All over the country, budgets for education are being slashed. Orange County is no exception. In fact, over the past three years, O.C. school districts have felt the tightening of the budgetary belts to the tune of $800 million, resulting in mandatory furloughs, a reduced number of school days for students, program cuts and increased class sizes.
Now O.C. schools could be facing another $4.8 billion in cuts, which could mean more than 1,500 teachers and other educator jobs could be lost. It's disheartening, to say the least.
In an atmosphere where teachers are being villanized and there is a political push to privatize education, have we forgotten that education has always been the great equalizer? If public education is completely discarded, what will the results be for the American economy? While I understand the need to control the deficit, why is it that the most vulnerable in our society should feel the deepest cuts? Is the answer to all things really making it the responsibility of the private sector?
Sure, some would argue that the answer is yes. However, if we look at countries where there is no public school availability, we'll discover that only the wealthy can afford to pursue education. Furthermore, some studies suggest that the schools aren't the problem, but rather socio-economic inequality. Privatizing education would only perpetuate this inequality, reducing the opportunity for socio-economic mobility and creating an underclass of unskilled and uneducated citizens.
Our educational system may need much improvement, but most of us can agree that it would be foolish to throw the baby out with the bathwater. If the U.S. wants to remain competitive in this global economy, it's imperative that we reaffirm our dedication to public education, create incentives to attract high-quality teachers, and work to fix what's broken in the system we currently have.
What do you think about the seemingly endless cuts to education and what it means for the nation?