Mary Anne Hering, candidate for the Working Class Party of Michigan in 2022, spoke at the party's convention on November 19, 2023.
A recording and transcription of her speech are reproduced below.
In previous campaigns I ran for state board of education.
There's a war that is being carried out against children. In this country it is a war on public education, social services, and other services; and it destroys the minds, the spirit, the socialization, the health, and the hope of our children.
At the same time there are wars being waged in the world. In particular right now there is a war in Gaza where kids, even newborns, are being destroyed physically.
If Gaza is the one we see right now, we have to understand that there are wars all through Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Central and Latin America that are every bit as horrible and destructive to children, but the U.S. media ignores them.
Almost every one of those wars is funded one way or another by the United States. Some also get money from other big powers linked with the U.S. Britain, France, Saudi Arabia, for example. But the biggest amount of money comes from the U.S. government. The U.S. spends more on its military than the next nine countries spend combined.
That money is robbed from the money we pay in taxes.
It's robbed from public education.
It's robbed from health care.
It's robbed from housing.
It's robbed from access to food.
The killing of children in Gaza and what is happening to children in this country are tied together by a huge transmission belt that sends billions of dollars from this country to carry out wars like in Gaza, where children are harmed and killed in these wars.
At the same time, it harms the children of this country, just in another way. This government takes money from education to give to wars.
So, what do working class families and their children face?
There aren't enough teachers so kids can't get the needed attention and instruction, so they don't learn. There aren't enough buses, so kids can't get to school. Funds are cut from school lunches, so kids go hungry.
And we can't forget the steep increase in mental health problems among children, including suicides.
All of these problems should be a signal that public education needs many more resources, yet this government takes the money away and funnels it to wars.
When it comes to public education and all other human service needs, it's the same old story over and over again: Politicians say there is not enough money for the schools, not enough money to fund childcare, not enough money for food stamp benefits, yet politicians can find nearly a trillion dollars and more to spend on the military every year.
So, parents and communities are expected to fundraise or pay extra taxes, millages, you've heard of those, to hire enough janitors to clean the schools or bus drivers to take the kids to school. Teachers are expected to dig deep into their pockets to buy books or cleaning supplies. Grandparents and even great-grandparents are expected to do childcare because funds for early childcare are cut out. And people in charge of schools have to find the funds and are forced to go to the government and beg each year.
Recently the Detroit school superintendent of the public schools went before the Michigan legislature. He essentially argued that funds for special ed, at-risk students and English language learners be channeled and moved over into basic core instruction.
It's essentially the same game each year: Just move the money around that is inadequate, move that around. Rob from one set of programs this year in order to cover another.
We sit in the middle of the biggest empire, and it's built on going to wars in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa.
Obviously, this cannot serve us.
We pay an enormous price that has hemorrhaged the well-being of our children while at the same time it kills the children of Gaza and in other countries in these wars.
This system we live in, capitalism, wages war against the working class all over the world. Living in the belly of the beast, the US, we have to understand the direct links that tie the problems we face here to the horrific problems ordinary people face all over the world.
Today the focus is on the war in Gaza, but there are wars still going on in Ukraine, in Yemen, in Sudan, in Syria, funded by the US government, which at the same time carries out a war on our standard of living in this country.
In all these wars, it is the children who suffer the most.
Next year we're going to run working class party candidates. We have to keep in mind not just that there isn't enough money going to what it is we need in this country as far as public education and health care and other human services. We have to pay attention to where the money is going and we say that children, all children, should be our first priority.