By George Donnelly
Feb 17, 2011
Another revolution is brewing, but in an unlikely place: Wisconsin. Teachers are on strike, classes canceled, in protest of a state government plan to cut their benefits and weaken their unions. The governor says the cuts are necessary to balance the state budget. Given the bankrupt state of government finances across the country, I don’t doubt him. The teachers have a valid complaint as well. Teachers do important work. Given the falling value of the dollar and stagnant wages over the last 40 years, any cut can seriously impact their standard of living.
What’s the solution? Spin schools off. No, don’t privatize them to corporations looking to make a buck off of replacing teachers with TVs and videotapes. No, mutualize them. The teachers, the staff, the students and parents are the ones using the school. They own it. Whoever is using it should decide how to run it. How will teachers be paid? The students and/or their parents can pay them. Simultaneously, the local governments must reduce the sales, property and/or income tax burden so that parents actually have funds with which to cover the new school bills.
What happens when parents want to pay less or teachers want to earn more? They can negotiate. There will be a balance of power, unlike in the current situation where the government holds most of the cards. So negotiations are more likely to proceed in good faith. What if a deal is reached by majorities on each side that the minorities can’t live with? The minorities are free to go to other schools or start their own. That’s the beauty of direct action.
See any problems with this scenario? Let me know in the comments.