Savage Inequalities

Voice Card  -  Volume 27  -  Larry Card Number 12  -  Tue, Jan 26, 1993 11:11 PM

This is ONE OF 4 responses to VC 26 John 7 ("Interesting Speech")...

You should read "Savage Inequalities: Children in America's Schools" by Jonathon Kozol. A public school advocate, he compares rich and poor schools located within a few miles of each other. These stark contrasts of physical surroundings and learning environments really bring home a startling realization of just how different school can be for poor and minority-race children as opposed to middle-class and white children.

His whole point, that the system of using property taxes to fund public education creates the problems people complain about in public education. In this system, even if the poorest school districts are in areas of high taxes (and many are, like East St. Louis, IL and Camden, NJ), it doesn't mean anything because the property is relatively worthless. A high percentage tax on nothing still yields nothing, especially not adequate funding for the local schools.

Kozol advocates abolishing the property tax as a means of financing public education and replacing it with equitable funding for every child deriving from a single federal source.

He claims that this would do away with people wondering what will work for public education. Because we already know what works - the problem is that we are not prepared to pay the bill for it.

As he states, if a poor black family in Chicago wants to know what works, they don't need a $2 million grant from Exxon to set up a network of essential schools. All they need to do is take a bus trip to one of the rich northside suburbs and see what money pays for. All they need to do is see schools where there are 16 children per teacher, schools where the roofs don't leak, schools with 200 computers, schools surrounded by green lawns, schools where filth and desperation don't exist.

He responds to the question, "Can we really solve this problem by throwing more money at public education?" with a resounding "YES!" He wonders why conservatives love to say throwing money at education, but never use that term in reference to the Pentagon. We allocate money to the Pentagon. We throw money at education.

If you want to know what I think education could be doing better, that's it - receiving adequate funding.