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

Monday, December 24, 2007

Why the Wall Street Journal Loves to Hate Public Education

A few newspapers (more foreign than domestic) carried stories this week on the record bonuses being carted off by Wall Street execs this Xmas season, just days after the Fed fed the quaking and corrupted banks fresh bundle of dough to make their holidays brighter and their complicity in the mortgage pyramid scheme seem a little less prominent. If they won't loan to each other, just let the Fed feed all of them, right?

Such good will toward corporate CEOs points up the reality of modern-day capitalism, where all the benefits are absorbed by insiders and all the risks are taken by outsiders: that is we, the outsider people, who function as the liability insurance policies for every failed scam that our MBA loan sharks can devise in order to rob from the working and the poor. That is how this Xmas season 2 million people are faced with losing their homes, while CEOs are receiving record bonuses despite the worst year in decades for shareholders:
(Long Island, N.Y.) Wall Street had its worst year in a decade but that didn’t effect bonus checks which rose 14 percent on average. You would have thought that the worst year in decades may have warrented no bonuses this year, but that just wasn’t the case at all.

Approximately 60 percent of the $49.6 billion in compensation the four biggest US investment banks will pay this year is for bonuses. That relates to approximately $30 billion in bonuses and that is only from Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., Bear Stearns Cos., and Morgan Stanley.

Interesting enough, investors that held these banks’ stocks this year saw them spiral down by practically 45 percent. And, the stocks have not quit falling. Investors surely can’t be happy with losing on their stocks while bank executives rake in their portion of $30 billion in bonuses. . . .

None of this is of interest to the Editorial Board of the once-great Wall Street Journal. In fact, they are focused this season, not on accountability for Wall Street scamming and outright thievery, but, rather, on making poor children and public employees accountable in the neglected and crumbling public schools of the Nation's Capitol.

In a fawning tribute to the new DC Schools Chancellor, Michelle Rhee, the WSJ did what it does best through its editorial pages: 1) divert attention from the excesses of a tornadic and rampaging consumer capitalism, 2) advance the interests of the Oligarchs of the corporate welfare state, and, 3) promote the virtues of selfishness at the expense of democratic institutions. And Michelle Rhee is a perfect acolyte. She is smart, ruthless, and blinded by her own naive zeal and iron ambition, qualities that recommended her in the first place to head up the destruction of public education in Washington, DC.

So while Michelle Rhee, egged on by a Mayor who is in the pocket of the plutocrats, finalizes plans for firing whomever she wishes and closing whatever schools she chooses, the WSJ Editorial Board celebrates accountability in action, individual choice in practice, and social justice on the move in DC. What they do not focus on (besides the corporate sewer that feeds them) is the dictatorial and anti-democratic seizing of power by the Mayor, the cheap charter chain gang schools that are offered as the only "choices" to crumbling and neglected public schools for poor children, or the marginal private schools or religious schools that are the only other "choices" for the children who have been handed annual vouchers that would buy 9 weeks of tuition in a top notch private school. And what does Rhee have to say?:
"For way too long in this country, choice in education was something that was reserved for rich people in the suburbs"

One has to wonder if she said that with a straight face. The WSJ editorial closing with this fawning flourish:

People have tried to get her to commit to a ratio of public schools to charter schools. Ms. Rhee won't play that game. "I don't enter this with defensiveness, about protecting [D.C. public schools'] share of the market. I believe we should proliferate what's working and close down what's not. Period."

She says she keeps hearing from worried city council members that some teachers and administrators are frightened of her. They are feeling pressure and that's a problem. Her answer? Get used to it. "I'm going to hold people accountable and I'm going to hold their feet to the fire. If they're feeling pressure--good! I feel pressure every day because I have the education of 49,000 kids in my hands."

And if she fails to deliver the pre-approved solution of disbanding the public schools, she might find herself teaching school again, who knows. Michelle Rhee could, indeed, become the new model public administrator, offering an exemplar on how to cross the unsteady moat into the protected castle of private privilege. She may, indeed, become the new poster girl for how to crush what is in your hand and below your boot in order to power your way to the Top.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:57 PM

    wow this post is full of so many insults that i honestly think it degrades the intelligence of anyone reading it