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

Monday, December 25, 2006

Competing in the Global Economy

Some argue the reason we should maintain the testing hysteria in schools is to make sure children grow up able to compete in the global economy. There is some logic to this, but it is such an indirect and time-consuming syllogism. It requires, in fact, years of reverse engineering and retooling that, in the end, turn thinking, autonomous organisms (children) into command-sensitive robots (workers), ready to do anything required, without complaint, for the greater good of global economic dominance by a handful of ultra-rich robber barons with a single loyalty to lucre. Work hard, be nice.

On the other hand, there seem to be some things we could do quickly and without abusing children in order to compete in the global economy. Let us count the ways:

Americans could produce the energy-efficient cars that Americans and other citizens of the world want to drive. The American auto industry is so tied up by Big Oil that a fealty to gas guzzling machines has now jeopardized the futures of millions of American workers. Solution in Michigan? More and harder tests in the schools.

The American energy industry could develop energy alternatives that produce the safe, cheap, and renewable energy that Americans and other citizens of the world want to use. Instead, we have an energy industry so wedded to the quick and oily dollar that it has jeopardized the future of the planet, while allowing other countries to gain the edge in carbon-neutral technologies. Solution: More testing on a national level, and control of university research by the corporationists who are melting Mother Earth.

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