FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Education for Sale

by MYLES B. HOENIG

Thanks to Chris Nielson for this title’s line and to the nearly dozens of other speakers on Thursday and this weekend who comprise the line up of activist educators in Washington, DC for the Occupy the Department of Education 2.0. This year’s show of force is sponsored by United Opt Out, a parents/teachers based grassroots organization dedicated to having public school children in America refuse to take high stakes tests throughout the school year. Founder Peggy Robertson of Colorado, teacher and parent, called on all to demand creative learning and an end to the dismantling of public schools.

There was a small kick-off gathering at the Department of Education site but the movement has been growing with enormous strength since 2011 with the Save Our Schools March on Washington, where nearly 10,000 educators and parents from all over the US braved the hottest day of the year to show how we are fed up with the privatization of our public education. There is a revolt going on and it’s catching fire. The brave teachers at Garfield High School in Seattle refused to administer their high stakes test. Parents all over the country are now aware of their rights as parents to opt their kids out, and often with no negative consequences to their children’s academic futures.

At this years event, speaker after speaker, from school librarians, teachers, careerists-turned educators, parents and the occasional wonk spoke passionately of how huge corporations have amassed fortunes at the expense of public school children. Powerful forces are at work to squeeze every dollar they can from children’s daily experiences at schools. It wasn’t lost on anyone that 400 Maryland Ave SW should be renamed the Gates-Pearson building (Bill Gates, Pearson Publishers), rather than the Department of Education. Diane Ravitch, former Assistant Secretary of Education and author of The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education (2010) repeatedly pointed her finger to the top floors of the DOE to say how they don’t listen to educators but only those who can profit off the data mining that testing provides.

The injustices that prevail in the US regarding our children’s education can be summed up in two ways: child labor and child abuse. The Tennessee state government is considering legislation to tie a child’s test score to the family’s welfare check. The pressures put on these children are beyond cruel and inhumane. Forcing a child to do well on often bogus tests as a way of supporting a family’s income and survivability should be condemned in all possible ways. The abuse all children submit to throughout the school year with endless testing, data collecting, and the denial of the arts, libraries, physical education, is one that would never be tolerated for the kids of those making educational policy. It’s no surprise that the private schools that produce the elite laugh at the idea of such high stakes testing or mindless and numbing curricula whose purpose is only to prepare the students to pass such tests. A creative curriculum is for their kids, the children of Bill Gates and President Obama, not urban and rural kids who are likely to be of color and certainly of lower income.

Five years after President Nixon resigned no one claimed to have ever voted for him. Now, the very forces involved in destroying public education are ‘coming around’. Fox news the other day did a story on how the Common Core for curriculum was written by private interests, but endorsed by government. Joel Klein, former Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, has joined Murdoch’s News Corp’s as Executive Vice President. He also acquired Wireless Generation, the IT company that data mines NY’s schools. Bill Gates even now talks of how testing is going overboard. Could this be the aristocracy of France trying to fend off the Jacobins before their heads rolled off the guillotine? Or in more recent history is it more akin to the senior Nazi high command who switched allegiance to the Allies when Berlin was falling?

Like every other public service, education is for sale. Students are widgets or commodities with a price tag. Teachers are no more than McDonald’s-like employees forced to create uniform results and discarding those who don’t make the grade. Many are leaving the profession. Those entering are now the tools of a multi-billion dollar industry. Who will win out will depend on whether or not we see a revolution in education carried out by the parents, students and teachers.

Myles B. Hoenig is a veteran ESOL teacher in Prince George’s County, MD.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

August 29, 2016
Eric Draitser
Hillary and the Clinton Foundation: Exemplars of America’s Political Rot
Patrick Timmons
Dildos on Campus, Gun in the Library: the New York Times and the Texas Gun War
Jack Rasmus
Bernie Sanders ‘OR’ Revolution: a Statement or a Question?
Richard Moser
Strategic Choreography and Inside/Outside Organizers
Nigel Clarke
President Obama’s “Now Watch This Drive” Moment
Robert Fisk
Iraq’s Willing Executioners
Wahid Azal
The Banality of Evil and the Ivory Tower Masterminds of the 1953 Coup d’Etat in Iran
Farzana Versey
Romancing the Activist
Frances Madeson
Meet the Geronimos: Apache Leader’s Descendants Talk About Living With the Legacy
Nauman Sadiq
The War on Terror and the Carter Doctrine
Lawrence Wittner
Does the Democratic Party Have a Progressive Platform–and Does It Matter?
Marjorie Cohn
Death to the Death Penalty in California
Winslow Myers
Asking the Right Questions
Rivera Sun
The Sane Candidate: Which Representatives Will End the Endless Wars?
Linn Washington Jr.
Philadelphia District Attorney Hammered for Hypocrisy
Binoy Kampmark
Banning Burkinis: the Politics of Beachwear
Weekend Edition
August 26, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Louisa Willcox
The Unbearable Killing of Yellowstone’s Grizzlies: 2015 Shatters Records for Bear Deaths
Paul Buhle
In the Shadow of the CIA: Liberalism’s Big Embarrassing Moment
Rob Urie
Crisis and Opportunity
Charles Pierson
Wedding Crashers Who Kill
Richard Moser
What is the Inside/Outside Strategy?
Dirk Bezemer – Michael Hudson
Finance is Not the Economy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Bernie’s Used Cars
Margaret Kimberley
Hillary and Colin: the War Criminal Charade
Patrick Cockburn
Turkey’s Foray into Syria: a Gamble in a Very Dangerous Game
Ishmael Reed
Birther Tries to Flim Flam Blacks  
Brian Terrell
What Makes a Hate Group?
Andrew Levine
How Donald Trump Can Still be a Hero: Force the Guardians of the Duopoly to Open Up the Debates
Howard Lisnoff
Trouble in Political Paradise
Terry Tempest Williams
Will Our National Parks Survive the Next 100 Years?
Ben Debney
The Swimsuit that Overthrew the State
Ashley Smith
Anti-imperialism and the Syrian Revolution
Andrew Stewart
Did Gore Throw the 2000 Election?
Vincent Navarro
Is the Nation State and Its Welfare State Dead? a Critique of Varoufakis
John Wight
Syria’s Kurds and the Wages of Treachery
Lawrence Davidson
The New Anti-Semitism: the Case of Joy Karega
Mateo Pimentel
The Affordable Care Act: A Litmus Test for American Capitalism?
Roger Annis
In Northern Syria, Turkey Opens New Front in its War Against the Kurds
David Swanson
ABC Shifts Blame from US Wars to Doctors Without Borders
Norman Pollack
American Exceptionalism: A Pernicious Doctrine
Ralph Nader
Readers Think, Thinkers Read
Julia Morris
The Mythologies of the Nauruan Refugee Nation
George Wuerthner
Caving to Ranchers: the Misguided Decision to Kill the Profanity Wolf Pack
Ann Garrison
Unworthy Victims: Houthis and Hutus
Julian Vigo
Britain’s Slavery Legacy
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail