Education Under Attack

Tuesday, 06 July 2010 11:13 Written by  Essence McDowell

Educators around the nation stopped teaching to protest. The warning signs hit code red when National Teaching Day turned into National Day of Action to Defend Education.


The recession is so violently attacking education that teachers, faculty and staff set aside a day to protect it through protesting, striking, walking out of classes and staging sit-ins and teach-ins.

The demonstrations, marches and rallies were in dispute of the nationwide budget cuts, tuition hikes, compensation reductions, layoffs and privatizations affecting public K-12 schools and universities.

Some may question the uproar after the Obama Administration delegated $100 billion in federal stimulus money in 2009 toward education reform.

One hundred billion dollars does seem like an enormous helping hand. But when that money is split between 50 states and divided amongst tens of thousands of schools, what seems like a lot, in reality is not nearly enough.

States are slowly but surely depleting whatever portion of funds they were given. Consequently, the “stimulus” money was only a case of delaying the inevitable.

So the devastation continues.

According to Global Research, in April pink slips were sent out to 22,000 teachers in California, 17,000 in Illinois, and 15,000 in New York.

Major metropolitan areas are being hit hardest by teacher layoffs. The Chicago Sun Times reported due to state education funding woes have triggered a tsunami of pink slips. Chicago’s public school system intends to lay off 3,200 teachers and an additional 880 school employees. In nearby Elgin, Ill., which is the second largest school district in the state, 1,079 employees will see their positions terminated.

In the west of the nation, the number of pink slips swelled to 23,225, according to figures from the California Teachers Association, which represents 325,000 teachers.  A long list of cuts were recently approved by the San Francisco Board of Education for next fiscal year, as the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) tries to remedy a historic two-year, $113 million deficit.

The SFUSD, released information detailing that the cuts include four fewer days on the school calendar; layoff notices for hundreds of teachers; no summer school for most students; and cuts to physical education, the arts and counseling services, the district said.

The Virginia Daily Press reported that in Gloucester, Virginia, students will have 20 fewer days of class next year in a move unanimously approved by the Gloucester School Board in order to save an estimated $586,000 next year.

Cutting four weeks off the school calendar is definitely not the solution.

The nation’s children are paying the price for this recession—literally.

Meanwhile, no one seems to be saying the obvious. Education is what can be the true “bail-out” for this country.

Globalization and international trade requires countries and their economies to compete with each other. Countries that are economically successful will hold competitive and comparative strengths. There is no doubt that countries that are able to economically thrive have a higher percentage of better-trained and better-educated workers.

The education and training of a country’s workers are major factors in determining just how well the country’s economy will do. Therefore, as the teachers are disappearing, major learning programs are being cut and students are sitting at home instead of being taught in a classroom.

Researchers have known for decades that rising education levels positively influence a host of social factors: income, health, voting rates and even the likelihood that a person will stay out of prison.

Education matters not only on an economic scale, but also a social scale––apparently there is a visible and crucial significance. It’s not outlandish to suggest that educational standards and the chances of economic growth and development are deteriorating go hand-in-hand.

President Obama said last month: “The future belongs to the nation that best educates its citizens.”

Perhaps he was not paying attention on March 4, 2009, when National Teaching Day turned into National Day of Action to Defend Education. His advisors may have neglected to inform him of the thousands of teachers losing their jobs and the millions of children sitting at home playing instead of in school learning.

A few are calling for the Obama Administration to produce a larger stimulus package for pedagogy just as easily as he handed over trillions of dollars to Wall Street.

This may just be a brilliant idea. Just as some of the financial institutions have paid back their bailout money, the payback from an education bailout would be far more socially and economically beneficial for the entire nation––and possibly the world.

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Essence McDowell

Essence McDowell

Essence McDowell is a freelance writer for GlossMagazineOnline and recent graduate of the Masters in Journalism program at DePaul University.

She can be contacted at