If you read the news at all, you’re aware of the tremendous push for the total dismantling of public education in America. Unions have been on the endangered species list ever since Reagan ousted the PATCO workers, so the recent attacks on Teachers‘ Unions were predictable, even inevitable, and a totally necessary step for industrialists who want to close down American society.
The major media outlets are already spoken for. The Big Six, General Electric, The Walt Disney Company, News Corporation, TimeWarner, Viacom, and CBS collectively earned about $276 billion in 2009 (http://www.freepress.net/ownership/chart/main). Their holdings include NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, CNN, MTV, Showtime, Comedy Central, HBO, FX, ESPN, MSNBC, A&E, National Geographic, the Cartoon Network, Paramount Pictures, Simon & Schuster, BET, MapQuest, The Wall Street Journal, Miramax, and the Sci-Fi channel. In addition, Comcast, the country’s largest cable provider, owns a majority share of NBC-Universal, one of many clear conflicts of interest in these ownerships.
In short, six huge conglomerates control almost all the information flow to American citizens, be it through television, movies, or the internet. If they don’t want to tell you about it, it never happened. If a five-year-old gets decapitated on Space Mountain, you can be pretty sure ABC news won’t be giving the death much coverage, even if it’s a pretty little rich white girl, because they’d be ratting on their parent company. Likewise, NBC won’t be sharing much info about the various wars we’re mired in because wars are, well, depressing, and if the good folks of America start associating wars with sadness and woe and dead Americans (like we did during Viet Nam) then NBC’s parent company, General Electric, one of the largest weapons manufacturers in the world, might not be able to move as much product.
The central scrutinizers, the purveyors of the perversely named “No Child Left Behind” scam are corporatists to the core. They have as much interest in truly educating our children as Rush has in encouraging Black people to vote. Their heartless disregard for the socio-economic status of children attending “underperforming” schools can be best understood by this passage from Wikipedia:
If the school’s results are repeatedly poor, then a series of steps are taken to improve the school. Schools that miss AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) for a second consecutive year are publicly labeled as being “in need of improvement” and are required to develop a two-year improvement plan for the subject that the school is not teaching well. Students are given the option to transfer to a better school within the school district, if any exists. Missing AYP in the third year forces the school to offer free tutoring and other supplemental education services to struggling students. If a school misses its AYP target for a fourth consecutive year, the school is labeled as requiring “corrective action,” which might involve actions like the wholesale replacement of staff, introduction of a new curriculum, or extending the amount of time students spend in class. The fifth year of failure results in planning to restructure the entire school; the plan is implemented if the school fails to hit its AYP targets for the sixth year in a row. Common options include closing the school, turning the school into a charter school, hiring a private company to run the school, or asking the state office of education to directly run the school. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_Child_Left_Behind_Act
So how does the current attack on those charged with educating America’s children fit into all this? If enough quality teachers are driven out of the teaching profession and/or are discouraged to enter it in the first place, all this demented screeching about the deterioration of our educational institutions will become fact. How many young, bright persons do you think will be willing to spend their lives being intensely scrutinized every working day, in some cases by people with little or no educational training, or by people whose main concern is making little kids bubble in the right circles on standardized tests? Will a number of dedicated individuals with a real love for teaching and desire to build better children still choose to brave this idiocy and enter the teaching profession anyway? Sure, but their numbers will doubtless diminish in the face of the relentless drumbeat of vouchers and mayoral academies and charter schools and privatization and ultimate corporatization of our public school systems. Similarly, experienced teachers who are nearing the end of their careers are much less likely to stay on a few extra years and risk their retirement money being stolen by pressure from illiterate Teabaggers screaming about spending cuts. It’s also insulting to be told, after thirty years of successful teaching, that your methods are suspect and need to be constantly improved so the pinheads in charge can crow about higher test scores. Why is it that senior partners in law firms are respected, even revered, but experienced teachers are just old?
Once all the bright, motivated teachers have been eliminated from the workforce, it will be relatively easy to install classroom managers whose main duties will be controlling the Great Beast (that’s us, by the way http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Chomsky/Imperial_Presidency.html) and teaching to the test. No more joy of learning, no more spirited inquiry, no time for anything but the test-driven curriculum. A corporate orgy of bland uniformity.
The inexorable death march to privatization is built into NCLB. Towns and neighborhoods with high poverty rates tend to perform more poorly than their affluent cousins. Students of color tend to be less affluent than white people. They also tend to do less well on standardized tests. To deny the correlation between these two facts is ignorant at best, and arguably racist. The poor can’t possibly compete, financially or otherwise, with the Scarsdales, the Barringtons, the Chevy Chases, the Bloomfield Hills of America (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highest-income_places_in_the_United_States), and so will eventually become wards of privatized, state-runs prison schools. Yowsah Massah.
Once all the teachers are homogenized, and the schools are privatized, then the children can be lobotomized. The control of information to American citizens will be completely in the hands of a few, huge corporations, and history can be remodeled to suit their needs. It’s already happening in Texas, where history texts are being rewritten to claim, among other things, that Jefferson Davis and Abraham Lincoln were of equal historical importance, that the separation of church and state wasn’t really in the Constitution, and that Communist spies infiltrated the United States’ government during the Cold War. Demonstrable nonsense all, yet once the schools are in corporate hands there will be no one to dispute this nonsense after a decade or so, because it will be documented “fact”. Orwell was right on the money with this one. Hi ho, hi ho, down the memory hole we go. The Teabaggers, the Rapturists, the Birthers, and every other drooling wingnut lunatic will have historical “proof”, as well as Gawd, on their side. The tracks will have been covered. The descent of the American populace into total ignorance will be complete, and the Neocons will be able to feed us any crap they want because there will be no evidence left to refute their lies.
And no one left to care, because we’ll still have American Idol soma to suck on. We’ll be happy, which is really all that matters.