autumn hug wallpaper
When Fall Comes To New England
Words And Music By: Cheryl Wheeler
When fall comes to new england
The sun slants in so fine
And the air’s so clear
You can almost hear the grapes grow on the vine
The nights are sharp with starlight
And the days are cool and clean
And in the blue sky overhead
The northern geese fly south instead
And leaves are Irish Setter red
When fall comes to New England
America 101 by Bill Moyers
One morning I opened The New York Times to read that tuition at Manhattan’s elite private schools had reached $26,000 a year, starting in kindergarten. On that same page was another story about a school in Mount Vernon, just across the city line from the Bronx, where 97 percent of the students are black and 90 percent of those are so impoverished they are eligible for free lunches. During Black History month, a six-grader researching Langston Hughes could not find a single book by Hughes in the library. This wasn’t an oversight: There were virtually no books relevant to black history in that library. Most of the books on the shelves date back to the l950s and l960s. A child’s primer on work begins with a youngster learning to be a telegraph delivery boy!
It has taken constant litigation to bring to light this chronic neglect of basic learning in poor communities. Just seven years ago, in 1999, the Department of Education said that $127 billion was needed to bring “the nation’s school facilities into good overall condition.” The National Education Association put the figure at $268 billion—that’s just to make sure our kids are physically safe, 28 or 30 or even 32 or more to a classroom. Now the New York State Court of Appeals has ruled that the New York City school system alone is due approximately $15 billion “to provide students with their constitutional right to the opportunity to receive a sound basic education.”
Surely this inexcusable underinvestment is one significant reason why, despite our national wealth and GDP which are higher than virtually all of Europe combined, American students as a whole fare so poorly compared to their counterparts in other advanced countries. In 2003, the United States ranked 24th out of 29 advanced countries in combined mathematical literacy, according to the Program for International Student Assessment. A better ranking in combined reading literacy—15th out of 27 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries in 2000—might be counted a success when compared to our abysmal math performance, but this can hardly be comforting if we consider that students are performing significantly better in countries without America’s vast wealth.
The neglect of urban education – a capital moral offense in its own right – is but a symptom of what is happening in America. We are retreating from our social compact all down the line.
Our country is falling apart. Literally. Last year (2005) the American Society of Civil Engineers issued a report on our crumbling infrastructure. The engineers said we are “failing to maintain even substandard conditions” in our highway system – with significant economic effects. Poor road conditions cost motorists $54 billion a year in repairs and operating costs, and the 3.5 billion hours per year Americans spend stuck in traffic, costs the economy more than $67 billion annually in lost productivity and wasted fuel.
The report said the country’s power grid is likewise “in urgent need of modernization” as maintenance spending on transmission facilities has declined 1 percent annually since 1992, while growth in demand has risen 2.4 percent annually over the same period. In 2002, the Department of Energy warned that system “bottlenecks” due to transmission constraints were adding to consumer costs and threatening blackouts. The next August (2003) a blackout blanketed the Midwest and Northeast (and parts of Canada), leaving 50 million people in the dark, some for days, costing billions of dollars in lost commerce and production.
Even our much-touted technological superiority is in doubt. As my colleagues and I reported on my most recent PBS special – “The Net at Risk “– Asian and European countries have raced ahead of us in broadband speed – pushing America from 4th to 12th place on the information superhighway. The Japanese, for example, have near-universal access to high-speed broadband connections, averaging 16 times faster than U.S. connections at a much lower cost.
Connect the dots: Neglected schools, crumbling roads, permanent environmental “dead zones,” inadequate emergency systems, understaffed hospitals, library cutbacks, the lack of affordable housing, incompetent government agencies, whether it is FEMA or state bureaucracies charged with protecting helpless children – these are characteristic features of our public sector today.
It is little wonder that there has been some internet chatter about drafting Bill Moyers as a presidential candidate. He gets it. And this in no way should what he is saying be construed as some great new giveaway series of programs, he see the problems with education and infrastructure as many of us do, as investments in the future. Aren’t we better off now investing pennies on the dollar to get everyone a great education and job skills rather then have a permanent underclass. It is amazing that so many Americans pay so little heed to lazy stupid corporate executives rake in unearned millions, yet get petulant over spending literally a few pennies out of every tax dollar to get our nation and the working class up to where it should be.