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Blog4reform Day: Education for Profit and Its Nexus with the DPVA Decision

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Today is national #blog4reform day, a day for real reform, that is. Today is personal.  Lowell has written with passion about Brian Moran’s “day job.” I write with equal passion.  With our anger over Wall Street’s undoing of the US economy; two unending needless wars; and the assault on the New Deal, it is sometimes hard to find a place for the outrage we would appropriately feel.  So, privatization and profiteering from education is one of those issues which flies under the radar for many.  However, education is not only a right.  It is a public trust.  

Let us not mince words.  To sell off our educational resources (including federal taxpayer dollars) to privateers is betrayal of America’s citizens. But there is nothing sacred anymore.  Our children and our youth are now seen by Brian Moran and Harris Miller as fodder for diploma mills.  It is bad enough that K-12 educational systems are under attack by faux reformers under the guise of “Waiting for Superman.”  (Notice the insurmountably false standard.  No real world teacher, a mere mortal, can measure up.)  But that doesn’t matter for opportunists searching to profit from education.  Their sights are set even beyond that.  And so I weigh in, on DPVA’s controversy: Should it be “led” by someone who so clearly works against our values?  

Education is the linchpin of a democratic society.  Demolish it and there is nothing left, only a an empty shell of a democracy (or republic); a corporate state; a generally unenlightened populace, forced into glaringly impoverished subservience; and 1-2% of our country laughing all the way to the bank.  Into such a tragi-comedy of national errors, comes these predators some once thought would care enough about people and their circumstances to look out for the little guy.  

Two of them ran for statewide office: Harris Miller and Brian Moran.  Now they work against democratic institutions. Moran now works with a man who helped sell our jobs overseas and now diverts federal education monies into the hands of corporations and hedge fund managers.  And now he also works to reduce schools to online courses with those privateer hedge fund managers and corporations collecting the salaries teachers once did. This movement seeks to give nothing, or little, back –only a shell of an educational infrastructure.  

With Harris Miller we learned early enough his predilections toward earning money at the expense of US jobs.  And we defeated him at the polls.  His megaphone, it turned out was turned against the very people he purported to want to represent.

In the case of Brian Moran, we did not learn early enough how he would be motivated to use his talents against the interests of ordinary Americans.  Though he lost his race for governor, now he has thousands of supporters, who will be angry at bloggers such as us.  Many of my friends like him.  There is a part of me that still does.  But I cannot condone what he is doing.  Should it select Brian for its chair, DPVA makes perhaps its biggest mistake ever.  His interest is not our interest.

Our interest is for both K-12 and university systems worthy of America’s people, not systems which do the least for them and profit the most.  I am not currently an educator, though I have been.  I have relatives who are.  I have formerly taught pre-school, high school, and college students.  I have attended public and private elementaries, private high school, and public and private colleges.  None were for-profit.  I emerge a great supporter of public education.  I also care deeply about the direction of our public schools.  I know how good they can be, when students are challenged to accomplish great things.  I have had gifted teachers myself (and, frankly, a very few bad ones).  I know the great, the good and even the bad about our system.  But most of the time schools work, the testing industry’s attempt to mis-measure and defund them notwithstanding.  Note, though the NCLB leaves no Bush behind as this article shows, it leaves kids, schools and teachers behind nonetheless. NCLB was designed to make schools fail and justify defunding them. RTT is not much better.

Today’s kids who end up gifted enough to shine and lucky enough to be in good schools have a better chance for a fulfilling future, at least so far as the off-shoring of our jobs will allow.  Other kids deserve more and we must provide them that. That hardly means privatization and making for-profit our entire educational system. In order to save education, we had to destroy it?  

When we hand over infrastructure (such as buildings) privateers then rent back the very infrastructure we have PAID FOR, at ridiculously high prices.  When one combines our funding of schools and then leasing them back, we then pay twice and, sometimes even three or four times, or many more times, for schools.  And so something else must be cut.  Bit by bit, the heart of an educational curriculum dies.  

But Neil Bush and Newt Gingrich have a curriculum for you!  Partisan conservatives care about controlling content and personnel.  Corporations only care about voc-ed and they aim to reduce education to the merest shell.  If they can dispense with those fields which truly both broadly and deeply educate (history, literature, psychology, political science, art, music foreign languages), then maybe they can compress “learning’ into two or, at most, three years.  Maybe, they think, everything can be learned from providers in service to the corporations who hire them to degree-grant for their employees.  

Our society is tilted toward short-term interest, not long-term benefits and losses. The University of California is now trying to “prove” the monetary “worth” of its college degrees.  They’ve hired an outside firm to quantify this.  And the depreciation of real learning diminishes more and more.  However they erroneously try to quantify educations “worth,” UC misses that they are fighting the wrong battle.  Its opponents lie with statistics.  It doesn’t matter what UC “proves” or doesn’t.  Should the online schools such as Kaplan divert more and more federal monies, UC, and other flagship universities, will have fewer and fewer students.  Over time, no one will quite get the real loss to America of this utilitarian corporate-imposed nightmare, until it is too late.  

And those rare gadfly voices will be considered quaint. K-12 privateer data is suspect as well. Despite the propaganda, the privateers are not getting the consistent results they claim, or the results are confounded by other explanatory variables.  But that is subject for another blog post.

Forces from both political parties have their sights on teachers.  And then one more field which attracts “do-gooders,” you know those people who actually overwhelmingly care about the kids and young adults they educate can be laid off and set free to file for unemployment insurance which will be eliminated anyway.  Payment for teachers for online course varies from $60 a course to $600 to even thousands, as does the quality of the “education” students receive.  

But one thing is clear.  This is meant to defund the Middle class, and presumably the “left,” whom the radical wrong-wing believes to fill the ranks of US teachers.  The aim is to cut their salaries in half or worse, as they have so many other jobs.  And so it has come to this.  Two supposed stalwarts of the Democratic Party work in their day jobs to destroy not only a part of the democratic base, but also our children’s futures.  How can you support that?  I cannot.

  • notlarrysabato

    Kathy, I think that this was such a magnificently written diary that no one had anything to add but to nod and agree.

  • quakercav

    It’s disturbing how close we came to nominating Harris Miller in 2006