Wall Street Celebrate Bonuses, Schools Beg For Supplies

“My students are survivors–their very existence in my classroom is a statistical miracle. My 10th grade English class is full of inner city students who are the first in their families and communities to have any secondary schooling and are some of the few who dare to dream of college. Of the 60,000 people who have entered this inner city school in the past 40 years, 2,000 have graduated from college. My students will succeed as adults, but they need exposure to texts that dignify their interests and ability levels.

We need 40 copies of the classic text, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest to complete our study of survival and autonomy. These books will be shared by six classes and will service 150+ students this year alone. You will help my students “survive” their circumstances. Your donation will make them college ready, life ready, and ready to turn over a new leaf in their communities. You can make a difference in these kids’ lives.”

via DonorsChoose.org: We are Survivors

This is a plea from “Ms. H,” one of the teachers asking strangers for help at Donors Choose, an online charity that allows individuals to help students in need. The website hosts many similar requests for supplies like markers and paper. One post, titled, “Help We Have No  Library” reads, “My kids have to read and have no library!! I work in a high need community with 8th graders. I am trying to model how to read a chapter book to them however I don’t have enough books for the kids!”

Meanwhile, Wall Street firms continue to hand out tens of billions of dollars in fat bonuses to executives. It was President Obama’s pay czar, Kenneth Feinberg, who approved the compensation package for Robert Benmosche, the new CEO of taxpayer-owned AIG: $3 million in cash, $4 million in stock, and $3.5 million in annual performance bonuses for a grand total of $10.5 million.

Did I mention unemployment is 9.8 percent?

The Obama administration claims federal stimulus dollars have saved more than 250,000 teaching and education jobs this year. However, this claim fails to acknowledge the tens of thousands of other teachers who lost their jobs, budget cuts, unpaid furloughs, shortened school years, and overcrowded classes.

Schools barely have enough money to pay for chalk, and in the meantime, Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general for the government’s financial rescue program, claims Feinberg has limited jurisdiction over executive bonuses like the $198 million in bonus pay AIG has promised its employees by next March.

Barofsky calls the bonus quandary “a mess.” True that.

Banks and Wall Street firms (some of which prospered from the taxpayer-funded bailout) continue to make a killing from the economic catastrophe, while teachers and students suffer. It’s unsurprising, but sickening. The only question is: where is the outrage?

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– Allison Kilkenny


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