Ending the Assault on Public Education
In solidarity with a nation wide movement, students at Portland State University and residents of the state of Oregon find it imperative to raise awareness with the general public about the current trends relating to local and national public education. For the past two decades in particular public funding for education has continually decreased. In part, this is due to the fact that the Oregon legislature decides upon policy and tax expenditure every two years, keeping the beneficiaries, the people, in a lag between the time that economic factors affect them and to when they may receive the required funding for assistance.
The value of public education in the eyes of the average American has also faced a downturn. The turn towards private schools for those who can afford them further deteriorates the notion of education as a public good. People find every approach to funding and policy, whether endorsed by our political left or right, to blame for the failures of our education system. As much faith as we have (or lack) in the method which our system operates, the future of the people of Oregon relies on the quality that our public education institutions are able to provide them with. Given these complex issues, an outcome that would benefit those seeking to receive an education is not impossible, yet not easy.
A number of critiques concerning education are as follows:
- Centralizing the source of funding for public education to private and corporate interest groups is synonymous to self strangulation. Our hope is to keep education accessible to all, which requires that a broad curriculum be available, not a channeled prospectus set by business contracts by private interest groups.
- The State of Oregon’s planning capabilities that are oriented toward caring for its people is shallow due to the construction of the state budget, mainly the General Fund, which allocates money to services that provide supply to the demand of the people. This promotes competition between services that are meant to benefit the people of Oregon, you and I.
- Continual war spending has drained our national economy. The residents of Oregon face continual siphoning of their hard earned income in the form of taxation, funneling funds away from needed public services to instead fuel military operations that have largely failed concise military objectives.
- A tuition increase that passed the 100% mark in a number of decades, compared to the per capita income of Oregon residents, indicates a misplaced sense of duty that policymakers execute, placing their interests on profit instead of people.
- Oregon has the fifth highest rate of unemployment nationwide, as of August, 2010, standing at 10.6% according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Graduates of universities are finding it increasingly difficult to find jobs with such dismal employment prospects.
These problems may be seen as overwhelming, even intimidating. Yet there is no indication that solutions are non-existent. The communities of Oregon must understand the long-term and short-term implication how the deterioration of public education affects all of us. Any well educated economist will tell you that the best solution to a recession is an educated public. The lessons that history teach us tend to indicated the errors of human ways. Rather than concentrate on the historical errors committed, we hope to encourage the involvement of all of Oregon in finding the solution to this problem and the surrounding factors that influence it so.
On October 7th 2010 a coalition of student groups, having responded to a national call to action, will be holding an event that is dedicated to these very problems. It would be our modest hope, if what you find in the news media of today to be troubling, to take the time to hear, learn and organize with the intent to change the future we all have to live with. Come to the South Park Blocks at Portland State University on October 7th, from 10 am to 2 pm to be part of this.
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This message is brought to you by the Portland Coalition to Defend Education.