That's the title of Paul Krugman's column in this morning's New York Times. This spring, in several states, teachers strikes are springing up like dandelions. Krugman explains what's been happening:
So what happens when hard-line conservatives take over a state, as they did in much of the country after the 2010 Tea Party wave? They almost invariably push through big tax cuts. Usually these tax cuts are sold with the promise that lower taxes will provide a huge boost to the state economy.
This promise is, however, never — and I mean never — fulfilled; the right’s continuing belief in the magical payoff from tax cuts represents the triumph of ideology over overwhelming negative evidence.
For a great majority of states are required by law to balance their budgets. This means that when tax receipts plunge, the conservatives running many states can’t do what Trump and his allies in Congress are doing at the federal level — simply let the budget deficit balloon. Instead, they have to cut spending.
How, after all, can governments save money on education? They can reduce the number of teachers, but that means larger class sizes, which will outrage parents. They can and have cut programs for students with special needs, but cruelty aside, that can only save a bit of money at the margin. The same is true of cost-saving measures like neglecting school maintenance and scrimping on school supplies to the point that many teachers end up supplementing inadequate school budgets out of their own pockets.
At the national level, earnings of public-school teachers have fallen behind inflation since the mid-1990s, and have fallen even more behind the earnings of comparable workers. At this point, teachers earn 23 percent less than other college graduates. But this national average is a bit deceptive: Teacher pay is actually up in some big states like New York and California, but it’s way down in a number of right-leaning states.
Ontario, during the Mike Harris years, lived through the same phenomena. My family and I lived through two strikes. Harris was himself a failed teacher and his Minister of Education was a high school drop out. I suspect that, if Doug Ford is elected premier, history will repeat itself. Mr. Ford and his brother Rob are and were not noted for their stellar educations.
I have an obvious bias on this issue. But it seems clear -- at least to me -- that when the uneducated attain power, education is not a priority.
Image: The Tyee