JANUARY 28, 2009 7:49PM

TALK ABOUT BEING IN DENIAL: A Response to Daniel Borenstein

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“Rather than help reach a community consensus on which of 13 schools under consideration would be best to shutter, opposition groups have dug in their heels, demanding no school closures, no teacher layoffs, restoration of program cuts, class-size reductions and no changes to teacher wage and benefit packages…Talk about being in denial.”   Daniel Borenstein Contra Costa TIMES 1/25/09

Employing terminology from pop psychology to demean the communities demands, such as: no school closures, no teacher layoffs, restoration of programs, class-size reductions and no reduction of  teacher’s wage and benefit packages, Mr. Borenstein takes his position amongst the pundits who make their daily bread peddling the elitist viewpoint: that the economic crisis should be balanced on the back of the working class.  

When Mr. Borenstein called me last week and asked what the community wants, I told him we want an education system equivalent or superior to the schools our generation attended 35 years ago; back before Proposition 13 when California was leading the nation in quality education.  In, what my daughter calls, “the olden days”  students had neighborhood schools, industrial arts,  computers programming,  advanced placement options,  sports, dance, music, art, drama etc.   Mr. Borenstein apparently thinks it is unreasonable for our kids to have what we had.  He has self-censored to the extent that he is unable to see past the failed system to a solution.  So instead of supporting our districts needs he uses his second rate psychological skills and column in the Times to write off the demands of the community.

The crisis in education is not new, neither is it confined to the WCCUSD nor can it be solved by the school district, the county, or the state alone.   Unless our local crisis becomes understood as a statewide and nationwide issue real solutions will not be considered or forthcoming.  We are in the midst of a statewide and national debate which must lead to a reordering of priorities.

It has become apparent that state policy that favors tax advantage for  commercial and industrial property owners over spending for  education  (e.g. Proposition 13) has resulted in an incremental  dismantling of the public education system.  There is little mystery behind the fact that since Proposition 13 passed the quality of public education has declined and the prison population has expanded.  Today the state warehouses 170,000 prisoners (at a cost greater than $8,000,000,000.00) up from 22,500 in 1979.  You don’t have to have a PhD. in sociology to recognize that the decline in education and rise in prison population are two sides of a failed system.   But according to Borenstein, the community is “in denial” because we want our kids to go to college not San Quentin.

On the national level billions are wasted on unilateral/imperial military misadventures aimed at securing geo-political footing and control of resources to maintain a failed model of social organization and energy expenditure the elite quaintly call “our way of life”.  Borenstein expects us to sacrifice our children’s education to preserve “our way of life” for the gluttons and oligarchs of oil such as Exxon and Chevron, as well as the war profiteers such as Halliburton, Bechtel, Kellogg Brown and Root, and the new Praetorian Guard, the mercenaries of Blackwater.  

Beside the wasteful war spending (over $600,000,000,000.00 a year), Washington is dipping into our pockets and our grand children’s pockets to finance a bail-out of irresponsible bankers and speculators. Now that half of the $700,000,000, 000.00 has been spent the geniuses who came up with the plan and the bozo’s that passed it have admitted the expenditure did not work.  In fact they are incapable of accounting for what has been spent and millions have found their way into the hands of the very bankers and speculators who created the mess, as bonuses for their commitment to preserving “our way of life”.   One might contend that by ignoring the structural causes (both at the State and Federal level) for the crisis of funding, at the local level,  Mr. Borenstein is himself “in denial”.

Charles Rachlis 1/27/09

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Keep up the good work, Charles! The teachers in LA had a big rally on Thursday against cuts in the education budget - with the support of their union and others. (See the post about it by Without a Paddle, here.) I hope that will help inspire the teachers and community in West Contra Costa USD to get out there and do what it takes to keep the schools open.
Great response. I am a Bay Area firefighter who is tired of Mr. Borenstein's redundant articles claiming California's financial woes are the result of public servants and their retirement system. His articles might as well be titled with the simplistic mantra "My taxes pay your salary". But I guess once you decide upon a scapegoat, as Mr. Borenstein has, and you find a few wing nut followers, it's hard to see the flaws in your argument.
Fireman your dead on! The entire layer of right wing nuts attacks public workers and makes the atmosphere ripe to cut our wage package. One day they will wake up and find out no one was able to fill the pot holes, change the lights in the traffic lights or show up when their house catches on fire...in the mean time the worst hurt by the cuts will be children living in poverty and those dependent on the state for survival. I am sure some one much wiser than myself once said something like, You can tell a lot about a society by how it treats the least amongst them.