Saturday, October 4, 2008

Green Schools Bail Out?

I was attending a National Capitol Region conference on greening America's schools and the President of the National Education Association, Dennis Van Roekel, made a comment about the $700 billion bailout of Wallstreet. He was drawing a comparison to schools funding - the lack thereof - and the constant uphill battle to make our education facilities adequate, let alone healthy and conducive to learning. Afterwords I was discussing the issue with a friend and colleague, Patty Rose of GreenHome, who brought up Jonathan Kozol's book Savage Inequalities and how a vast number of students in this country are 'learning' in cesspools that have standing water, mold, pest infestations, malfunctioning (or non-functioning) HVAC systems, lighting, windows, and other basic needs, not to mention poor access to adequate air quality, books, computers, supplies, teaching and administrative staff or any of the other tools that would help prepare younger generations to enter the U.S. and world economy as vital, necessary and prepared assets to this nation's workforce. Patty described crying when she came to a passage in Kozol's book where a student described the horrifying conditions of his school and asked the rhetorical question, 'Do people think we don't know that nobody cares about us?'.

Students today are the workforce of tomorrow, and we are letting them down. THIS is an economic crisis. All these years educators have been begging, pleading, asking, borrowing, demanding that the nation try to provide the tangible and intangible resources vital to education and have been told, 'There isn't enough money.' But Washington's bailout of Wallstreet proves that the money can be found when the crisis is dire enough.

Anyone who thinks the way we fund and support our education system in this country is sufficient and successful needs to look again. Our economy will suffer if we don't reprioritize. I would much rather my tax-payer dollars go towards a $700 billion bailout of the nation's education system than to prop up banks. I know this bailout is already decided, but I would like to propose that we start looking at the next bailout with just as much a sense of urgency. If we could do it in a couple of weeks for Wallstreet, how long should it take to do it for the next generation of our workforce?

No comments:

Environment Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory