"A child's learning is the funtion more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Dutko Worldwide and the Promotion of Corporate Socialism

Since leaving his post as Deputy Secretary of Education under Paige, where he served as a well-oiled conduit for hundreds of millions of dollars in federal grants to his friends on the Education Leaders Council and other cronies in the education reform industry, Gene Hickok has moved on to a multi-national consulting firm that helps corporations to make money, not from selling or making things, but by "partnering" with governments to build corporate empires by using public revenue streams. Dutko's web page puts it succinctly:
In the public policy process, success requires victory in the campaign of ideas. Those who prevail utilize a range of techniques to convince others that they are right. Our job is to help them identify and leverage the tools needed to win.
Tools, indeed. Gene Hickok is one of those tools with the tools today, now using his extensive connnections and greased palms in a national campaign to replace the public schools with vouchers and a new type of school company that remains funded by tax dollars while being run by corporations who earn a profit for their stockholders. In an op-ed in the Moonie Washington Times, Hickok and fellow Dutkoian, Gary Andres, use Hurricane Katrina (yes, you heard that right) to make the case for vouchers and corporate welfare schools as a way to help the impoverished parents and children of New Orleans. Hurricanes are not all bad when there is opportunity to make a buck, or at least a few hundred million of them:
. . . . Congress should also conduct hearings to explore other obstacles New Orleans and other areas rebuilding face [sic]. Lawmakers should shine a bright light on what works and what doesn't, and remove ramparts to reform.

Education in this country is at a crossroads. There is great and important work to be done. America is falling behind other nations, and our students and our country will pay a terrible price for this. Important reforms, such as President Bush's No Child Left Behind, have made somewhat of a difference; primarily by focusing our attention on results and awakening Americans to just how bad things are. But it will take bold, creative and imaginative thinking to produce change. And it will require an opportunity that allows us to get beyond tinkering with the status quo if we are ever to going to provide America's children with the education they deserve and need.

Those of us who cleaned chalkboards know how hard it is to wipe the slate clean. New Orleans has a once-in-a-lifetime chance to do just that for its kids. The Big Easy can show the way to other big cities facing hard choices.

Today the New York Times ran a story on the fading hopes that the aftermath of Katrina might create a new sense of civic purpose to finally focus on poverty as the root problem of so many other problems, including educational disadvantage and differences in achievement. Hickok's piece above makes it clear that there is no disaster that will get in the way of the ideological steamroller that the neo-cons have set in motion. Every reality, regardless of its tragic proportions, will be converted to serve the causes of corporate socialism and crony politics in the multitude of separate, yet equally disgusting, manifestations that we have now come to expect from the clear and unapolegetic exercise of unrestrained greed.

Robert Greenstein summed it well in the NY Times piece:
We've gone from a situation in which we might have a long-overdue debate on deep poverty to the possibility, perhaps even the likelihood, that low-income people will be asked to bear the costs. I would find it unimaginable if it wasn't actually happening.

3 comments:

  1. Tactics of an Evil Empire

    In the Times article, it struck me how the word "failure" is being used by the neo-cons to attack liberal policies (nothing new, I know). This strategy, along with other BIG LIES like "blaming" liberal policies for poverty, unfortunately seem to be resonating. They say, "cutting taxes for the wealthy is the best way to reduce poverty." I'm not quite sure what planet these people are living on (planet Greed maybe)--but in a sci-fi movie these people would constitute the Evil Empire.

    The rhetoric being used here ties directly into the same rhetoric and messages associated with NCLB -the message that public schools are "failing" and the strategy of "blaming" the schools and teachers for the problems in education is being used to destroy them. They sure are consistent.

    As NCLB moves towards reauthorization, the "failure" and penalties associated with AYP, MUST be removed from the legislation. AYP was originally created under Clinton but there were no penalties or failure labels associated with it.(I wonder what Clinton thinks about this or if even thinks about it). The term "failing schools" and the penalties that found their way into the bill is the torpedo aiming to blow up the world as we know it.

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