14.9 percent of American households “food insecure” in 2011September 6, 2012
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 14.9 percent of American households were “food insecure” last year, meaning they had trouble at some point during the year providing enough food for all of the household’s members. 6.8 million households, meanwhile, had very low food security:

– In 2011, 85.1 percent of U.S. households were food secure throughout the year. The remaining 14.9 percent (17.9 million households) were food insecure. Food-insecure households (those with low and very low food security) had difficulty at some time during the year providing enough food for all their members due to a lack of resources. The change from the 2010 estimate (14.5 percent) was not statistically significant, meaning that the difference may be due to sampling variation.
– In 2011, 5.7 percent of U.S. households (6.8 million households and one-third of all food-insecure households) had very low food security. In these households, the food intake of some household members was reduced and normal eating patterns were disrupted at times during the year due to limited resources. The prevalence of very low food security returned to the level observed in 2008 and 2009, a statistically significant increase from the 5.4-percent level of 2010.

These numbers make clear that, though the Great Recession is officially over, its effects are still being felt by households across the country. Reflecting the continued tough economic times, food stamp usage hit a record high in June.
Republicans — who approved a budget that would have thrown millions of people off of food stamps — have used the numbers to claim that food stamps are on an “unsustainable” trajectory. “Washington needs to have a grown-up conversation about the unchecked pace of food stamp enrollment,” said Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) in a statement yesterday.
However, food stamp spending only increased (to a miniscule 0.52 percent of the economy) as a result of the recession, and is on pace to return to its normal level as the economy strengthens. 
According to Center for American Progress Senior Fellow Donna Cooper, the cuts to food stamps that Republicans favor would “force America’s poorest families to forgo as many as 8.2 billion meals a year.” In the meantime, the GOP is using hungry families as a disingenuous example of government run amok.
Source

14.9 percent of American households “food insecure” in 2011
September 6, 2012

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 14.9 percent of American households were “food insecure” last year, meaning they had trouble at some point during the year providing enough food for all of the household’s members. 6.8 million households, meanwhile, had very low food security:

– In 2011, 85.1 percent of U.S. households were food secure throughout the year. The remaining 14.9 percent (17.9 million households) were food insecure. Food-insecure households (those with low and very low food security) had difficulty at some time during the year providing enough food for all their members due to a lack of resources. The change from the 2010 estimate (14.5 percent) was not statistically significant, meaning that the difference may be due to sampling variation.

– In 2011, 5.7 percent of U.S. households (6.8 million households and one-third of all food-insecure households) had very low food security. In these households, the food intake of some household members was reduced and normal eating patterns were disrupted at times during the year due to limited resources. The prevalence of very low food security returned to the level observed in 2008 and 2009, a statistically significant increase from the 5.4-percent level of 2010.

These numbers make clear that, though the Great Recession is officially over, its effects are still being felt by households across the country. Reflecting the continued tough economic times, food stamp usage hit a record high in June.

Republicans — who approved a budget that would have thrown millions of people off of food stamps — have used the numbers to claim that food stamps are on an “unsustainable” trajectory. “Washington needs to have a grown-up conversation about the unchecked pace of food stamp enrollment,” said Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) in a statement yesterday.

However, food stamp spending only increased (to a miniscule 0.52 percent of the economy) as a result of the recession, and is on pace to return to its normal level as the economy strengthens. 

According to Center for American Progress Senior Fellow Donna Cooper, the cuts to food stamps that Republicans favor would “force America’s poorest families to forgo as many as 8.2 billion meals a year.” In the meantime, the GOP is using hungry families as a disingenuous example of government run amok.

Source

London protesters march against ‘capitalist’ GamesJuly 29, 2012
About 500 people critical of the economic impact and corporate flavor of the London Olympics marched Saturday near the Olympic Park, determined to send a message that Britain is not united in backing the games.
The protest march came hours after police arrested more than 130 bicyclists who had defied an order to avoid cycling in groups around the stadium during Friday night’s opening ceremony.
Police said they had ordered the protesters to remain south of the River Thames, to keep them from blocking thousands of ticket-holding guests from attending the opening ceremony. The cyclists said they were held in a cordon by police, and later arrested, for trying to cycle in lanes restricted for official Olympic traffic.
Occupy London, part of a global movement that has waged demonstrations against financial institutions and capitalist policies, said some cyclists were members of the movement. They said police cordoned off more than 100 cyclists at one road junction near the stadium as Friday’s ceremony was beginning and held them there several hours.
Saturday’s protest, the largest so far against the games, drew a mix of left-wing and green activists who decry the Olympics as a corporate juggernaut rolling over residents and their civil rights.
They marched peacefully, chanting against what they called the “Corpolympics,” watched by police officers on foot and motorcycle.
The protesters contend that the often-cited Olympic boost to traditionally gritty, working-class east London is an illusion, whereas major corporate sponsors such as McDonald’s and Coca-Cola gain from the 9.3 billion pound ($14 billion) games. They said the mass arrests at the cycling demonstration, and limits on corporate branding designed to protect sponsors, show that the games are a threat to civil liberties.
Underscoring that message, the marchers passed one of the apartment buildings that have had British army ground-to-air missiles deployed on its roof. That security measure, designed to stop a hijacked aircraft from being crashed into an Olympics venue, has drawn fierce local opposition.
Olympics organizers and the government say the games will leave a legacy of thousands of new homes and jobs, and a major new park in a long-deprived area.
One protester, Michael Coulston, said the British government chose to spend billions on attracting visitors “to one location for a couple of weeks” rather than to build infrastructure of lasting benefit to all Londoners.
Source

London protesters march against ‘capitalist’ Games
July 29, 2012

About 500 people critical of the economic impact and corporate flavor of the London Olympics marched Saturday near the Olympic Park, determined to send a message that Britain is not united in backing the games.

The protest march came hours after police arrested more than 130 bicyclists who had defied an order to avoid cycling in groups around the stadium during Friday night’s opening ceremony.

Police said they had ordered the protesters to remain south of the River Thames, to keep them from blocking thousands of ticket-holding guests from attending the opening ceremony. The cyclists said they were held in a cordon by police, and later arrested, for trying to cycle in lanes restricted for official Olympic traffic.

Occupy London, part of a global movement that has waged demonstrations against financial institutions and capitalist policies, said some cyclists were members of the movement. They said police cordoned off more than 100 cyclists at one road junction near the stadium as Friday’s ceremony was beginning and held them there several hours.

Saturday’s protest, the largest so far against the games, drew a mix of left-wing and green activists who decry the Olympics as a corporate juggernaut rolling over residents and their civil rights.

They marched peacefully, chanting against what they called the “Corpolympics,” watched by police officers on foot and motorcycle.

The protesters contend that the often-cited Olympic boost to traditionally gritty, working-class east London is an illusion, whereas major corporate sponsors such as McDonald’s and Coca-Cola gain from the 9.3 billion pound ($14 billion) games. They said the mass arrests at the cycling demonstration, and limits on corporate branding designed to protect sponsors, show that the games are a threat to civil liberties.

Underscoring that message, the marchers passed one of the apartment buildings that have had British army ground-to-air missiles deployed on its roof. That security measure, designed to stop a hijacked aircraft from being crashed into an Olympics venue, has drawn fierce local opposition.

Olympics organizers and the government say the games will leave a legacy of thousands of new homes and jobs, and a major new park in a long-deprived area.

One protester, Michael Coulston, said the British government chose to spend billions on attracting visitors “to one location for a couple of weeks” rather than to build infrastructure of lasting benefit to all Londoners.

Source

Texas spends $25 million rebuilding mansion as Gov. Perry seeks education, healthcare cutsJuly 13, 2012
Texas Gov. Rick Perry is getting set to return to his official residence in downtown Austin after a $25 million rebuilding, even as he asks state agencies to say how they can cut spending 10 percent in the next budget.
Perry, the former Republican presidential candidate who in 2011 signed a two-year plan that shortchanged schools by $5 billion, will decamp this month from a rental home to resume life in the high-security governor’s mansion. A June 2008 arson fire destroyed much of the two-story brick home built in 1856.
Perry, 62, has made limits on spending a central theme of his years at the helm of the second most populous U.S. state, and stressed fiscal restraint as a national candidate. While Texas revenue is 14 percent above last year, the governor has asked agencies not to seek bigger budgets and to show how 10 percent cuts would affect operations. This week, Perry refused to expand Medicaid to serve more low-income residents.
"I find it interesting that a state that can’t provide children’s health care or taking care of the poor can always find an unexpected $25 million laying around for a favored project," said Bill Aleshire, a lawyer and former Travis County commissioner in Austin. Lawmakers approved the funding in 2009.
"Of course the mansion needed to be repaired — I just don’t get the same sense of frugality" that’s applied to state spending for other purposes, said Aleshire, a Democrat.
For their $21.5 million, plus $3.5 million in public donations, taxpayers got inch-thick longleaf pine floors, an added wing and a geothermal heating and cooling system that required digging 40 350-foot (107 meter) wells. The cost of restoring the 25-room house would be enough to pay for almost 11 million student lunches at Austin’s high schools.
Perry spokeswoman Steffany Duke didn’t respond to questions about the beefed-up security at the home. Those measures led to closing Colorado Street to cars in front of the mansion, raising the height of a brick perimeter wall and adding a guardhouse to screen visitors.
A statement on the governor’s website says that “the integrity of the preservation process, strong collaboration and transparency and a high-quality, cost-efficient restoration are the top priorities” for the group that led the rebuilding. The reopening of its public spaces will add to an area that includes the state Capitol, which attracts 1.5 million visitors a year.
The project introduced fire sprinklers, access for the handicapped to public spaces and, with the 1,500-square-foot addition, expanded the living quarters in the house that has served 40 governors. Perry and his wife, Anita, moved out of the building in October 2007, to make way for renovations that also relocated the mansion’s historic contents, including furniture, artwork and light fixtures — sparing them from the blaze that engulfed the structure less than a year later.
In the intervening years, the Perrys stayed in a 6,400-square-foot, five-bedroom home that rents for $8,500 a month in a gated city neighborhood.
During negotiations to set the two-year budget through August 2013, Perry pressed lawmakers for deeper spending cuts and limits on using reserve funds to bridge a deficit projected to be at least $15 billion. The final spending plan called for $5 billion less for schools than had been mandated, based on previous funding and student population.
Source

Texas spends $25 million rebuilding mansion as Gov. Perry seeks education, healthcare cuts
July 13, 2012

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is getting set to return to his official residence in downtown Austin after a $25 million rebuilding, even as he asks state agencies to say how they can cut spending 10 percent in the next budget.

Perry, the former Republican presidential candidate who in 2011 signed a two-year plan that shortchanged schools by $5 billion, will decamp this month from a rental home to resume life in the high-security governor’s mansion. A June 2008 arson fire destroyed much of the two-story brick home built in 1856.

Perry, 62, has made limits on spending a central theme of his years at the helm of the second most populous U.S. state, and stressed fiscal restraint as a national candidate. While Texas revenue is 14 percent above last year, the governor has asked agencies not to seek bigger budgets and to show how 10 percent cuts would affect operations. This week, Perry refused to expand Medicaid to serve more low-income residents.

"I find it interesting that a state that can’t provide children’s health care or taking care of the poor can always find an unexpected $25 million laying around for a favored project," said Bill Aleshire, a lawyer and former Travis County commissioner in Austin. Lawmakers approved the funding in 2009.

"Of course the mansion needed to be repaired — I just don’t get the same sense of frugality" that’s applied to state spending for other purposes, said Aleshire, a Democrat.

For their $21.5 million, plus $3.5 million in public donations, taxpayers got inch-thick longleaf pine floors, an added wing and a geothermal heating and cooling system that required digging 40 350-foot (107 meter) wells. The cost of restoring the 25-room house would be enough to pay for almost 11 million student lunches at Austin’s high schools.

Perry spokeswoman Steffany Duke didn’t respond to questions about the beefed-up security at the home. Those measures led to closing Colorado Street to cars in front of the mansion, raising the height of a brick perimeter wall and adding a guardhouse to screen visitors.

A statement on the governor’s website says that “the integrity of the preservation process, strong collaboration and transparency and a high-quality, cost-efficient restoration are the top priorities” for the group that led the rebuilding. The reopening of its public spaces will add to an area that includes the state Capitol, which attracts 1.5 million visitors a year.

The project introduced fire sprinklers, access for the handicapped to public spaces and, with the 1,500-square-foot addition, expanded the living quarters in the house that has served 40 governors. Perry and his wife, Anita, moved out of the building in October 2007, to make way for renovations that also relocated the mansion’s historic contents, including furniture, artwork and light fixtures — sparing them from the blaze that engulfed the structure less than a year later.

In the intervening years, the Perrys stayed in a 6,400-square-foot, five-bedroom home that rents for $8,500 a month in a gated city neighborhood.

During negotiations to set the two-year budget through August 2013, Perry pressed lawmakers for deeper spending cuts and limits on using reserve funds to bridge a deficit projected to be at least $15 billion. The final spending plan called for $5 billion less for schools than had been mandated, based on previous funding and student population.

Source

Portuguese doctors go on strike over budget cuts

July 11, 2012

According to Portuguese health ministry, the strike which began on Wednesday will lead to the cancellation of 400,000 appointments and nearly 4,500 operations.

“We have no doubt that the strike will be a resounding success and that the protest will assemble thousands of white coats,” said Mario Jorge Neves, head of the National Federation of Doctors.

The strike over government’s plan to reduce health spending as part of deep budget cuts to meet the terms of a multi-billion euro bailout deal went ahead after Portuguese unions rejected offer of negotiation from the country’s Health Minister Paulo Maceo.

Protesters say that Lisbon has decreased overtime in hospitals, increased prices for prescription medication and shut down certain services in order to meet cuts from health budget.

Portugal is the third country to succumb to financial troubles in the eurozone debt crisis and seek funding assistance after Greece and Ireland. The country received an EU-International Monetary Fund aid package in exchange for a commitment to impose austerity measures and reform its economy.

Europe plunged into deep financial crisis in 2008. The crisis has continued to intensify in recent months.

The worsening eurozone debt crisis has forced EU governments to adopt harsh austerity measures and tough economic reforms, triggering incidents of social unrest and massive protests in many European countries.

Source

Around 6:30 a.m. this morning a large balloon banner reading “Evictions Stop Here” was deployed above the embattled home of the Cruz family as 15 supporters of the Cruz family began an occupation of the rooftop in protest of the family’s unjust foreclosure. By 8:30am two were cut out of a lockbox device with an electric saw, handcuffed, taken down a ladder and arrested for trespassing. The action kicks off a national day of action in 18 cities demanding PNC Bank negotiate with the family to allow them to return to their home. - Occupy Homes

Around 6:30 a.m. this morning a large balloon banner reading “Evictions Stop Here” was deployed above the embattled home of the Cruz family as 15 supporters of the Cruz family began an occupation of the rooftop in protest of the family’s unjust foreclosure. By 8:30am two were cut out of a lockbox device with an electric saw, handcuffed, taken down a ladder and arrested for trespassing. The action kicks off a national day of action in 18 cities demanding PNC Bank negotiate with the family to allow them to return to their home. - Occupy Homes

Monsanto faced with paying farmers $7.5 billion (photo)June 20, 2012
In April, a Brazilian court ruled that Monsanto was responsible for repaying Brazilian farmers $7.5 billion after the corporation taxed small businesses into ruin & stripped farmers of their rightful income. More than five million farmers filed the lawsuit, which has now forced Monsanto to pay back taxes it has collected since 2004.  
Because Monsanto Roundup Ready soybeans are patented creations of the corporation, Monsanto charges an initial royalty on the sale of the crop produced, and a continuing royalty on every subsequent crop, even if the farmer is using a later generation of seed.
 Monsanto has appealed the decision, & the lawsuit has been suspended until the Justice Tribune of the local court starts the hearing in Rio Grande do Sul.

Monsanto faced with paying farmers $7.5 billion (photo)
June 20, 2012

In April, a Brazilian court ruled that Monsanto was responsible for repaying Brazilian farmers $7.5 billion after the corporation taxed small businesses into ruin & stripped farmers of their rightful income. More than five million farmers filed the lawsuit, which has now forced Monsanto to pay back taxes it has collected since 2004.  

Because Monsanto Roundup Ready soybeans are patented creations of the corporation, Monsanto charges an initial royalty on the sale of the crop produced, and a continuing royalty on every subsequent crop, even if the farmer is using a later generation of seed.

 Monsanto has appealed the decision, & the lawsuit has been suspended until the Justice Tribune of the local court starts the hearing in Rio Grande do Sul.

NY Governor Plans to Experiment with Fracking in Economically Struggling Areas

The plan is part of a demonstration project in which the DEC would issue permits for a limited number of wells in certain areas and then monitor the fracking to see if the process could be done safely. Critics are calling on the governor not to use the residents of these struggling territories as “guinea pigs.”

These struggling areas, which include Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Steuben and Tioga counties, make up what is known as the Southern Tier, a region in southwest New York that borders Pennsylvania, a state that allows fracking. This region lies on top of the Marcellus Shale, a rock formation stretching across the Appalachian Mountains to upstate and western New York, which is believed to contain a large supply of natural gas.

Source

June 17, 2012
A thousand No Fracking activists stormed the Ohio statehouse today calling for an end to fracking on their state. 
The demonstration came after Gov. John Kasich signed SB 315 into law last week, turning one of the worst fracking bills in America into the worst fracking laws.
Ohioans now know clearly where their representatives at all levels of state government stand – and unfortunately, most are choosing to stand with their donors in the oil and gas industry, rather than their constituents. Gov. Kasich himself has taken over $200,000 from the gas industry, and has now more than adequately repaid the favor.
SB 315 eliminates all public notice for fracking well permits, opens gaping loopholes in disclosure laws that allow fracking companies to keep toxic chemical cocktails secret from communities, establishes the lowest tax rates on the gas industry in the country, and gags doctors from discussing the health impacts of fracking.

June 17, 2012

A thousand No Fracking activists stormed the Ohio statehouse today calling for an end to fracking on their state. 

The demonstration came after Gov. John Kasich signed SB 315 into law last week, turning one of the worst fracking bills in America into the worst fracking laws.

Ohioans now know clearly where their representatives at all levels of state government stand – and unfortunately, most are choosing to stand with their donors in the oil and gas industry, rather than their constituents. Gov. Kasich himself has taken over $200,000 from the gas industry, and has now more than adequately repaid the favor.

SB 315 eliminates all public notice for fracking well permits, opens gaping loopholes in disclosure laws that allow fracking companies to keep toxic chemical cocktails secret from communities, establishes the lowest tax rates on the gas industry in the country, and gags doctors from discussing the health impacts of fracking.

Brazilian farmers sue Monsanto

June 4, 2012

Five million Brazilian farmers are locked in a lawsuit with US-based biotech giant Monsanto, suing for as much as 6.2 billion euros. They say that the genetic-engineering company has been collecting royalties on crops it unfairly claims as its own.

The farmers claim that Monsanto unfairly collects exorbitant profits every year worldwide on royalties from “renewal” seed harvests. “Renewal” crops are those that have been planted using seed from the previous year’s harvest. While the practice of renewal farming is an ancient one, Monsanto disagrees, demanding royalties from any crop generation produced from its genetically-engineered seed. Because the engineered seed is patented, Monsanto not only charges an initial royalty on the sale of the crop produced, but a continuing 2 per cent royalty on every subsequent crop, even if the farmer is using a later generation of seed.

"Monsanto gets paid when it sell the seeds. The law gives producers the right to multiply the seeds they buy and nowhere in the world is there a requirement to pay (again). Producers are in effect paying a private tax on production," Jane Berwanger, lawyer for the farmers told the Associated Press reports.

In the latest installment of the legal battle erupting in South America, the Brazilian court has ruled in favor of the Brazilian farmers, saying Monsanto owes them at least US$2 billion paid since 2004. Monsanto, however, has appealed the decision and the case is ongoing.

Source

2010 World GDPs in U.S. Dollars (photo)The U.S. ranks in at #1 with $14.59 trillion.
The U.S. also ranks in at the following:
#1 in military spending - $531 billion/year for military bases, $115 billion/year for overseas operations.
43rd in education expenditures, spending only 5.5% of the GDP on schools.
#2 in child poverty, behind Romania
#2 in debt, behind the European Union
One of the lowest corporate tax rates in the developed world.
37th in healthcare system quality.
50th in life expectancy at a low 78 years.

2010 World GDPs in U.S. Dollars (photo)

The U.S. ranks in at #1 with $14.59 trillion.

The U.S. also ranks in at the following:

  • #1 in military spending - $531 billion/year for military bases, $115 billion/year for overseas operations.
  • 43rd in education expenditures, spending only 5.5% of the GDP on schools.
  • #2 in child poverty, behind Romania
  • #2 in debt, behind the European Union
  • One of the lowest corporate tax rates in the developed world.
  • 37th in healthcare system quality.
  • 50th in life expectancy at a low 78 years.
Selling out schools - How Democrats & Republicans are bailing on the “great equalizer”
1. Unequal Funding FormulasAs a 2011 U.S. Department of Education report documented, “many high-poverty schools receive less than their fair share of state and local funding” leaving “students in high-poverty schools with fewer resources than schools attended by their wealthier peers.” This inequity is further exacerbated by local property-tax-based education funding formulas that often generate far more resources for wealthy high-property-value school districts than for destitute low-property-value enclaves. Inequality also intensified by devious new taxpayer-subsidized scholarship programs that, according to the New York Times, “have been twisted to benefit private schools at the expense of the neediest children” in traditional public schools.
2. Vouchers & Charter SchoolsStanford University’s landmark study of charters found that while “17 percent of charter schools reported academic gains that were significantly better than traditional public schools, 37 percent of charter schools showed gains that were worse than their traditional public school counterparts” — meaning that, in total, charters actually harm overall student achievement (those results were corroborated by the Education Department’s National Center on Education Statistics). Likewise, data from the nation’s largest voucher system prove that voucher-subsidized students do not systemically outperform students in traditional public school systems.
3. Fee-Based Public SchoolsIn Kansas, for instance, one school district has created a $90 across-the-board “participation fee” for all students in order to fund extracurricular activities. In Maryland, it’s special fees for Advanced Placement biology courses. And perhaps worst of all, in Colorado’s largest school district, administrators are throwing kids off school buses until their parents pay a stiff transportation fee.
The move to such regressive fees has been prompted by the conservative movement’s success in draining government of revenues; anti-tax politicians unwilling to embrace new levies; and communities refusing to embrace measures to make up for budget shortfalls. Left without resources, local school administrators have thus resorted to fees. As one Maryland school official put it: “The reality is that the money has to come from somewhere.”
4. Higher Education Tuition IncreasesFor much the same reason K-12 school administrators are moving their schools to fee-based models, public universities have been jacking up tuition rates at a pace that far outstrips inflation. In just the last year, for example, tuition at these institutions rose a whopping 8.3 percent as universities sought to make up for legislatures’ huge reductions in higher education funding.
At the same time, the New York Times reports that both private and public college scholarships have been cut. Additionally, as both Mitt Romney’s Wall Street-centric student loan initiative and Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget prove, federal loans and grants would only become more anemic in a Republican-dominated Washington.
The aggregate result of all this is to make access to higher education even more driven by economic privilege than it has been in the past. If your parents are wealthy and can pay ever higher tuition, you will have access to higher education, which gives you a better chance of higher wages. But if your parents aren’t wealthy and therefore can’t follow Mitt Romney’s request to lend you money, you either can’t go to college and will miss out on those opportunities for career advancement, or you are forced to assume crushing student debt (No doubt, free college in other industrialized nations is a big part of why those other nations have higher rates of social mobility and lower rates of economic inequality than the United States).
5. Differential Tuition Rates based on MajorIn 21st century America, math, science and business majors often make more money in the job market than their peers in other majors. In that sense, majoring in such subjects can be a means of moving up the economic ladder.
Unfortunately, more and more public universities are instituting regressive fees on those students who want to pursue those majors. As USA Today recently reported:
A growing number of public universities are charging higher tuition for math, science and business programs…
More than 140 public universities now use “differential tuition” plans, up 19% since 2006, according to research from Cornell’s Higher Education Research Institute. That number is increasing as states cut higher-education spending and schools try to pay for expensive technical programs.
Full article
A reminder: The People’s Record virtual book club on Education & Capitalism will begin on June 2.

Selling out schools - How Democrats & Republicans are bailing on the “great equalizer”

1. Unequal Funding Formulas
As a 2011 U.S. Department of Education report documented, “many high-poverty schools receive less than their fair share of state and local funding” leaving “students in high-poverty schools with fewer resources than schools attended by their wealthier peers.” This inequity is further exacerbated by local property-tax-based education funding formulas that often generate far more resources for wealthy high-property-value school districts than for destitute low-property-value enclaves. Inequality also intensified by devious new taxpayer-subsidized scholarship programs that, according to the New York Times, “have been twisted to benefit private schools at the expense of the neediest children” in traditional public schools.

2. Vouchers & Charter Schools
Stanford University’s landmark study of charters found that while “17 percent of charter schools reported academic gains that were significantly better than traditional public schools, 37 percent of charter schools showed gains that were worse than their traditional public school counterparts” — meaning that, in total, charters actually harm overall student achievement (those results were corroborated by the Education Department’s National Center on Education Statistics). Likewise, data from the nation’s largest voucher system prove that voucher-subsidized students do not systemically outperform students in traditional public school systems.

3. Fee-Based Public Schools
In Kansas, for instance, one school district has created a $90 across-the-board “participation fee” for all students in order to fund extracurricular activities. In Maryland, it’s special fees for Advanced Placement biology courses. And perhaps worst of all, in Colorado’s largest school district, administrators are throwing kids off school buses until their parents pay a stiff transportation fee.

The move to such regressive fees has been prompted by the conservative movement’s success in draining government of revenues; anti-tax politicians unwilling to embrace new levies; and communities refusing to embrace measures to make up for budget shortfalls. Left without resources, local school administrators have thus resorted to fees. As one Maryland school official put it: “The reality is that the money has to come from somewhere.”

4. Higher Education Tuition Increases
For much the same reason K-12 school administrators are moving their schools to fee-based models, public universities have been jacking up tuition rates at a pace that far outstrips inflation. In just the last year, for example, tuition at these institutions rose a whopping 8.3 percent as universities sought to make up for legislatures’ huge reductions in higher education funding.

At the same time, the New York Times reports that both private and public college scholarships have been cut. Additionally, as both Mitt Romney’s Wall Street-centric student loan initiative and Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget prove, federal loans and grants would only become more anemic in a Republican-dominated Washington.

The aggregate result of all this is to make access to higher education even more driven by economic privilege than it has been in the past. If your parents are wealthy and can pay ever higher tuition, you will have access to higher education, which gives you a better chance of higher wages. But if your parents aren’t wealthy and therefore can’t follow Mitt Romney’s request to lend you money, you either can’t go to college and will miss out on those opportunities for career advancement, or you are forced to assume crushing student debt (No doubt, free college in other industrialized nations is a big part of why those other nations have higher rates of social mobility and lower rates of economic inequality than the United States).

5. Differential Tuition Rates based on Major
In 21st century America, math, science and business majors often make more money in the job market than their peers in other majors. In that sense, majoring in such subjects can be a means of moving up the economic ladder.

Unfortunately, more and more public universities are instituting regressive fees on those students who want to pursue those majors. As USA Today recently reported:

A growing number of public universities are charging higher tuition for math, science and business programs…

More than 140 public universities now use “differential tuition” plans, up 19% since 2006, according to research from Cornell’s Higher Education Research Institute. That number is increasing as states cut higher-education spending and schools try to pay for expensive technical programs.

Full article

A reminder: The People’s Record virtual book club on Education & Capitalism will begin on June 2.