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US tax shortfalls have our public schools begging for donations

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Between Trump's massive tax-breaks for the super-rich and rules like California's disastrous Prop 13, our cities perennially cash-starved and have led to the erosion of the same public services that make cities attractive to businesses (for example, the subway, public education, roads, grid and other public services that made NYC so attractive to tax-dodging Amazon for its second headquarters). After coasting on New Deal fumes for 40 years since Reagan began the American oligarchic regression, cities are reaching a breaking-point, and parents of kids in public schools have become accustomed to a near-constant stream of fundraising emails and flyers brought home from school. Not only can this funding never bridge the shortfalls from austerity, but it converts public schools into a kind of semi-private school where hidden user-fees -- in the form of "donations" -- aren't really optional. Some teachers' unions have made corporate taxation a part of the debate over school cuts: the Saint Paul Federation of Teachers talks about the decline in taxation of Minnesota's largest corporations ("Thirty years ago, Bancorp, EcoLab, Travelers Insurance, 3M and Target were taxed at 13.6 percent. That rate has been cut to 9.8 percent. Wells Fargo paid $15 million less in 2014 than they paid in 1990, when the tax rate was 12 percent. In 2014, 10 corporations paid $31 million less than they did in earlier periods") and explicitly connects those tax giveaways to the budgetary shortfalls that harm the city's kids. It's not enough that corporations give back some of that money in the form of charitable donations: those donations always come with strings attached, shaping curriculum and activities to the priorities of corporate benefactors, and the funding can be withdrawn any time our public schools do work that cuts against the corporate agenda. Read the rest

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