Teachers and the defense of public education

The American ruling class is carrying out a wholesale attack on public education, and teachers are a principal target.

Starved of funds, states and localities throughout the country are shutting public schools and ending critical programs. Teachers are victimized for the crisis in education and have been forced to accept mass layoffs, cuts in benefits and wages, and increased class sizes. Since 2008, more than 200,000 teaching positions have been eliminated, with hundreds of thousands more on the chopping block.

The attack on public education is part of an overall drive by the corporate and financial elite to undermine all the rights of the working class. After handing out trillions of dollars to the banks, the governments at the state and federal levels are imposing brutal cuts to education, health care, and other critical social services.

The Obama administration is spearheading this campaign. The president, through the “Race to the Top” program has given his support to all the right-wing nostrums aimed at attacking public education, including charter schools, merit pay, and the firing of teachers at “underperforming schools.”

Public education is based on the fundamentally egalitarian principle that everyone should have access to quality education. As such, it is incompatible with an economic system whose fundamental premise is inequality. The defense of education is therefore bound up with the socialist transformation of economic life.