Free quality public education, available to all, is a hallmark of any free and fair society. Government subsidy of private schools and charter schools is unquestionably an attack on Public Education and by extension working class peoples, which effectively diverts necessary funding from our most needy schools. For all our students to attain the best education possible, we must demand massive increases to the state’s budget for education at every level, from new school construction, to higher pay for our teachers, doubling the number of teachers now working in MD, ESOL program expansions, higher standards for programs serving disabled students, expansion of nutritional programs, necessary facility upgrades/maintenance, etc… Additionally, prioritizing investment in Maryland’s most historically marginalized communities first is how we begin to get ahead of statewide educational outcome inconsistencies. Where there is the greatest lack, there is the greatest opportunity for improvement, because rising tides raise all ships.
This all said, the failures of our school systems aren’t entirely funding related, how money in education is spent, institutional teaching methodologies, applicability of curricula to the needs of the child/community, etc. all play significant roles beyond the funding component of public education. However, when we have school systems in Baltimore with abnormally high drop out rates, and extraordinarily low performance rates, and we’re funding kiddy prisons instead of more education, something has gone horribly wrong. We believe our state should invest in our youth not lock them away.
Standardized testing is a form of racial profiling because it provides a means for school boards , legislators and deficit hawks to categorize racially oppressed community’s youth as falling below the norm. Testing performance related allotment of public education funding promotes a most privileged first dynamic in education funding. We propose our state flip this dynamic and invest in the most marginalized and disadvantaged communities throughout the state first.
When we reduce any of our children’s abilities, knowledge, station in life, and even worth, to how skilled they are at test taking, the assumptions that creates about our children’s intelligence have profound effects on their self-confidence, the types of jobs they get out of school, penchant for risky behaviors, and even their overall quality of life. Institutions and agents that functionally maintain white supremacist and classicist authority in rhetoric and/or policy, necessarily perpetuate negative stereotypes about each successive generation of poor and/or racially targeted group as having diminished intellects.
The student debt burden associated with our states models for higher education which our young graduates are expected to shoulder is egregious. Every year those new graduates come out of school with higher and higher levels of debt with no end to these exponentially rising trends in sight. Our young scholars and scientists cannot invent the future if they are too burdened with crippling debt to ever take any risk. How can our academics excel in their scholarship, innovativeness or in the refinement of their pedagogical practices if they must pick up night shifts at TGI Fridays or resort to sex work just to pay the bills? Our state and nation now more than ever need policy that invests in our future, in our children, and in progressive education. I am fully committed to struggle for free public college tuition, stifling predatory practices of for profit universities and for the abolition of student debt. It’s important that we ask ourselves here what kind of society we want to live in. Do we want our children to graduate in chains or with the world at their feet?