“Think of the Children!”

The Failure of Public Education

“School cuts would hurt neediest kids,” the headline in the local Gannett paper proclaimed.  With the spring primary just days away, the administration of Rockford School District 205 was urging the public to pass the third education referendum in a row.  This one would allow the district to issue $23.5 million in bonds and use the revenue to pay back tax protesters who had successfully fought judicial taxation during the district’s 12-year school-desegregation lawsuit.  Despite the unusual circumstances, however, the rhetoric was the same as that used in referenda battles across the country: “Think of the children!”

The district administration claimed that drastic cuts would need to be made if the referendum failed: no more sports, computers, drama, band, and no more tutors for children who needed extra help.  All of the major cuts had one thing in common: They would eliminate programs that bring children to school early and keep them there until late in the day.  In other words, these programs allow mothers to work without having to shell out extra money for daycare, and they keep young children off of the street.

The administration played its cards well: On March 19, the referendum passed by approximately 500 votes, out of 34,000 cast.  Though District 205 already spends almost $10,000 per student, local voters had shown their willingness to provide a quality...

Join now to access the full article and gain access to other exclusive features.

Get Started

Already a member? Sign in here