Friday, February 25, 2005

Why is public education being attacked?

Read this entire speech, given back in 1997 by David Stratman, and then you can decide whether to be blown away or hide your head in the sand.

Stratman dared to pull all the pieces together about what's going on in public education policy almost 8 years ago. I think the whole picture he paints makes complete sense as we see that some of the strongest cheerleading and unconditional love for NCLB comes from the corporate Dems, the DLC.
The reason that public education is under attack is this: our young people have more talent and intelligence and ability than the corporate system can ever use, and higher dreams and aspirations than it can ever fulfill. To force young people to accept less fulfilling lives in a more unequal, less democratic society, the expectations and self-confidence of millions of them must be crushed. Their expectations must be downsized and their sense of themselves restructured to fit into the new corporate order, in which a relative few reap the rewards of corporate success-defined in terms of huge salaries and incredible stock options-and the many lead diminished lives of poverty and insecurity.

If my analysis is correct, it means that you-public educators, every person in this room, and all the staff and colleagues you have worked with these many years-you are under attack not because you have failed -which is what the media and the politicians like to tell you. You are under attack because you have succeeded-in raising expectations which the corporate system cannot fulfill.

They are also attacking education for a second reason: Blaming public education is a way of blaming ordinary people for the increasing inequality in society. It is a way of blaming ordinary people for the terrible things that are happening to them. The corporate leaders and their politician friends are saying that, if our society is becoming more unequal, if millions don't have adequate work or housing or health care, if we are imprisoning more of our population than any other country on earth, it is not because of our brutal and exploitative economic system and our atomized society and our disenfranchised population. No, they say, it is not our leaders or our system who are at fault. The fault lies with the people themselves, who could not make the grade, could not meet the standards. According to the corporate elite, the American people have been weighed in the balance, and they have been found wanting.
And his thoughts on raising standards:
There is a world of difference between raising our "expectations" for students and raising "standards." Raising our expectations means raising our belief in students' ability to succeed and insuring that all the resources are there to see that they do. Raising standards means erecting new hoops for them to jump through.


Establishing a statewide core curriculum and curriculum frameworks can be very useful steps toward educational quality and equity. My limited conversations with teachers who have seen these frameworks in various disciplines, however, lead me to think that they are being established at unrealistic levels that will assure massive student failure.
On the goals of public education:
At the heart of the public education system, there is a conflict over what goals it should pursue. On one side stand educators and parents and students, who wish to see students educated to the fullest of their ability. On the other side stand the corporate and government elite, the masters of great wealth and power. Their goal is not that students be educated to their fullest potential, but that students be sorted out and persuaded to accept their lot in life, whether it be the executive suite or the unemployment line, as fitting and just. The goal of this powerful elite for the public schools is that inequality in society be legitimized and their hold on power reinforced. This conflict is never acknowledged openly, and yet it finds its way into every debate over school funding and educational policy and practice, and every debate over education reform.
I have long wondered exactly, why is the Business Roundtable, the group of corporate entities networked at the state level, so closely involved in education?

Remember also that the head of the Carlysle group has been ominously involved in public education policy for a very long time. The putative purpose: so that we'll have better 21st century workers.

I think this goes back to what BushCo said in a debate once, another era ago: NCLB is a jobs program to better prepare workers for the 21st century jobs. Yes, I see, I see.

It's to better prepare us to work at all those slave drudgery jobs, so that we the sheeple will unquestioningly live our lives of insecurity and poverty for generations to come.

It's all becoming quite clear to me now. I think what Stratman said 8 years ago is absolutely spot on. I think it is imperative to pass this speech on to all, your friends, family, acquaintances.