An article, by Jesse McKinley at  New York times describes the current wave of protest on cuts in education at California’s public education system. The article describe the rationale for this cuts in the following terms

California’s public education system has been racked by spending cuts because of the state’s financial problems, which include a looming $20 billion budget deficit. Layoffs and furloughs have hit many districts and school systems, along with reductions in course offerings and grants.

In a post last year, “California university regents approve 32 percent tuition increase” , I point out  that this could be signaling a point of not return for forms of affordable access to quality university education in the United States. The fact that the article also points out other scattered protest in other  states seems to indicate that this has become a national trend. For instances the article also points out tuition protests,

with at least 16 people arrested at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, when protesters tried to force their way into administration offices and threw ice chunks at campus officers, according to a university spokesman.

This point out to a long trajectory of increasing reduce investment in public education by states, now exacerbate by the economic crisis. In California this seemingly acquire  dramatic proportions indicating a point of not return in the public system. As a graduate student, at the protest  indicate, “I plan to be a teacher, but it’s not my job prospects [what] I’m worried about[….]It’s the whole system.” . This is rather dramatic if we consider the role that education play in social policies, and the current  situation of economic depressed areas such as “Richmond, near San Francisco, where unemployment is 17.6 percent and violent crime and poverty are common”, where those cuts have more acute effects. The literature describe the US as a wealthy “advance industrial society” but we see situations, now exacerbate by the economic crisis,   resembling those of a struggling developing country in which teachers describe the situation in terms such as

“Kids come to school hungry; some are homeless,” said Mary Flanagan, 55, a third-grade teacher from Richmond. “How can we deal with problems like that with as many as 38, 40 kids in a class?”

Public education, in California, and the  affordable access to public higher education,  for a long time a feature of US welfare state policies are now confronting a terminal crisis without easy solutions.

Reference:

McKinley, J. (March 5,2010). Thousands in California protest cuts in education. New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/05/education/05protests.html?hpw

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