February 26th, 2009
11:59 PM ET

Do our public schools need a bailout?

Editor's Note: Watch Randi Kaye’s full report tonight on Anderson Cooper 360 at 10 PM.
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Randi Kaye | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

How would you feel if your child came home from school with a request he or she return the next day with paper towels and toilet paper? Yes, toilet paper!

Can you imagine? That’s how bad it got for one public school in Detroit. The district, like so many others around the country, is out of money so it’s asking parents to send much needed items like that to school. We looked at schools across the country that are broken and crumbling. In Miami, they are so overcrowded that students are learning in temporary trailers on the playground. In Ohio, just outside Cleveland, a school superintendent sent a letter to then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson asking for $100 million to help save his district which has 1200 students crammed into a building that was made to hold 800 students. In that district, maintenance closets have been turned into classrooms. It’s that bad! And did you hear about the teacher in San Diego who started selling “ad space” on his exams to help pay for the paper it cost to print the tests themselves? Parents were buying the ad space to help. He raised about $600.

How did it get so bad? Well schools get money, in part, from taxes and because of this economic slump, property taxes are way down, so the states are facing deficits and the schools aren’t getting the precious tax dollars they need.

But the good news for public schools is the new stimulus package just approved should pump about $100 billion into their budgets. How much each state gets is determined by the population of school-age children but at this point, many districts will take anything they can!

I went to a school in Yonkers, New York today, not far from Manhattan, where scaffolding and plastic has been holding up a crumbling roof for years. The school can’t afford to replace it. That is all they can do to keep the concrete roof from collapsing on the students.

Did things really have to get this bad?

Filed under: 360° Radar • Bailout Turmoil • Education • Randi Kaye
soundoff (53 Responses)
  1. Amelie Griffiths

    K12 education is always the best,;'

    July 25, 2010 at 9:08 am |
  2. Billy Johns

    Public schools in Detroit only have themselves to blame as their people ran every good citizen out of the city. America should stop blaming our school problems on our teachers. The solution is to require all parents to volunteer 40 hours per year in their kid's classroom. Make them keep order and act as a teacher's aid. If your kid gets in trouble, require an additional 40 hours of volunteer time in the classroom. American can't continue to provide a free ride for all of our welfare mothers. Also, start a curfew in all ghetto areas and require everyone under 21 to be at home between 9pm – 6am.

    Other fix requires Mr. Obama to be a real leader and pass legislation immediately requiring marriage before young people populate the world with more children. Another great suggestion comes from the true hero Ann Coulter who suggests teaching teen girls to cross their legs when in the company of boys.

    Finally, Pamela needs to thank President Bush for all the great things he did for our country. He is a true America and could give many, many, many lessons to our current administration. Thanks to "Fox News" for reporting the true unbiased news and for not throwing our republican candidates under the bus. Please learn from your mistakes and let's elect a Republican President next time if we have a system in place after the Democratic liberals in Washington are finished.

    If you like my perfect grammar, thank a public school teacher!!!

    March 17, 2009 at 10:25 pm |
  3. Bubba Jones

    What happened to the guy's post about the Fed Reserve Chairman and the schoolgirl from Obama's address? You know – both being from the small SC town of Dillon? Was it true? I guess it didn't get past the news blog approval guru? Did Bernake attend that school? or did any of his children or relatives? Ha! 360 is a too funny – with the little news snippets. Just so very entertaining to see the news polished in a squeaky clean wrapper.

    February 27, 2009 at 12:49 pm |
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