Thursday, September 19, 2013

Help Schools by Fixing Wall Street

Most North Country schools are high-needs schools and those that not so designated by NYSED often have school leaders who purport that old formulas are preventing schools from receiving their accurate high-needs designation.  Potsdam Central is one such school district.

Rural high-needs (i.e. poor) school districts across NYS along with urban high-needs schools know what it is like to dismissed because they carry little political clout. Monied interests get to the front of the line, as usual.

The University of California at Berkeley, the Paris School of Economics, and Oxford University recently released a study stating the the income gap between the rich and the poor hasn't been this wide in 100 years. The top income-earners saw their incomes grow by 31% (on average) from 2009 - 2012 while the incomes of the bottom 99% grew by less than half of 1%. While the very rich have prospered, most people have felt the negative impact of the recession.

School leaders in the North Country, for instance, have stated that many (most?) school districts are 1-3 years away from insolvency. The dire fiscal situation among schools has compelled the PCSD and the Canton Central School District (CCSD) to begin merger studies. Many teachers and support staff have lost jobs (a big economic hit to them and the region) and many schools have cut academic programs (a big educational hit to students).

It is in this context that the new Time Magazine cover story, HOW WALL STREET WON: FIVE YEARS AFTER THE CRASH, IT COULD HAPPEN ALL OVER AGAIN resonates. All but the 1%'ers suffered due to the reckless conduct of many "too big to fail" financial institutions. Another recession could occur, according to the author, because "US financial institutions remain free to gamble billions on risky derivatives around the world. A crisis in Europe, for instance, could still potentially devastate a US institution that made a bad bet - and send shock waves through other key sectors, like the $2.7 trillion held in the US money-market funds, much of which is owned by Main Street investors who believe these funds are just as safe as cash."

Those of us worried about the future of education in the PCSD (and the rest of the country for that matter), might want to think about the bigger picture of why meaningful financial sector reforms still have not been put in place by Congress. (It was recently reported that over 50% of those in Congress head into lobbying jobs when they leave.) Among the reforms suggested by the Time Magazine writer:
  1. Fix the Too-Big-To-Fail Problem
  2. Limit the Leverage
  3. Expose Weapons of Mass Financial Destruction
  4. Bring Shadow Banding Into the Light
  5. Reboot the Culture of Finance
School funding problems cannot be addressed in isolation. If the public does not demand proper oversight and control of Wall Street financial institutions by calling for an end to the "economics of malfeasance," then failing schools will be the least of our problems and another recession will not surprise those who have been paying attention. 

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