The 4 Most Profound Ways Privatization Perverts Education

Leave a comment

Image: Getty

Profit-seeking in the banking and health care industries has victimized Americans. Now it’s beginning to happen in education, with our children as the products.

There are good reasons – powerful reasons – to stop the privatization efforts before the winner-take-all free market creates a new vehicle for inequality. At the very least we need the good sense to slow it down while we examine the evidence about charters and vouchers.

1. Charter Schools Have Not Improved Education

The recently updated  CREDO study at Stanford revealed that while charters have made progress since 2009, their performance is  about the same as that of public schools. The differences are, in the words of the  National Education Policy Center, “so small as to be regarded, without hyperbole, as trivial.” Furthermore, the four-year improvement demonstrated by charters may have been due to the  closing of schools that underperformed in the earlier study, and also by a variety of means to discourage the attendance of lower-performing students.

Ample evidence exists beyond CREDO to question the effectiveness of charter schools (although they continue to have both  supporters and detractors). In  Ohio, charters were deemed inferior to traditional schools in all grade/subject combinations. Texas charters had a much  lower graduation rate in 2012 than traditional schools. In Louisiana, where Governor Bobby Jindal proudly  announced that “we’re doing something about [failing schools],” about two-thirds of charters received a D or an F from the  Louisiana State Department of Education in 2013. Furthermore, charters in  New Orleans rely heavily on inexperienced teachers, and even its model charter school Sci Academy has experienced a skyrocketing suspension rate, the second highest in the city. More trouble looms for the over-chartered city in a  lawsuitfiled by families of disabled students contending that equal educational access has not been provided for their children.

More from Alternet

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Advertisements

10 Big Wins For Public Education in 2013

Leave a comment

If what’s past is truly prologue, there’s a good chance 2013 will be remembered as the year the free-market education reform movement crested and began to subside. After a decade of gathering momentum, reform politics began to founder in the face of communities fighting for equitable and progressive public education. Within the year’s first weeks, a historic test boycott was underway, civil rights advocates confronted Arne Duncan on school closings, and thousands were marching in Texas to roll back reforms.

Perhaps we should have sensed this coming: the Chicago Teachers Union strike in the fall of 2012 foreshadowed the education struggles that would take center stage in 2013. In addition to fair contract provisions, they called for a new course for public schools: well-rounded curriculum, fewer mandated tests, more nurses and social workers, an end to racially discriminatory disciplinary policies, and early childhood education, among other demands.

10. Common Core Coalition Crumbling

Just as Common Core State Standards (CCSS) have become ascendant, supported by over 40 states and glutted with hundreds of millions in federal funding, they’ve come up against widespread pushback. At least 17 states now show signs of cold feet on the Common Core.

The K-12 curriculum guidelines, initially the darling of statehouses nationwide, have aroused suspicion and pique in their public entrée. The standards’ implementation will likely cause test scores to crater, as they have in Kentucky and New York, exacerbating evaluation pressures on teachers and threatening more schools with closure. Some see the standards as a costly anduntested imposition driven largely by firms hungry for the profits nationalized standards may bring—for instance, 68% of districts plan to purchase new CCSS-aligned materials.

The Common Core grew out of a baffling public-private partnership funded by the ubiquitousGates Foundation and textbook manufacturer Pearson, which was recently fined over $7 million for using its charitable arm to peddle Common-Core-aligned products.

Resistance has emerged in state legislatures as well as the grassroots (including an unfortunateGlenn Beck-inspired contingent that fears the indoctrination of children with “extreme leftist ideology”). Two public school moms in Indiana successfully petitioned the legislature to pauseCCSS rollout there. In a series of New York town hall meetings, CCSS protesters aired their (occasionally vituperative) grievances to the education commissioner, and the state subsequently announced a testing drawdown. Several states, including Georgia and Pennsylvania, havewithdrawn from the Common Core’s testing consortium, PARCC.

More from Alternet

Posted by Libergirl

Our Invisible Revolution

Leave a comment

“Did you ever ask yourself how it happens that government and capitalism continue to exist in spite of all the evil and trouble they are causing in the world?” the anarchist Alexander Berkman wrote in his essay “The Idea Is the Thing.” “If you did, then your answer must have been that it is because the people support those institutions, and that they support them because they believe in them.”

Berkman was right. As long as most citizens believe in the ideas that justify global capitalism, the private and state institutions that serve our corporate masters are unassailable. When these ideas are shattered, the institutions that buttress the ruling class deflate and collapse. The battle of ideas is percolating below the surface. It is a battle the corporate state is steadily losing. An increasing number of Americans are getting it. They know that we have been stripped of political power. They recognize that we have been shorn of our most basic and cherished civil liberties, and live under the gaze of the most intrusive security and surveillance apparatus in human history. Half the country lives in poverty. Many of the rest of us, if the corporate state is not overthrown, will join them. These truths are no longer hidden.

It appears that political ferment is dormant in the United States. This is incorrect. The ideas that sustain the corporate state are swiftly losing their efficacy across the political spectrum. The ideas that are rising to take their place, however, are inchoate. The right has retreated into Christian fascism and a celebration of the gun culture. The left, knocked off balance by decades of fierce state repression in the name of anti-communism, is struggling to rebuild and define itself. Popular revulsion for the ruling elite, however, is nearly universal. It is a question of which ideas will capture the public’s imagination.

Revolution usually erupts over events that would, in normal circumstances, be considered meaningless or minor acts of injustice by the state. But once the tinder of revolt has piled up, as it has in the United States, an insignificant spark easily ignites popular rebellion. No person or movement can ignite this tinder. No one knows where or when the eruption will take place. No one knows the form it will take. But it is certain now that a popular revolt is coming. The refusal by the corporate state to address even the minimal grievances of the citizenry, along with the abject failure to remedy the mounting state repression, the chronic unemployment and underemployment, the massive debt peonage that is crippling more than half of Americans, and the loss of hope and widespread despair, means that blowback is inevitable.

“Because revolution is evolution at its boiling point you cannot ‘make’ a real revolution any more than you can hasten the boiling of a tea kettle,” Berkman wrote. “It is the fire underneath that makes it boil: how quickly it will come to the boiling point will depend on how strong the fire is.”

Revolutions, when they erupt, appear to the elites and the establishment to be sudden and unexpected. This is because the real work of revolutionary ferment and consciousness is unseen by the mainstream society, noticed only after it has largely been completed. Throughout history, those who have sought radical change have always had to first discredit the ideas used to prop up ruling elites and construct alternative ideas for society, ideas often embodied in a utopian revolutionary myth. The articulation of a viable socialism as an alternative to corporate tyranny—as attempted by the book “Imagine: Living in a Socialist USA” and the websitePopular Resistance—is, for me, paramount. Once ideas shift for a large portion of a population, once the vision of a new society grips the popular imagination, the old regime is finished.

An uprising that is devoid of ideas and vision is never a threat to ruling elites. Social upheaval without clear definition and direction, without ideas behind it, descends into nihilism, random violence and chaos. It consumes itself. This, at its core, is why I disagree with some elements of the Black Bloc anarchists. I believe in strategy. And so did many anarchists, including Berkman, Emma Goldman, Pyotr Kropotkin and Mikhail Bakunin.

By the time ruling elites are openly defied, there has already been a nearly total loss of faith in the ideas—in our case free market capitalism and globalization—that sustain the structures of the ruling elites. And once enough people get it, a process that can take years, “the slow, quiet, and peaceful social evolution becomes quick, militant, and violent,” as Berkman wrote. “Evolution becomes revolution.”

This is where we are headed. I do not say this because I am a supporter of revolution. I am not. I prefer the piecemeal and incremental reforms of a functioning democracy. I prefer a system in which our social institutions permit the citizenry to nonviolently dismiss those in authority. I prefer a system in which institutions are independent and not captive to corporate power. But we do not live in such a system. Revolt is the only option left. Ruling elites, once the ideas that justify their existence are dead, resort to force. It is their final clutch at power. If a nonviolent popular movement is able to ideologically disarm the bureaucrats, civil servants and police—to get them, in essence, to defect—nonviolent revolution is possible. But if the state can organize effective and prolonged violence against dissent, it spawns reactive revolutionary violence, or what the state calls terrorism. Violent revolutions usually give rise to revolutionaries as ruthless as their adversaries. “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster,” Friedrich Nietzsche wrote. “And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”

Violent revolutions are always tragic. I, and many other activists, seek to keep our uprising nonviolent. We seek to spare the country the savagery of domestic violence by both the state and its opponents. There is no guarantee that we will succeed, especially with the corporate state controlling a vast internal security apparatus and militarized police forces. But we must try.

Corporations, freed from all laws, government regulations and internal constraints, are stealing as much as they can, as fast as they can, on the way down. The managers of corporations no longer care about the effects of their pillage. Many expect the systems they are looting to fall apart. They are blinded by personal greed and hubris. They believe their obscene wealth can buy them security and protection. They should have spent a little less time studying management in business school and a little more time studying human nature and human history. They are digging their own graves.

Our shift to corporate totalitarianism, like the shift to all forms of totalitarianism, is incremental. Totalitarian systems ebb and flow, sometimes taking one step back before taking two steps forward, as they erode democratic liberalism. This process is now complete. The “consent of the governed” is a cruel joke. Barack Obama cannot defy corporate power any more than George W. Bush or Bill Clinton could. Unlike his two immediate predecessors, Bush, who is intellectually and probably emotionally impaired, did not understand the totalitarian process abetted by the presidency. Because Clinton and Obama, and their Democratic Party, understand the destructive roles they played and are playing, they must be seen as far more cynical and far more complicit in the ruination of the country. Democratic politicians speak in the familiar “I-feel-your-pain” language of the liberal class while allowing corporations to strip us of personal wealth and power. They are effective masks for corporate power.

The corporate state seeks to maintain the fiction of our personal agency in the political and economic process. As long as we believe we are participants, a lie sustained through massive propaganda campaigns, endless and absurd election cycles and the pageantry of empty political theater, our corporate oligarchs rest easy in their private jets, boardrooms, penthouses and mansions. As the bankruptcy of corporate capitalism and globalization is exposed, the ruling elite are increasingly nervous. They know that if the ideas that justify their power die, they are finished. This is why voices of dissent—as well as spontaneous uprisings such as the Occupy movement—are ruthlessly crushed by the corporate state.

“… [M]any ideas, once held to be true, have come to be regarded as wrong and evil,” Berkman wrote in his essay. “Thus the ideas of the divine right of kings, of slavery and serfdom. There was a time when the whole world believed those institutions to be right, just, and unchangeable. In the measure that those superstitions and false beliefs were fought by advanced thinkers, they became discredited and lost their hold upon the people, and finally the institutions that incorporated those ideas were abolished. Highbrows will tell you that they had ‘outlived’ their ‘usefulness’ and therefore they ‘died.’ But how did they ‘outlive’ their ‘usefulness’? To whom were they useful, and how did they ‘die’? We know already that they were useful only to the master class, and they were done away with by popular uprisings and revolutions.”

By Chris Hedges/popularresistance

Posted by The NON-Conformist

The Pledge of Allegiance and Fascism

1 Comment

Image: enwikipedia.org

I wrote in a couple of blog posts about bloggers and journalists and the differences between the two. For this reason I like blogging. The 4th of July was just upon us. This is when bloggers can say things that are true whereas journalists can’t without fear of blow back. In this post I want to deal with the pledge of allegiance and fascism. After the ruling on the Affordable Care Act a.k.a Obamacare, Repubs lost their minds; literally. Some of them started throwing around the word fascism as if saying it three times the candy man would appear. That’s as foolish as the “idea” of fascism itself. I listened to their arguments and I was confused especially by one certain person who I can’t mention by name till she runs for president. Anyways, she was throwing the word around without “any” explanation of what she meant by it. This is what bothers me most, people in positions of authority shouldn’t allow guests to speak  frivolously because it may sound good. That’s fine in the interim but in the long run it can hurt one’s credibility.

We have to ask the question, what is fascism? Fascism is difficult to pin-point or define as it mostly deals with an ideology. It could be explained as an illiberal regime type, insofar as it denies the significance and rights of the individual and expects citizens to function together in a corporate fashion for the glory of the state. Fascism is defined as much by what it opposes as well as what it supports, it is anti-modern, anti-rationality, anti-democratic, and vehemently anti-communist. Fascism is also militaristic and espouses and imperialistic, expressionistic foreign policy and corporatism.

At a forward glance, this definition refers to both ruling parties in the United States. As a free-thinker as well as moderate/volunteerist, our political system is corrupted from both sides. I don’t think the founding Fathers planned for our country to be controlled from a Left/Right paradigm. Both sides want equal control to rule and put policies in as they please to control the minds and hearts of individuals. Indoctrination starts in schools beginnig with the worship of the state.

The Pledge of Allegiance was created by Francis Bellamy, a Baptist Minister as well as a Christian socialist. He first pinned the pledge in a magazine entitled The Youth’s Companion 1892. Before this he sold flags to schools. During that time he sold as many as 26,000 flags to schools but when the flag business began to dry up he started to speak to school superintendents to promote his new idea: the pledge. The program began around the flag being raised followed by the pledge. A controversy arose with the induction of the Bellamy salute. He was the first to champion what became popularized by Mussolini and later by Hitler. Hitler copied almost verbatim  from Mussolini down to the uniforms; so much for originality. The salute was later changed with hand over the heart gesture. Eisenhower later encouraged congress to add “Under God.” Because of Bellamy’s socialist views and his belief  in the rights of individuals and of equal distribution of economic resources, he was force to leave his church in Boston. He said his beliefs had always come from the teachings of Jesus and the Bible.

Political pundits decry socialism but, again, isn’t all government socialism? Don’t both sides want to control certain parts of the economy or all of it? While I believe Bellamy had a different idea the flag worship and pledge of allegiance is used to indoctrinate young kids to believe in an idea,  it’s a form of worship that should only be made for the creator.  America is no different from any other country that proposes worship of the state. People are free to do as they please but it doesn’t make one more patriotic. I believe it makes one more beholden to a failed idea.

The NON-Conformist

%d bloggers like this: