A Public School System on death-row…

I have been a reluctant fan of Victor Davis Hanson (VDH) for several years (I like his meticulous approach to research and the writing of ancient Roman-Greece military and political history; but don’t always like his modern comparative conservative analysis.) However, yesterday in an excellent interview on CSPAN, he made several points that connected (Students should be taught to approach video in the same way they approach literature.) so well when I read the Aaron Kase’s article on the Philadelphia School System in Salon magazine. VDH said:

“..Most people don’t have deep beliefs, they simply respond to winners…”

“..We are who we were 2500 years ago; we react to the same stimuli…”

“..We study the past because it keeps telling us that there are a small number of people who are absolutely no good, and when they get into positions of power, they will take things that are not logical; and you can’t explain to them that it is not in their interest to take that piece of land…”

“..Culture determines the way people fight or not fight…”

“…As I get older I understand that the mind of one person can get a lot of people killed, and (or) a lot of people saved..”

“…The victory is going to the people with the greatest morale, the greatest conviction in their cause…”

“…In June of 1940 in Germany we couldn’t find a German who didn’t agree with Hitler, after his stunning victories in France and Poland. If we had this conversation in March of 1945, we couldn’t find a German who would say they were for Hitler. What had changed? Not their ideology, and not Hitler, he was in fact even more devious. We keep thinking that people are ideological, or that they are political, or that they have deep seeded opinions based on convictions and principles; as I get older, I think that this is true of only 20% of the people…”

“..They (‘Savior Generals’) believe that: “most people won’t do what I will do.” They don’t have a lot of confidence in human nature; and yet they were mature enough not to have contempt for the people..”


         When I think about public education in places like Philadelphia, New York City and Washington DC; you wonder if asking the parents of these students, and the communities in which the students live, to see the inferior mis-education given these children, as an intellectual and emotional death sentence. Is it simply a case of just asking too much……Describing a crisis that does not objectively represent itself as a crisis to those most affected? The ability to live in a “separate peace”, as a vicious war of destruction is waged against your children….. The standard has been so reduced for many children, such that all that is required is to: Just open school, and give them lunch, a desk and a chair….In many ways this is a new and insidious expression of separate and unequal. This form of inequality is much more subtle and lethal because, often it is fashioned in the minds, and with the hands of people with whom the children have a cultural link. In a strange sense, I understand the immoral rational for Gov. Corbett’s mean and harmful actions; And yet I don’t understand the absence of a dramatic mass reaction in defense of those children…but then again, maybe I do.


“Indescribably insane”: A public school system from hell 


Pennsylvania’s right-wing governor drains public schools of basic funds — and the sickening details will shock you

By Aaron Kase/Salon

Want to see a public school system in its death throes? Look no further than Philadelphia. There, the school district is facing end times, with teachers, parents and students staring into the abyss created by a state intent on destroying public education.

On Thursday the city of Philadelphia announced that it would be borrowing $50 million to give the district, just so it can open schools as planned on Sept. 9, after Superintendent William Hite threatened to keep the doors closed without a cash infusion. The schools may open without counselors, administrative staff, noon aids, nurses, librarians or even pens and paper, but hey, kids will have a place to go and sit.

The $50 million fix is just the latest band-aid for a district that is beginning to resemble a rotting bike tube, covered in old patches applied to keep it functioning just a little while longer. At some point, the entire system fails.

Things have gotten so bad that at least one school has asked parents to chip in $613 per student just so they can open with adequate services, which, if it becomes the norm, effectively defeats the purpose of equitable public education, and is entirely unreasonable to expect from the city’s poorer neighborhoods.

The needs of children are secondary, however, to a right-wing governor in Tom Corbett who remains fixated on breaking the district in order to crush the teachers union and divert money to unproven experiments like vouchers and privately run charters. If the city’s children are left uneducated and impoverished among the smoldering wreckage of a broken school system, so be it.

To be clear, the schools are in crisis because the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania refuses to fund them adequately. The state Constitution mandates that the Legislature “provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of public education,” but that language appears to be considered some kind of sick joke at the state capital in Harrisburg.

It’s worth noting that the state itself runs the Philadelphia School District after a 2001 takeover. The state is also responsible for catastrophic budget cuts two years ago that crippled the district’s finances. And in a diabolical example of circular logic, the state argues that the red ink it imposed, and shoddy management it oversees, are proof that the district can’t manage its finances or its mission and therefore shouldn’t get more money.