The Public Education Solution, as Explained by Robert Reich
… and likely mangled in the translation by me:
This is how public education works in the United States: Property taxes pay for it. (For the most part; I hear some states actually give the lottery profits to their public education systems, but for all those instant millionaires, schools still suck from sea to shining sea.) Property taxes, that is, from district to district.
See? A rich district, let’s call it District A, with major moolah invested in McMansions, pays one helluva lot of property tax (unless you’re in California, where the dipshits put a cap on it – possibly the dumbest thing to come out of California voters in decades); the rich district, then, has excellent public schools, because of all that property tax moolah rushing into its coffers. Meanwhile, down the block, the district changes. Welcome to District B.
District B is, as they say, on the wrong side of the tracks. Low rent, dilapidated homes, low property values – ergo, low property taxes, ergo… crappy schools. The schools get what they can afford, folks. (And let’s not even go into what the ravages of NCLB on these districts have been, and how the federal government has not fully funded this federal fucking program.)
So what was Robert Reich’s brilliantly simple solution? Can you guess? Because I did.
Fuck the districts. When it comes to paying for public education, this is how it should work:
You put the entire nation’s federal property taxes into One Big Pool. You take the number of schools in the country – the NECESSARY number, which means you add, say, a 25% increase in the number of schools – especially in those districts that have grotesquely overcrowded public schools, see? Then you divide the total amount collected EVENLY between each and every single public school in the country.
Sure, it’s a clusterfuck getting started – but we’d see vast improvement in virtually every goddamned public school in the country.
Imagine it: Every public school in the country, equally — and more than adequately — funded.
Now, what would happen next? The rich folks, seeing their children’s rich public school brought to equal footing with all the other public schools, either send their kids to private school (more room for other kids, no reduction in property taxes) – or the kids stay and we witness an educational revolution the likes of which hasn’t been seen since FDR.
And think of all the new jobs, for heaven’s sake. The Department of Education’s payroll would have to increase. More jobs for more teachers. More textbooks being bought. More computers. Hell, more PENCILS.
Now, I don’t know shit about this stuff, not really. You’ve pretty much got everything I know about the country’s public school system in a few sentences. So, if I’ve oversimplified the proposal, do let me know. But I think I’ve basically distilled Reich’s idea – and goddamnit, it’s a GOOD one. Level the playing field – level it for REAL.
We are the richest goddamned country in the world. There is simply no reason for the disparities between our public schools.
Of course, there’s no reason for the disparities in our healthcare, either… but that, my friends, is another story.