Financial czar threatens to throw Detroit public schools into bankruptcy

Published on WSWS.org, by Walter Gilberti, 1 July 2009.

The drive to dismantle the public schools system in Detroit has reached a critical stage under the whip of emergency financial manager Robert Bobb, who declared on Monday that he is considering bankruptcy proceedings for the Detroit Public Schools (DPS). Such a course would result in the ripping up of union contracts, the loss of thousands of more jobs and the closing of more than half of the schools that remain open.

The move would also signal a green light to all the advocates of privatization and the spread of charter schools at the expense of public education …  

… The idea that excellent schools can be created without a complete redirection of society’s wealth in the interests of the masses of working people is a cruel hoax. Equally fraudulent is the claim that there is no money for education. The Obama administration has given, with no questions asked, trillions of dollars to bail out the investment banks, and disreputable firms such as AIG. A small fraction of the American population is awash in wealth. There is no constituency within this parasitic social layer for the maintenance of public education or, for that matter, the education of the vast majority of urban and working class children.

Moreover, both President Obama and his education secretary Arne Duncan have spoken favorably about charter schools, and are seamlessly carrying out the punitive aspects of the Bush administration’s education policy, as outlined in NCLB. Bobb is simply their point man in the destruction of public education in favor of a class-based system that provides the best instruction to the privileged while offering substandard conditions for the vast majority of working class children.

Genuine free and universal public education is bound up with overcoming the vast inequities in society as a whole and guaranteeing the economic and social well-being of the vast majority of people. The cause of the crisis besetting the Detroit Public Schools is not simply corruption or mismanagement, but the collapse of the capitalist system. Teachers must reject the argument that they have to “save” the Detroit Public Schools by giving up their right to economic security. The opposite is the truth. Only through insisting that there is adequate funding to guarantee secure jobs and decent living standards for all school employees will it be possible to attain the resources necessary to rebuild the public school system and provide high-quality education for all.

Teachers should not hand over another penny in concessions. All further school closings must be opposed and a fight launched to rescind all layoffs. New organizations of struggle must be forged by rank-and-file teachers, independent of the DFT, to unite all school employees in a common struggle with city workers, auto workers, and teachers from other districts, with the aim of launching a general strike movement to defend the working class. (full text).

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