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

Monday, December 28, 2015

Rigged Trade Deals, Corporate Core Standards, and Human Commodities

Every so often the corporate foundations and the billionaires need to reach way down in their nasty bag of tired tricks to come up with another smelly old chestnut aimed to infuriate teachers and raise the worry levels of the general public.  Their crass cures (more testing) for false problems are as predictable as their singular diagnosis (failed schools), which identifies the entirely predictable symptoms (low test scores) of a real problem (poverty) that remains entirely ignored by those with the resources to do something about it.

The low standardized test scores are entirely predictable without ever taking even one of the many standardized tests that are used as evidence that public schools have failed to prepare children to become assets to the corporations that pretend to have jobs for them after high school--if they had been prepared for them.  The sad truth, of course, is that there are fewer good jobs today for graduates than there were 10 or 20 or 30 years ago when test scores were no better than they are today.

This gets us to the real crux of the matter, which is entirely hidden in the NYTimes story yesterday that appeared above the fold on the front page.  This is no small mistake but, rather, a planned editorial decision that functions as a specific tactic for a larger strategy.

In the next few weeks, many subtle and not so subtle reminders will be broadcast far and wide as to why we should embrace the coming trade deal. which represents "the most brazen corporate power grab in American history."  Sure to be swept through Congress in the coming days, the TPP, the implicit argument goes, is at least partially needed because American schools are not readying enough human capital for the corporations to exploit.  If they were, American business would not need to send larger swaths of the remaining American jobs into the Eastern Pacific and the Far East, where workers will be exploited out of sight of American shoppers, who watch the video on their new phones of Asian workers jumping out of windows where their phones were made by what amounts to slave labor.

To do what is necessary to lay blame where there is none, a somewhat subtle rationale for sending even more jobs overseas is required. The phony rationale, of course, has everything to do with American graduates who are not "college and career ready." The way we know this, of course, is through "data," which comes from the same antiquated and racist tests that have been used for hundred years for social weeding and placing blame on a social institution (schools) that can never ever alter the conditions that are chiefly responsible for the vast gaps in scores between rich and poor.

At the same time, all the smug bastards from ExxonMobil or AT&T or Volvo are hedging their bets and ready to leap even deeper into the virgin Pacific Basin terrains for unregulated exploitation and economic wildcatting.  In the meantime, American schools will be blamed if and when the leap occurs.  Had we just done our job as educators, businessmen would not be burdened with establishing education policy and running our schools.  When will we ever understand how that works?

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