Saving public education isn’t about Idealism, but survival

January 21, 2019 | The New York Times

Los Angeles hasn’t seen a teachers strike in 30 years, and the risks are huge. But nearly 100 percent of the union members voted to strike because they believe it is necessary if public education is going to be restored to its rightful status as one of the Golden State’s great attractions.

Los Angeles may seem like just one of the teachers strikes — in Kentucky, West Virginia, Arizona and Colorado — that have roiled the country in the last year. But the fight here feels more existential.

For decades, California has innovated and prospered while its public education system has drifted downward. Once known for its quality public schools, in the 2015-2016 academic year, California ranked 41st among all states in cost-of-living-adjusted per-pupil spending. Now, as inequality grows and living here becomes increasingly unaffordable, reversing the decline in public education is not about idealism — it is about the state’s survival. It feels like a now-or-never moment, a final chance to commit to the public schools that have been eroded by politics, racial wariness and insufficient and invidious alternatives like charter schools.

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