Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Under Seige

Very few, if any, urban public school systems have been spared from the pompous neo-liberal mentality of today’s education reform cabal.

Beware: Do NOT confuse the term “neo-liberalism” with “social liberalism.” There is NO connection.

Neo-liberalism is an economic theory that outlines a set of policies which support and promote the economic system of capitalism. According to CorpWatch, the main points of neo-liberalism include:

  • THE RULE OF THE MARKET. Liberating "free" enterprise or private enterprise from any bonds imposed by the government [Reduce wages by de-unionizing workers and eliminating workers' rights].
  • CUTTING PUBLIC EXPENDITURE FOR SOCIAL SERVICES like education and health care [In the name of reducing government's role and supporting government subsidies and tax benefits for business].
  • DEREGULATION. Reduce government regulation of everything that could diminish profits.
  • PRIVATIZATION. Sell state-owned enterprises, goods and services to private investors. This includes banks, key industries, railroads, toll highways, electricity, schools, hospitals and even fresh water [Usually done in the name of greater efficiency].
  • ELIMINATING THE CONCEPT OF "THE PUBLIC GOOD" or "COMMUNITY" and replacing it with "individual responsibility."

If you've been following the arguments for today's school reform movement, all these principals will sound familiar.

Americans usually associate “reform” with a movement that will make things better, for example, reforming child labor laws. However, this is a case where U.S. citizens need to be much less naive!

The ultimate outcome of today’s public education “reform” is the elimination of our children's schools as a public institution, followed by a rebuilding where all schools will be operated privately. This time, reform isn't going to mean any type of improvement which the trusting, average person is likely to have in their mind.

In the 19 months since I started this blog, I’ve connected with parents, teachers, and community members in Boston, New York City, Albany, Baltimore, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Portland, Oregon. In each of those cities, people are experiencing the same neo-liberal siege of their local public school system. In some cases, the condition is at a very advanced stage.

Recently I had an exchange with the authors of Seattle Education 2010, a blog that focuses on charter schools as well as the presence of the Broad Foundation within Seattle public schools. They display the following quote from Albert Einstein at the bottom of their website:

‘The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.’

The rational mind beams brightly from the minds controlling public education reform today. Think about places like Harvard Business School and about all those now-interested-in-education MBAs. Think about Milton Friedman who designed the blueprint for the total corporate privatization of Earth. He was originally a mathematician and statistician who became an economist. And think about the billionaires who are suddenly devoted to "improving" public education. Eli Broad was a precocious Certified Public Accountant (the youngest ever in Michigan at the time) who became a corporate CEO. Bill Gates was a precocious computer scientist before he became a corporate CEO and the wealthiest, and thus the most powerful, person who has ever lived on this planet. There would be little balance in the minds of today’s education reform leaders; they are weighted down by their strategic business-minded rationality.

The danger of today’s education “reform” movement is that the arguments which defend it are so damn logical. That logic – potentiated by the billions spent on developing and pushing it – may be what is giving it so much strength. But might doesn't necessarily make right.

Unfortunately, their logic wins, especially when so many people don’t view propaganda with a critical eye, don't know that they need to be skeptical about grand claims, have absolute trust in “philanthropists,” and want the ugly problems which chronically exist in inner-cities to simply disappear.

They think to themselves, why not fixate on data? What's wrong with testing children a little bit more, and a little bit more? Why aren't teachers to blame when their students have trouble absorbing information in the classroom? Why not replace teachers with smart, analytically-minded, Ivy League-trained, 22-year-olds, even if they've only had six weeks of summer training? Why wouldn’t the KIPP model work for every single child, it makes them so obedient? What's wrong with calling students, their teachers and their schools "failures" when test scores don't measure up? What could possibly go wrong if our nation's public schools were replaced with those that are privately-run?

I really liked the Einstein quote, so I looked it up and found more great quotes about rationality and creativity.

On Rationality...

Being rational does not necessarily kill creativity, but it can very easily do so. This is because we are not rational, even though we think we are. Psychologists call it ‘bounded rationality' because although we have a deep need to appear rational, the world is simply too complex for us to fully understand.


‘Analysis kills spontaneity. The grain once ground into flour germinates no more.’ — Henri-Frédéric Amiel

‘No, no, you're not thinking; you're just being logical.’ — Niels Bohr

‘Sir, we must beware of needless innovation, especially when guided by logic.’ — Winston Churchill

‘Logic, like whiskey, loses its beneficial effect when taken in too large quantities.’ — Lord Dunsany

‘Many of the things you can count, don’t count. Many of the things you can’t count, really count.’ — Albert Einstein

‘Rules and models destroy genius and art.’ — William Hazlitt

‘Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.’ — Martin Rees

‘Most of our so-called reasoning consists in finding arguments for going on believing as we already do.’ — James Harvey Robinson

‘Pure logic is the ruin of the spirit.’ — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

‘The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it.’ — George Bernard Shaw

'People who lean on logic and philosophy and rational exposition end by starving the best part of the mind.’ — William Butler Yeats


nikto said...


Are Charter-School Operator-Korporations CRIMINAL OPERATIONS?

It is disturbingly obvious
that Charter School Korporate Operators commit crimes like fish swim, even when a few of their principals might have a few
honest "questions".

An occassionally honest Principal?

Can't have that!
It's terrible for Profit$!!

And ALL the Corporate Charter crimes have
to do with...Ta da!! MONEY!!
(as in: PROFITS)

Surprise, surprise.

Today's latest installment:

"Charter school principals fired after questioning taxpayer money spent on school's real estate arm":


America must face the ugly Truth:

To Charter Corporations,


This is so screamingly obvious, I spit in the face of anyone who disagrees.

The time for any respect for
such ilk has passed.

nikto said...



Maybe moving the goal posts is just a new American Value.

Neocon-Privatizers clearly can't operate without doing it.