of greed and power that have come back to haunt us from the Industrial Age and The Age of Robber Barons when individuals – responsible to no one – ground fellow human beings into dust. Their control of America became a license to rape, rip, and run.
“I regard this contest as one to determine who shall rule this free country—the people through their governmental agents, or a few ruthless and domineering men whose wealth makes them peculiarly formidable because they hide behind the breastworks of corporate organization.”
—Theodore Roosevelt (1907)
The cycle is repeating. We see it fracturing our own community as school and community college funding has been systematically cut off. The facts are clear. Our really outstanding schools have been driven into deep financial trouble. These problems are not caused by bad education or bad anything the schools have done. Certainly, the schools need and will always need to keep working to evolve and get better, but that is not why they are in trouble. The majority of parents enroll their children in district schools that have the wide range of expertise, services, and programs they need. If you are a parent of a child in school, you should be outraged and fighting like a wounded mother bear for your child’s school and education future. Our community schools suffer because a political agenda – an ideology – is attempting to starve and destroy them.
The reality is that the forces that control how our tax dollars are distributed have attacked and wounded our community schools. At this time, we cannot expect those who have coordinated these attacks on America’s future to adequately fund public schools. If we are to save our schools and our free society, our Prescott community must commit to adequate funding and insist on quality education for our children. That requires that We The People dig deeper into our pockets and pass the upcoming bond issue and override. If we do not do this, our community will never recover. Area schools will not survive. Our children will be irreparably damaged. We already see the impact of funding cuts and school closures as dollars and students have been siphoned away from public education and the District is being forced to close schools.
What hurts communities the most is the spawned divisiveness that has grouped people around planted lies and destructive ideologies. In our past, people, regardless of religion, political beliefs, or limited understanding, worked together to build local government and collectively provide the services the community needs. There were always disagreements, but they were resolved. There were always fringe individuals and groups that screamed “No New Taxes,” but as demands for more and better services increase and more people are served, every reasonable person knows that these services are necessary and really a great deal.
The major recession/depression we are suffering though was brought on by the greed and avarice of a few. Shades of the world order according to Rockefeller and the Robber Barons. A great majority of Americans lost economic and social position. Families and children suffer. They clutch at what they hope is some tattered semblance of the American Dream. The communities feel the dead hand of those who are fighting to take over the State and the Nation. Fear is cloaked in hate. Their neighbors are the bad guys. Teachers are at fault. The community leaders are the enemies. The other political party is to blame. Giving women rights is wrong. Associations that oppose the billionaire class have to be destroyed. Scared and confused people group together and refuse to listen to the opinions of others or even to allow a non-member to address their group. We are experiencing this splintering today and it is keeping us divided.
The attacks on public schools and educated people are increasing in force. An inculcated belief that public education must be killed because it cannot be fixed has become a common mantra. Other schools were formed – partial schools, charter schools – a few developed exemplary programs. All took funds away from the district schools. Hundreds of millions of dollars remain unaccounted for and the entire public education system is weakened and severely damaged. A large percentage of this money went to duplicate facilities and services the public is already providing. Rather than merge new and effective programs into the existing system, as was the original plan, the alternative schools are encouraged to define the district public schools as wrong.
Corporate raiders use the Press to convince American parents that the American education system has failed, in spite of massive evidence to the contrary. They base this presumed failure on skewed test scores. They ignore what schools actually do. As they spin these lies continually, people without crap detectors begin to believe them. Those who have taken power use it to bypass or infiltrate elected school boards, privatize schools, and open new schools without public accountability so they can steal money that taxpayers think goes for kids. They use their power to take over elected bodies and financially attack and starve excellent public schools and community programs – kill them – and steal the tax dollars. They use ill-gained political power to allow school operators to build Real Estate empires while supporting Legislators who stop calls for accountability. They call this privatization.
Part of the strategy of misdirection was to denigrate, defame, and discount teachers and professional educators; to blame them for the supposed failure of our schools. If teachers would only produce more widgets, faster, at a lower wage, efficiency and profit margins would increase. But children are not products being brought to market. The answer to public education’s problems is not privatization and the diversion of public resources to private pockets. These ideologies and acts have devastating effects on every community in America. In our hearts, we know these are lies, but we have let the lies go unchallenged.
Negative and destructive energy can only last so long before people begin to see through to reality. That is happening now in many communities. People have been encouraged to ignore the warnings and information about the demise of public education offered by their superintendents and elected boards, teachers, and community leaders. People begin to seek answers and the truth. Where so many partial school promoters sold parents tales of woe and incompetence, the truth has emerged: They lie. Community members who know little about their community education programs begin to attend meetings and ask questions. In our community, this is taking place now. The damage funding cuts have done to proven and effective programs, to our children, to the longevity of the teaching staff, and to the maintenance of our facilities, is real and unacceptable.
The State has cut back the funds to support public education programs. There is no evidence that the State taxes we pay for education will be returned to our communities. Our public schools and community college are severely damaged and cannot deliver comprehensive services without more community support.
This is the time when local control has real meaning. A time when responsible citizens dig deeper into their pockets to support the education of our community’s children. Our schools need our help. If we each shoulder a bit of the burden, we will heal our community and ensure a bright future for children and all of us.
“When you wage war on the public schools, you’re attacking the mortar that holds the community together. You’re not a conservative, you’re a vandal.”