This morning I watched Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president of NEA, present the keynote address to the 7000-plus delegates to the NEA Representative Assembly currently meeting in Orlando, Florida. In it she quoted from her “favorite poem” titled The New American Dream written by Carolyn Warner, former Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Give me your hungry children, your sick children,
Your homeless and abused children.
Give me your children who need love
as badly as they need learning.
Give me your children who have talents and gifts and skills.
Give me your children who have none.
Give them all to me, in whatever form they come, and the people within these walls will help
Give you the doctors and the engineers and the scientists and the lawyers and the ministers and the teachers of tomorrow. We will give you the mothers and the fathers, the thinkers and the builders, the artists and the dreamers.
We will give you the nation of tomorrow.
We will give you the future of America.
We will give you the American Dream.
Supporting our local, state and national public schools is an investment in our nation’s future — not an expense.
1. Spending on public education tends to decrease income inequality. This is even true when there are “adjustments made for other factors affecting income inequality.”
2. Spending on public education decreases income inequality mostly by “contributing more to lower incomes than to higher incomes.”
3. Public education expenditures also contribute to reductions in poverty rates. This is, of course, consistent with the finding that “increased public education expenditures decrease income inequality by increasing lower incomes.”
4. “Greater income equality, increased lower incomes, and reduced poverty rates all lead to other non-economic social benefits, such as reduced crime rates and improvements in the quality of life.” More specifically, “states with greater expenditures on public education seemed to have fewer incidences of property crime.”
Public schools accept all children. Public school teachers teach all children. Public education works for everyone.
The narrow pursuit of test results has sidelined education issues of enduring importance such as poverty, equity in school funding, school segregation, health and physical education, science, the arts, access to early childhood education, class size, and curriculum development. We have witnessed the erosion of teachers’ professional autonomy, a narrowing of curriculum, and classrooms saturated with “test score-raising” instructional practices that betray our understandings of child development and our commitment to educating for artistry and critical thinking. And so now we are faced with “a crisis of pedagogy”–teaching in a system that no longer resembles the democratic ideals or tolerates the critical thinking and critical decision-making that we hope to impart on the students we teach.