When Wall Street destroys hope

There have been more than a few jokers on Wall Street who made over a billion dollars in a year as “hedge fund traders.” If you wonder where your home values went, your pension money went, or why your city can’t figure out how to pay for street lights- if your IQ is bigger than your shoe size, you should be able to put two and two together and realize you’ve been robbed.

For what would be less than rounding error on these men’s tax returns, a charter school that has been transforming lives and keeping young men and women out of prison and poverty for 20 years is going to close.

ISUS (Improved Solutions for Urban Systems) was the first alternative charter school in Dayton. Run by one tough woman, Ann Higdon, she created a high school for kids who weren’t doing well in a regular school- or had already dropped out, where kids would learn, hands on, how to build and repair homes. They even had a modular home assembly line in the building. She was a bit of a celebrity on the vocational education circuit and has won numerous awards.

The school stayed in business partially based on profits from selling the homes that the students built. Thanks to the Wall Street meltdown, that model broke.
For the lack of buyers, 200 kids (at one point the school had over 300 students) and a staff of 38 will be on the street next year. The building- which the frugal Ann never bothered to buy a proper sign for, is about to be auctioned off.

If you calculate the difference between a lifetime of crime or welfare for the kids she’s trained and the benefit to society from having these kids with real skills and jobs- over 20 years, for 100 kids per year- that’s 2,000 kids you won’t have to pay for a lifetime of food stamps or prison bills.

What did we get from the wizards of Wall Street? Where was the trickle down?

Or- if we stopped allowing our political offices to be sold to the highest bidders- we could put $1 million down on saving this worthwhile program- instead of donating to the Romney campaign.

There is one quote in the DDN story on ISUS worth repeating:

“What ISUS is focusing on is, ‘Where is the support coming from?’ ” she said. “I think ISUS is too good of an idea to give up on.”

via $2M debt ?to close charter school.

ISUS was a proven program that worked. It was an education program that saved us money. It was one of the great things in Dayton that most of us hardly knew was there and now it’s going to be gone.

This is why Wall Street needs real regulation. This is why we need to stop believing that spending billions on elections will buy us good government or that it’s free speech, when it in fact makes political speech extremely expensive and carefully worded.

Dayton Public Schools would do well to try to absorb ISUS and find a way to put it back in business- but they too are cash strapped.

It’s sad that we can find money in our national budget to keep the C27J or continue on the road to reckless spending on the F-35 and spend trillions on Afghanistan, but can’t find the money to keep a school open.

It’s also insane that David Tepper of Appaloosa Management, made $4 billion in 2009 on Wall Street- as our economy collapsed.

If there is still justice in America, I’m not seeing it.

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