Opinion: "Poverty Is the Problem" With our Public Schools, Not Teachers' Unions

Monday, August 29, 2011

As children across the nation head back to school, we turn now to a number of recent developments in education news. Here in New York, nearly 780 employees of the city?s Education Department will lose their jobs by October in the largest layoff at a single agency since Michael Bloomberg became mayor in 2002. I reported in today?s Daily News that those layoffs are going to be hitting particularly hard the poorest school districts in the city. The layoffs stem from budget cuts to schools, which have occurred in each of the last four years. The cuts have cost more than 2,000 full-time public school teachers their assignments and now threaten the job security of more than 400 school aides and 82 parent coordinators.

At last month?s "Save Our Schools" rally in Washington, D.C., education author Jonathan Kozol criticized the drive toward fewer teachers and larger classes.

JONATHAN KOZOL: Class size is soaring in the poorest schools. I walk into classes with 35, 40, 42 children packed into a single room. Originality? Forget it. Creativity? Forget it. Critical thinking, asking questions? There?s no time for children to ask questions. If they learn to ask demanding questions, they might start to question why the people we elect to office will not keep their promises.

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