If public schools are to realize their democratizing potential, progressive activists must organize and act on an agenda that counters the neo-liberal view of education that currently dominates. We want to believe that public schools serve us, the public, “We, the people.” We want to believe that schools strengthen our democracy, our ability to meaningfully participate in the decision-making processes that impact our communities and our lives.
Too easily neglected by foundations, corporations, individual donors and in discussions of public education: our nation's many small, rural schools -- some teetering on the edge of extinction. These schools often have great difficulty finding and retaining teachers. Low enrollments and lack of funding mean course offerings can be very limited, and yet rural students are required to compete with more advantaged students during school years and after, whether in college or in the workplace. Recently our local public schools (town population under 700) adopted a four-day school week.To give children and families in the four-county area where we're located additional support and to enhance learning opportunities, a group of us formed a non-profit Big Sandy Cultural Fund, and we're in the process of converting an abandoned store into a cultural center and year-round educational program with emphasis on the arts and creative thinking. Although there are many more disadvantaged children in urban/suburban areas, they at least have significantly greater opportunities to access museums, libraries, the performing arts, galleries, professional sports events, festivals and parades than do their rural counterparts. As the authors of this commentary note, public schools everywhere are reviled by politicians, business leaders and pundits who would rather denounce public education than adequately fund it, repair its decaying infrastructure and create an atmosphere where the art of teaching is rewarded and honored. Concerned citizens must step forward, but so must foundations, corporations and capable individual donors. Regarding rural America, those with the means and power to supply its educational needs should remember that much of rural America produces the food that feeds our nation.
Doug Giebel, Executive Director
Big Sandy Cultural Fund
Big Sandy, Montana
Public Schools are a major aspect of our Commonwealth. The Commons are under attack for over 35 years since libertarian Republican Ronald Reagan was sworn into office. They want our schools, parks, libraries, hospitals and public universities.
Reagan's Revolution is about Deregulation, Outsourcing and Privatization. The corporate ibertarians have targeted virtually every public service and public asset in the name of "streamlining" government. They are literally deconstructing civil government. They're doing it with the help of Blue Dog Democrats like Goldman Sachs' "NAFTA Bill" Clinton and the "Goldwater Girl."
In order to succeed, defenders of Public Schools should consider linking with the defenders of our state, local and national parks. Schools and Parks go hand in hand.
My husband David Spring is running for Superintendent of Public Instruction in Washington State to get school funding by going to the Supreme Court to roll back the tax breaks. We see the neo-liberal assault on our schools and it needs to be fought against. These elite will stop at nothing to get all of the money and power they can whether it be via the healthcare system, the schools or the food supply. Via the schools, we see common core and its tests, data-mining and the rise of charter schools. David Spring's website is here- https://springforbetterschools.org/ And our book on how education is being overrun by big money interests is here... we give it away for free... https://weaponsofmassdeception.org/