Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Another Pathetic Gesture

Are you tired of the federal government passing economic assistance efforts that are so small as to be laughable for everyone except bankers, who get whatever they want? I certainly hope not, because as Robert Reich notes, there's another one on the way:

Any day now, the Obama administration will announce $4.35 billion in extra federal funds for under-performing public schools. That’s fine, but relative to the financial squeeze all the nation’s public schools now face it’s a cruel joke.

The recession has ravaged state and local budgets, most of which aren’t allowed to run deficits. That’s meant major cuts in public schools and universities, and a giant future deficit in the education of our people.

Bail Out Our Schools

American public schools had been underperforming already. That $4.35 billion represents less than one percent of what we pay for public schools in this country:

Current expenditures for public elementary and secondary schools will be about $543 billion for the 2009−10 school year. The national average current expenditure per student is projected at $10,844, up from $9,683 in actual expenditures in 2006−07 (source and source)."

Department Of Education: Fast Facts

It should be clear from that statistic alone that this is a drop in the bucket. Of course, as Reich noted, it's worse than that. Chicago public schools alone laid off 1,000 employees last year to help meet a budget shortfall totaling more than $220 million. Public schools in many parts of the country have been tightening their belts for years. They're in over their heads already, and the federal government is offering them a stool.

So you can add this pathetic gesture to all the other pathetic attempts the Obama Administration and Congress have made to look like they're doing something about the economic depression we're falling into: the stimulus bill that wasn't big enough by a factor of three or more, the jobs bill that wouldn't have funded a month of war in Afghanistan, and a health care reform bill that won't help anyone except insurance companies.

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