The top-earning 1% of Americans are not satisfied with controlling 40% of the nation’s wealth. Now, in the name of eliminating the state income tax, the rich men have come for our schools. The assault on public education is being perpetuated by the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC. ALEC pairs legislators with corporate executives, providing model bills that are being used to strip funding from schools across the nation.
The wealthiest Americans, including Kansans such as Charles Koch, use ALEC, the Kansas Policy Institute and a myriad of other organizations to promote the legislation to defund our schools. The idea is to diminish the capacity of the public school system to adequately educate our children, creating a higher demand for the private school industry. Governors and state legislators across the nation are working with ALEC to gut public education.
Governor Sam Brownback and the ALEC legislators in our state have slashed funding to our schools to promote the interests of their corporate donors, ignoring the protests of the people most affected by changes to our school system. Parents, grandparents, students and community leaders have spoken out against the budget cuts, the redistricting and now the school closures, all to no avail. Many of our teachers are afraid to speak out against these proposals, for fear of losing their jobs.
Traditionally, teachers unions would protect educators who speak out against school closures and other legislation affecting students. However, due to legislation drafted by ALEC and promoted by Koch-funded lawmakers, the unions are no longer strong enough to protect the teachers. This is not a coincidence. Public unions have been systematically weakened to silence our teachers as the state takes a wrecking ball to our schools. The billionaires will not be satisfied with closing these five locations.
More schools will be closed and replaced with much larger, factory-like facilities designed to save money, rather than saving children. Instead of receiving the personal attention they deserve, the Kansas student will be reduced to little more than a number. The quality of public education will suffer, giving rise to private schools whose primary goal will be to provide the least while charging the most. Our students will be packed into enormous classrooms, drastically increasing the student to teacher ratio.
All of this will result in our students receiving a sub-standard education, leaving them unarmed in the economy of the future. Kansas, being home to Koch Industries, is the testing ground for this anti-education agenda. Similar legislation, drafted by the same people, can be seen in states like Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida, Louisiana, Michigan and New Jersey, just to name a few. We, as Kansans, need to put a stop to this now.
Appealing to the school board may postpone the boundary changes and subsequent closures, but until we direct our efforts towards Governor Brownback, ALEC, KPI, Koch Industries and the other ALEC companies, we will continue to see coordinated legislation designed to rob our children of the educational services they need, in the name of lining the pockets of the rich. They will close schools in working class neighborhoods, rebuilding them in higher income areas. This is Robin Hood in reverse and our children deserve better.