To Do IV. Education

The COVID-19 pandemic is just what the Doctor ordered for American education. Well, it could be. First, we must, as is our wont, muddle for as long as possible. Plenty of time. What with students and teachers being quarantined one right after another, it’s going to be a long year. Time a plenty to fall for all that state propaganda about how classrooms are safe and kids need to be in the classroom just like before. You’d think we would learn. It’s been a long year already.

Dr. says: In order to safely open the schools, class sizes need to be reduced by at least one-third, by one-half being even mo betta. Class schedules need be staggered in order to reduce hallway, bathroom, and cafeteria crowding. Extra staffing required. Ventilation needs to be improved. Things that will require money and money was always the problem; before the pandemic, for a long time now. The big con that let them get by without properly funding the school for so long now was to blame it on the teachers. Who else could they blame, themselves? Koch Bros weren’t being stupid all these years, didn’t pack school boards with masochists; they wanted folks on school boards who liked pointing fingers. Wanted the media to tell people what to think about schools; right away. No experience needed. Opinions and jokers wild. It was all about taxes in the end, you know.

Poor teachers were being given advice from left and right from people with absolutely no knowledge of what it was like in public school classrooms. Born to teach, they just bowed their necks and took more of the load. Teachers work for the board. The board works for the parents and other residents; board’s a political job, often seen as a possible first step to a career in politics. The parents of kids with issues didn’t want to be blamed for these issues, and no one running for school board was about to do so. District residents living in their dream homes didn’t want to, couldn’t afford to, pay anymore taxes on something they paid more for than they could afford in the first place. Higher taxes lower real estate values. School failure was all the fault of overpaid teachers and their damned teachers’ union.

A quick look at when, where and why it all began to go awry. When – the year was 1978. Place – California. Why – the Jarvis-Gann Amendment, aka, Prop 13. Prop. 13 limited all property taxes to 1.0% or less of assessment. Gang aft a-gley. It started an avalanche of clones nation-wide. Worse, a guy named Grover Norquist caught wind of the excitement; decided there was gold in California’s Prop. 13 and began mining a national tax rebellion for a living. Convinced the National Republican Party to adopt a no new taxes platform, he did. Neither California or the nation has been quite the same since. Before 1978, schools in most states were pretty well funded. Since, across America, public schools have been systematically starved, infrastructure has deteriorated, …; it’s been all down hill. Prop. 15 on this year’s California Ballot is designed to overturn the most egregious aspects of the 1978 Prop. 13. If 15 passes and other states copy, that’s a big first step toward righting an egregious wrong. The implications are huge. Prop. 13 played a big role in increasing the price of housing. Increased housing prices drove homelessness. One might expect the opposite effect if it’s undone.

Where to get this extra money for schools? Given the momentous changes in the economy over these 40 plus years; a look at other sources for school funding might be in order. Given that the industrial base is all but gone, retail is fading fast, and wages have long been stagnate; follow the money and tax the flows of money and goods, and tax wealth. Today’s and tomorrow’s ka-ching is the mouse click; that’s when the sale is transacted, when and where to collect a tax. At the port of entry’s another ka-ching, ka-ching with each scan of the bar code. By electronic transfer only.