Sunday, May 01, 2016

Commodifying Public Education: How did this happen?

Learn more about this here

A shout of jubilation went up as teachers heard the announcement that we would not administer the final part of the TN Ready test this year.  I did not join in the celebration. I will not celebrate until we defeat this culture that relentlessly continues the march toward the destruction of public education. 

Over the past 30 years I have watched as people use the words, of our founding documents (words that I believe in) to destroy the very things the documents set forth.  We could start with their edited version of the preamble ---they would turn that paragraph into two simple phrases: We the People of the United States in order to insure domestic tranquility and provide for the common defense do ordain and establish this constitution of the United States. In their understanding this is the only purpose for government.   For a history of how this happened read this fine article by a Canadian, Dan Laitsch "Smacked by the invisible hand: the wrong debate, at the wrong time with the wrong people." 

While it focuses on education it exposes the subtle way in which words were manipulated by a group with an agenda.  Among the discarded ideals is that which states that everyone benefits from the success and education of all.  The idea which replaces it is that everyone must be accountable and responsible for themselves.  If they fail to get rich or get a good education or have access to healthcare or other services it is their fault because they made bad choices.  TRANSLATE everything that has happened in their lives is their fault.  I'm on board the personal responsibility train!  I spend a lot of my time as an educator helping kids become more responsible.  The problem comes for me when the interpretation is unrelenting and unforgiving.

This "neo-liberal economic philosophy" sees "Government" as an evil that should be limited whenever and wherever possible.  Government regulation is always bad because it decreases PROFIT. What would our world look like without government regulation and oversight?  Wealthy people whose money works to increase their wealth would fare well.  They would have access to everything they need in their gated communities.

For the rest of us, who "labor" for a salary or an hourly wage - not so much. HERE IS WHAT WE WOULD HAVE 

Food industry --- FOR PROFIT means --  no control over what is in the can you buy including pesticides and contaminants such as the little snake head in a recently opened can of green beans. 
Healthcare industry FOR PROFIT means -- continuing HMO-type care where you have less contact with a personal physician (who is limited to 15 minutes with you) and you are just a cog, a part, in a profit oriented system.
Insurance industry FOR PROFIT means -- they take your money BUT it is not pooled for your benefit, they will use it to hire people to deny your claims and keep you from getting money from the coverage for which you paid. This will increase their profit and pay their investors!
Education -- continued expenditures for publicly funded private schools - (charter schools) thousands of programs and software options over actual education expenditures.My school alone spends more than $12,000 a year on I-ready a software subscription which steals good education time and uses games to try to "improve" student performance on the test.  Thousands of tech companies eager to sell districts the latest and greatest gadgets (we have vendor fairs all the time so we can be exposed to the latest sales pitch)  Estimates of companies being able to garner billions in educational funds while my library languishes without proper space, furniture or computers for research is obscene!  Teachers should be replaced with programs which students can use to educate themselves -- gone is the common ground of what we as American's believe.....If you want to teach that the dinosaurs were put in the fossil record by Satan to confuse Christians --- you can do that in your private school -- but I resent my tax dollars going to that "education!"

Let's also think about some other areas where we traditionally share costs for mutual benefits -- Transportation - Museums---Parks and other public places are all headed for privatization with one goal in mind --  to make money --- We can stand by and watch the Disney-fication of our culture or we can elect people who are thinkers and who ferret out the truth rather than accept what the think tanks (propaganda mills) tell them!

If you want to understand how we got here and who has been driving the bus since the 1970's  read the article, It is long (25 pages) -- but some things cannot be said in 140 characters!

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