Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Slashing Education is Good for America

Huck/Konopacki Labor Cartoons
Public education always has and continues to be a means of social control, one with the specific function of perpetuating a status quo in which a tiny minority rules over the overwhelming majority in order to sequester increasing amounts of wealth. The hysteria over the deplorable state of our schools is a deliberate deception, as schools never really got worse at this function. They still reproduce a well-educated elite minority and vast numbers of poorly educated, compliant workers with just enough training to run their machines and offices and purchase their goods.

One goal of this deception is to convince the public that it is in their best interests to relinquish local control, and allow private companies to take over and turn a profit. Bill Gates, Arne Duncan, Michael Bloomberg, Broad, Walton, and others promulgate this trickery by repeatedly reminding us about terrible test scores and graduation rates, blaming it on recalcitrant and selfish unions, and promising us perfection if only more charter schools and corporate management were allowed. What’s good for Bill Gates is good for America.

Divide and Conquer
However, the deception is not just about privatization. As more and more tax dollars get diverted to wars, tax cuts and corporate bailouts, there is less available for social services, like education, and there needs to be a scapegoat other than Halliburton, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup. As children become more impoverished and consequently do poorer in school, and as schools lose funding and consequently provide fewer services, the schools and teachers (and occasionally the parents) get the blame for low student achievement, rather than the ruling elite who are the real culprits. It is classic divide and conquer: the public continues to support their bosses and the wealthy, some dreaming of joining their ranks, while attacking members of their own class, like teachers and other government workers, under the mistaken perception that they are the ones responsible for their misery. What’s good for Wall Street is good for America.

Downsizing and Streamlining
Huck/Konopacki Labor Cartoons
A more immediate goal of slashing education budgets is to obtain the same productivity from educators for less money, thus freeing up tax dollars for more important needs (like bailouts and tax cuts for the wealthy). The same numbers of children must still be taught. The same delusional outcomes are still required, such as 100% proficiency on NCLB exams by 2014. Yet all this must occur with fewer teachers, custodians, nurses, librarians and money. Worse, those who are lucky enough to still have their jobs are expected to do more despite this reduction in funding. They must do their own jobs, plus those of their former colleagues who were fired, furloughed or not replaced. Additionally, they must work harder and longer to create and implement new programs that are supposed to raise test scores. What’s good for the boss, is good for America.

Business as Usual
The transfer of wealth from the public to the ruling elite (through tax cuts, subsidies and bailouts, all financed by cutting programs that help the poor and working class) should be seen as evidence of the true nature of our economy and the political system that serves it. The interests of banks, speculators and the war machine are far more urgent and necessary than the needs of regular people, especially teachers and students. After all, both parties have supported continued military funding, corporate bailouts and tax cuts for the rich, while allowing or promoting cuts to education, Medicare, food stamps, and social security. The notion of political expediency, the “stalemate” in D.C., the “necessary” compromises that must occur as a “natural” part of our political system, are all cover-ups: the corporate rulers run the show and make the decisions. Politicians who even consider not playing by their rules not only lose their office, they lose all hope of a cushy corporate job after being termed out. Their interests are the same as corporate interests

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