Commentary: Hard Times for Public School

Republican hysteria over budget deficits, on top of the recession, could devastate our educational system. Is this the way a great country invests in its children’s future?

Posted: 10/26/2011 11:21 AM EDT
Filed Under education

America’s public education system is in great danger. A sagging U.S. economy and sharp cutbacks in public funding has put a major strain on school districts across the nation.

 

To get by, they have been cutting services to the bone. A growing number of schools, especially in rural areas, have cut their five-day week to four. Some have extended classes an extra ten minutes in a feeble attempt to make up for the loss in instructional time, but many experts feel it will not be enough to compensate for what's been given up.

 

Other school districts are so strapped for cash, they have foregone buying new textbooks, computers, lab equipment and other vital educational items. Add this to the ongoing underfunding of public school that has taken place since the Reagan Administration and the effects are devastating. And there appears to be no light — or enlightenment — at the end of this dark and dismal tunnel. The worst may still lie ahead.  

 

With the economy still faltering, budgets being slashed at all levels of government, and Republican zealots calling for cuts as drastic as 25 percent, we could be seeing massive teacher layoffs and fewer programs in art, music, foreign languages and even core subjects taken out of the classrooms. Needless to say, if this happens, public school is headed for even leaner times than ever before. This means that the children who attend public school will once again be underserved. Surely our children deserve better.

 

Like many African-Americans, I owe a great deal to our system of public education. Thanks to public school, I was able to obtain a good secondary education that laid the foundation for my college education, which gave me the knowledge and skill to write this column, among other things.

 

I believe that all Americans, regardless of income, should have access to a quality education. It is their right as citizens of this great Nation; moreover, our country’s future depends on our ability to create and support educated citizens capable of competing competently in this ever-changing global economy.   

 

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.

(Photo: Lee Celano/Reuters)

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