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

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Age of the Education Oligarchs: Nip It in the Bud

Last updated: 12:55 pm

(U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and the misanthropist Eli Broad at an inauguration party courtesy of Broad (and the taxpayers). (Via Flickr))

The many millions that the neo-liberal oligarchs have pumped into the Democratic Party Machine have paid off handsomely in every area of government, especially education. Darling-Hammond, the only Obama advisor who had any understanding of education issues and educational solutions (as distinct from business solutions), was banished early on in favor of the Harvard business guys, economists, lawyers, recycled sychophants from the Clinton years, testing industry leeches, and most importantly, the new superclass of education entrepreneurial parasites and tax evaders, who have their non-profits and foundations in place to launder their hoarded, dirty money so that American taxpayers will end up funding the planned takeover of public schools for corporate interests.

Education by and for the oligarchs is intended to be achieved while making the education-industrial complex deliriously wealthy for putting in place a system that drains any remaining creativity from the schools and for instituting an oppressive, omnipresent surveillance system so that students and teachers are monitored K-20. The most galling part of all this is that the inherent evil of this neo-fascism is shrouded for its perpetrators and press offices by a rosy, inpenetrable fog of arrogance, hubris, and an overweaning air of unacknowledged privilege and superiority. What tiny bit of liberal guilt or glimmer of awareness that does register to this new superclass of super A-holes is quickly glossed over, then, by a bullying rhetoric that has been only slightly tweaked since the recent reign of the Decider.

Remember when Bush attacked anyone who might resist the inherently classist and racist testing plans as engaging in the bigotry of low expectations? Well, that sentiment survives and takes on new life in the Age of the Education Oligarchs, as recently evidenced in the speech by the new President of the ASCD corporation, who promises to maintain the advertising campaign to have educators drink another cup of Kool-Aid:
. . . .We can foster a world in which learning transcends geographic and cultural barriers.
A world in which poverty caused by economic conditions and poverty of racial inequities, and the most sinister of all, the poverty of low expectations - all can be overcome by learning. . . .
And so it goes--if your homeless students aren't learning like Seth and Caitlin or the Obama girls, well, there is something you need to fix about your expectations, Mr. Teacher Man.

Meanwhile, the same strategy of lying about the public schools continues, too, under the new regime. FactCheck.org is now in the game:
Last year, the president touted U.S. gains in education, saying that our "fourth- and eighth-graders achieved the highest math scores on record." He bragged that "African-American and Hispanic students posted all-time highs." Last week, the president said those eighth-graders weren't so great at math after all. He claimed they had "fallen to ninth place" in the world, and he bemoaned a high school dropout rate that had "tripled" over three decades.

What a difference a year makes.

Last year President Bush was talking up improvements that had occurred since his No Child Left Behind Act was implemented. This year President Obama is making a case for spending more on teachers' salaries, early education and more as part of his new agenda. We certainly wouldn't argue that education can't be improved, but some of the figures Obama used painted a bleaker picture than actually exists:

The high school dropout rate hasn't "tripled in the past 30 years," as Obama claimed. According to the Department of Education, it has actually declined by a third.

Eighth-grade math scores haven't "fallen" to ninth place compared with other countries. U.S. scores have climbed to that ranking from as low as 28th place in 1995.

Obama also set a goal "of having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world" by 2020. But in terms of bachelor's degrees, we're nearly there. The U.S. is already second only to Norway in the percentage of adults age 25 to 64 with a four-year degree, and trails by just 1 percentage point. . . .
It is unfortunate for Broad, Gates, Dell, the Waltons, and Fisher, etc. that their ascendancy would come at a time when the bankruptcy of their Greed Model has come into sharp relief against a world of struggling workers and unemployed people living in tents. And yet the U. S. Department of Education still doesn't get it, for it reflects more every day a single viewpoint that has been entrusted to the rapacious raptors of unrestrained greed who continue to feed on American taxpayers, while ensconsing themselves in the highest seats of political power.

But exposure, alone, will do nothing to stop the imminent takeover. This will take something equivalent to everyone in America stopping payment on everything. The politicians had best pay attention--denial of any authority, i. e., anarchy, is not so far-fetched, and the anger that was building during the 8 years of Bush is ready to explode on an already-out-of-touch Adminstration that believes it can play the same tune, only faster. A clip form Matt Taibbi's piece in Rolling Stone that is a must read:

. . . .People are pissed off about this financial crisis, and about this bailout, but they're not pissed off enough. The reality is that the worldwide economic meltdown and the bailout that followed were together a kind of revolution, a coup d'état. They cemented and formalized a political trend that has been snowballing for decades: the gradual takeover of the government by a small class of connected insiders, who used money to control elections, buy influence and systematically weaken financial regulations.

The crisis was the coup de grâce: Given virtually free rein over the economy, these same insiders first wrecked the financial world, then cunningly granted themselves nearly unlimited emergency powers to clean up their own mess. And so the gambling-addict leaders of companies like AIG end up not penniless and in jail, but with an Alien-style death grip on the Treasury and the Federal Reserve — "our partners in the government," as Liddy put it with a shockingly casual matter-of-factness after the most recent bailout.

The mistake most people make in looking at the financial crisis is thinking of it in terms of money, a habit that might lead you to look at the unfolding mess as a huge bonus-killing downer for the Wall Street class. But if you look at it in purely Machiavellian terms, what you see is a colossal power grab that threatens to turn the federal government into a kind of giant Enron — a huge, impenetrable black box filled with self-dealing insiders whose scheme is the securing of individual profits at the expense of an ocean of unwitting involuntary shareholders, previously known as taxpayers. . . .

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:57 AM

    Whether you agree with the President's plans for education reform, it is critical that you let him know!

    Visit EDVOTERS.ORG and sign the petition today!