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  • Susan Stoderl

Child and Adult Literacy | Public Education Under Siege

Public Education is a right. Literacy matters.

I read an article recently by Thom Hartmann, which is certainly related to literacy and/or the lack thereof. It addresses something I have suspected for a long time. Right-wing politicians and their billionaire funders are doing everything in their power to end education. In my state of North Carolina, the state ranks eleventh in wealth and forty-eighth in K-12 public school funding. People who are illiterate and do not learn critical thinking are easier to control. The powers that be, which are nowhere near most of the U.S. population, can exercise more control over the public. Those powers wish to do away with the right to education for those who are poor and/or people of color.

Florida and Arizona are trying to destroy public education by making statewide private school voucher programs available for every child. Oklahoma plans to allow public school funds to pay for attendance at a private Catholic charter school. Arkansas, ranked forty-third in high school graduates, is now gutting the state’s prohibition on child labor. When children work a full shift at a factory after school, they fail in school because they are too tired. Aside from that, where is their childhood? Eight other Republican-controlled states are working on similar legislation. Florida and Texas are now airing cartoons proclaiming that Frederick Douglass, who escaped slavery, would oppose the Black Lives Matter movement.

There are two other very important reasons to attack quality public education. Public education is the number-one driver of social and economic mobility. Someone who is poor and bright can enrich their life. They can challenge those who try to take away their due, however, high school dropouts have very little chance of challenging anyone in authority. As the public schools lose cash, it is easier to bust the teacher unions and keep them on at lower wages. Ninety percent of public school teachers subsidize their student’s classroom supplies. And, many of them just give up and quit teaching.

Eighty percent of parents support their public schools and believe they are doing a good job. But their voices are being silenced by legislative bill after bill to weaken the right of every child to have a quality education.


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