Our public education system is not the source of our state of inequity and outcome-decay, it is a co-victim along with the learners hoping to be more than fuel for the current global economy furnace ( or the gravel under its feet). Still: public school reform has been made a top priority. Why have education reform, failing schools and bad teachers taken the lead position on the “things to do” list? Two possible reasons:
1) There is a lack of will to address the actual problem: economic policy that empowers the greedy and dismisses or covers for failures that result-impacting the economy for everyone else while still enriching the greedy.
2) True education, empowerment, critical thinking, and collaboration in the masses are a threat to the few in power (the greedy mentioned in 1), so education reform in its current form seeks to control the masses through a standardized education that will merely equip them to serve-not seek to lead.
Despite the rhetoric heard from leaders in policy and reform, there is no reason to believe that they really want a nation of empowered, well educated graduates-even though their language is centered around “college and career readiness” and “competition”. The implication of the former is that college is appropriate for all, careers are there for the taking (or will be when the “jobs of tomorrow” arrive), or both. Our leaders and the politicians they have employed to play leader distract the citizenry by forcing responsibility for student outcomes entirely on public schools and teachers.
But little attention is given to either the massive college debt that already exists among the career un-and underemployed, or the debt awaiting all of those future “college ready” students who take on the challenge within a job market that holds little promise. The latter, “competition”, is concerning because it reveals adherence to the cutthroat, me-first philosophy that leads to greed, inequity, market crashes, dishonesty and distrust. I’m not sure many in the forefront of education reform (being politicians, semi-celebrities, coached carefully by PR experts) would claim that economic competition and individual glory are the primary goals of an education, or that we want to compare ourselves and compete globally with countries like India and China (even though those are often given as examples of who our competitors in the global market are). No one who is calling for America to be economically competitive with these other nations also opens a discussion regarding what our core values as a nation are. They certainly don’t discuss whether we really want held up as models either a country where 1 in 6 city dwellers live in conditions unfit for humans or another where child labor is exploited and factory workers sometimes live in filthy dorms working seven day weeks and twelve hour days.
Is reaching for these conditions the education reform plan for making American children (other than the more privileged) more competitive? I can’t believe it, but I’m waiting for it to be proven wrong, namely with healthier models and clearly articulated and shared goals/values- “Common Core Values” (as opposed to standards). But in a world where advancements in technology mean fewer jobs for the majority, and more wealth and power for the minority. conflict is inevitable as inequity increases. Below is a list of five sources, lettered A through D. Each of the technology-related quotes below them can be matched to one of the sources.
Can you match source to quote correctly?
A) From the “Manifesto” of Ted Kazinski (The “Unibomber”) (1995)
B) From a song by Jimiroquai (1996)
C) From Bill Gates (2014)
D) From the July New Tech Schools Annual Conference Keynote Address by Paul Curtis (2014)
- ____ Well, technology in general will make capital more attractive than labor over time. Software substitution, you know, whether it’s for drivers or waiters or nurses… It’s progressing. And that’s going to force us to rethink how these tax structures work in order to maximize employment, you know, given that, you know, capitalism in general, over time, will create more inequality and technology, over time, will reduce demand for jobs particularly at the lower end of the skill set. And so, you know, we have to adjust, and these things are coming fast. Twenty years from now, labor demand for lots of skill sets will be substantially lower, and I don’t think people have that in their mental model.
- ____ The continued development of technology will worsen the situation. It will certainly subject human beings to greater indignities and inflict greater damage on the natural world, it will probably lead to greater social disruption and psychological suffering, and it may lead to increased physical suffering even in “advanced” countries.
- ____ It takes fewer and fewer people to produce the things that we used to produce. And so the question for us is: where will the people go?…So if computers can access this kind of [massive amounts of] data, and compete against humans in something that we would have expected to be a uniquely human trait…again, what is it that human brings to the table…what’s our “value add” to this economy, to society…?
- ____ Futures made of virtual insanity – now
Always seem to, be govern’d by this love we have
For useless, twisting, our new technology
Oh, now there is no sound – for we all live underground
I’m starting to go stream of consciousness here. Let me just say that clearly, the education reform we are entrenched in is closely linked to the future (present?) conditions described above: class division driven by the market, technology, and who controls them. “Common” standards were not called “exceptional” standards for a reason. “Morality”, “equity” and “honesty” aren’t words heard when reformers disparage public schools. What would the global economy do with so many exceptional people raised with those values? Reformers will not target the true dangers, because they are the dangers that keep them in power, and everyone else under control. Public schools hold the potential to create change and reform from the base of society upward (not force it from above). Educators are the ones capable of challenging students to think exceptionally (not commonly).
This is why public education and tenure are being targeted.
(Answers to matching: 1:C ; 2:A ; 3:D; 4:B)