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Posted at 11:10 AM ET, 12/17/2010

Another sign of American decline?

By Matt Miller

On the Today Show Friday, American Express gave a million dollars to Donors Choose, the nonprofit that lets teachers seek funding for school projects, supplies and initiatives they otherwise can't afford. It's a sexy charity that gets lots of buzz and does much good work, I'm sure -- letting citizens scour the site for projects they're interested in sponsoring via small donations is creative and wonderful.

And yet...something about the entire enterprise depresses me. Seeing Amex's smiles and oversized check atop news this week that the Los Angeles school board will allow schools reeling from years of budget cuts to seek corporate sponsorship for sports and arts facilities, it all strikes me as markers of American decline. What kind of country relies on these mechanisms to deliver what most would say are the basics of decent public education? Wouldn't an alternative be to figure out what we think decent schooling involves, and then actually find sensible ways to fund that (and to cut other spending in the education blob that doesn't fit the bill)? Especially in California, where we've gone from near the top in per-pupil funding (and school quality) three decades ago to near the bottom among states today (and abysmal achievement), the prospect of middle school soccer fields "brought to you by Nike" doesn't exactly make you think our best years lay ahead.

By Matt Miller  | December 17, 2010; 11:10 AM ET
Categories:  Miller  | Tags:  Matt Miller  
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The first step toward repairing our educational system is to stop allowing the professional athletic franchises to use our public schools as farm teams.

No school system should be funding football, basketball, or any other franchised team "game."

Sell the stadia and the lands they sit upon. Use the proceeds for textbooks, and teachers' salaries.

Posted by: slenon | December 17, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, but without the high school sports, the people who have to be dragged kicking and screaming to the ballot box to OK school funding would have no reason to "throw money at the educational system" at all. They would allow the schools to completely shut down.

Yes, I know what this implies. If Americans have no interest in their schools, then Americans have no interest in the future of their country.

Posted by: michael_chaplan | December 18, 2010 8:11 AM | Report abuse

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