Sunday, January 20, 2008

Back Door Capitalism

Capitalism is such an insidious bacteria, it seems to find any and every crack to seep its way into public space. Education is no exception. Smaller Learning Community grants are given to public schools across the U.S. The grants promise schools to answer the problem of students slipping through cracks when isolated within anonymous, large school populations by creating "smaller learning communities." What progressive couldn't get on board with that, right? As one of the SLC Grant Coordinators I was excited by the possibilities of this grant to address prejudice, violence, isolation, suicide, etc. In fact, I'm still somewhat positive that these things can be accomplished, but not by outside private entities whose primary motivation is ultimately profit!

Many of the private consultants that attend the SLC Grant conferences (like the one I attended in Florida this weekend) are armed with canned answers, books, workshops, private consultations, PowerPoints, handouts, brochures, etc. Perhaps, not too surprising, they were also once educators themselves. (Warning: the following is one big tongue in cheek!). Now, however, they have found more "profitable" ways to help educate our children. Their ways are always "more efficient," "more logical," and always "common sense." They're above the fray and have broken free from the fetters of bureaucratic public education to discover more streamline models that are obviously much more sensible and realistic approaches to education.

In reality, these former educators couldn't handle the growing list of duties and unrealistic demands placed on teachers, nor the never-ending prescriptive policies (such as NCLB) that go unfunded. So they quite their jobs to get rich saving education. Shouldn't these former educators be admired for recognizing the limits of public education and seeking to solve problems with efficient, steam-line private monies. After all, the free market will redress any level of corruption and profiteering, right? Or should they be recognized as opportunistic vultures whose most intelligent assessments were acknowledging that they'd never get ahead on the front lines of education? Did they figure out that instead they'd be smarter to exploit a very vulnerable and desperate institution? (A vulnerability and desperation that are predicated on under-funding, and the cultural devaluing of education as a social priority).

(A quick pre-emptive for Wiser) The amount of work a teacher does is utterly under-appreciated! Enough said!

What I observed this past week was nothing short of criminal. Former educators costing our school district more than $12,000 to fly a delegation of eight educators (principal, counselors and teachers) to Ft. Lauderdale, FL. We dutifully helped our flailing economy (and capitalism's inside group) by paying for flights, meals, hotels, transportation, and then the big whammy: a conference of private entities shilling their less-than-professional books, tapes, DVDs, overheads, and flimsy science that would rescue our sorry schools. Interestingly, the money came from our SLC grant. Our grant is a $5 million grant (spread among several high schools in the area) that our government feels can best be spent on contracting with outside private companies. Ahhh, the perfect asymmetrical relationship contracting the public to the private (stage one in which Milton Friedman gets his oats!); just as the private companies likes it: no accountability, no audits, no transparency.

In reality, this kind of profit looping is all too common in the modern capitalist system. Can the Patriots be stopped? Can criminal profiteering? The Revolution Will Not Be Funded!


Renegade Eye said...

Can you think of any nation that became a world power or industrialized through policies as privatization?

One word: Sputnik

Daniel Owen said...

Well, nationalisation is a scam. I mean sure, Sputnik. Whoop-dee-doo. So Russia sent a piece of scrap metal into low orbit. This economic "efficiency" came at the cost of millions dead, a police state, zero workers rights, and poverty and starvation.

I can't wait to join your Bolshevist paradise, "renegade eye"!

Ché Bob said...


I'm not sure what you're asking me?

Do either of you have thoughts about me actual post? You know, the negative implications of privatizing education?

troutsky said...

I understand Ren (you don't mind me speculating,Ren?)as critiqueing privitization but for me the question is not one of becoming a world power but one of total soulessness.When everything becomes a question of the bottom linew and all interaction is commodified, all relationships are cheapened.

Dan, we meet again, and again Im not sure if it's the aspect of individualism you think makes nationalism a "scam" or some other hierarchical feature.This abhorence of the State or Nation points to a little debate Che bob, myself and others have been having about cultural anarchism and what defines a community, state,collective, nation etc.

Ché Bob said...

Ren and Trout,

I figured it out! You thought I was speaking kindly about the process of privatization. Oops! I was being far to smug. No, I find these efficiency myths to be just that: MYTHS! Not to mention, their proposals are impractical in application.

My purpose was to show how public monies are ending up in private hands yet again!

canyonfairy said...

I understood your point exactly! I read through your smugness, if that what you want to call it. This push for privatization is out of control. Here's one for you, educational consultants. Recently our school board consulted with a private educational consultant to analysis the efficiency and recommend improvements to our staff and aides with regards to the Title 1 and Special Ed. Dept. Is that not already the job of the administration and staff?

How about Indian Education for All, now here's a state mandated program the had the opportunist cheering in the streets. No established curriculum means an open door for the "experts" to profit. Don't get me wrong, I think Indian Ed. for All will help enlighten future generations to the importance of culture and diversity, especially in MT, were I have encountered more prejudice toward Native Americans than any other western state. I have just see a great deal of public monies in up in the hands of the private sector from this piece of legislation.

blackstone said...

I find this very interesting. It'd be really telling to see who is on the board of directors or whom owns these public school consulting firms.