Learning For Sucess; Ahem – I mean Service
If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.
– Thomas Jefferson to Charles Yancey, 1816
When Thomas Jefferson refers to a state of civilization, one assumes he has his own in mind; that is western civilization, of course. Why, then, should an ignorant nation never expect to know freedom? Perhaps, as he penned this letter to Charles Yancey, Jefferson had in the back of his head the approximately 6,000 years of scorched earth policies that, within this state, were perpetrated by and for the vector of western progress. The institutions comprising western civilization, he concluded, predisposed agents of history to depravity and conquest. Therefore, it must be so, that the people enjoy the fruits of access to the voluminous amount of data available during any given epoch. Abraham Lincoln, while in office, echoed his forbearer, saying “let the people know the truth and the country is safe.” Like never before do the masses have access to a wealth of information. Many key players in the political and corporate arenas, recognizing this, are positioning themselves and events so as to make a case for further restriction of the internet, while increased supervision in the classroom is on the agenda under Obama.
As the world enters the dog days of summer, families have by now taken their annual financial vacations. The kids have been home from school, work and sports fill up the calendar and finances have been put on the backburner. In the fall, without having sifted through financial statements for three months, parents return to the monetary details of their lives, oftentimes aghast at the holes they had dug for themselves in so short a time. Aside from money shambles on the second leg down of the economic crisis, what can parents, and children, expect this coming fall at their public schools?
Close analysis of Obama’s education policies divulge that, like many other policy areas, no new course will be pursued. Rather, just as the administrations financial policies expound the amount of clout his main financial supporters flex over a woefully command and control economy—Goldman Sachs, for example, controls somewhere in the ballpark of 35 percent of all program trading, which makes up around 50 percent of all activity on NYSE—so too will Washington exacerbate totalitarian trends in the classroom. Basically, the plan for education will lead to more state intervention in school life, continued marketisation, managerialism, standardization and testing, external accountability, intervention in family life, and a modeling of education in such a way as to further the goals of the state-enterprise apparatus—among which stands, first and foremost, centralization of goods, governance and services—as opposed to the consciousness raising and therefore general welfare of the public.1
First, the continuing budget crisis will precipitate more cuts in school funding. Due to budget cuts limiting the amount of pay allocated to faculty, legislation in California already permits schools meeting certain requirements to reduce the school week to four days. This in a state, of all places, where currently only 43 percent of six million students are considered proficient in reading and 41 percent in math. Furthermore, a recent National Science Foundation report foresees that California’s elementary schools will fall short of reaching their Adequate Year Progression targets by 2014.2 The California education outlook, while dire due to the state’s advanced stage in the financial crisis compared with smaller economies in the union, is hardly a black sheep: in the coming months, similar developments will be played out across the country.
The Obama Regime maintains that teachers “should not be forced to spend their academic year preparing students to fill in bubbles on standardized tests.” Their plan, however, reflects the overall Orwellian nature of the contradictory propaganda/measures taken dichotomy thus far employed by the regime in Washington, and increases the amount of standardized testing and externalized accountability by introducing “a broader range of assessments that can evaluate higher-order skills, including student’s ability to use technology, conduct research, engage in scientific investigation, solve problems, present and defend their ideas.” This portends the implementation of tests not only for basic literary and math skills, but also vocational and analytical skills.3
The trend of externalized accountability—a euphemism for externalization of authority, away from the teachers and students, and into a vertically executed federal system—will be further extended to the job of teaching. More and more, instead of being certified through a process based on one’s proclivity to creativity in the classroom, measured by one’s ability to inspire a healthy learning environment, teachers will become accredited by way of a checklist of designated competencies. Currently, accreditation is optional for teacher education institutions; under the Obama plan, however, all teacher education programs will be required to endure the accreditation process. The premise of such measures, naturally, is that the interlocked art of teaching and learning is no art at all, but rather a uniform process with no variation across personalities and geography. Historically, the universal application of religions, which have their origin in unique times and places, has meant the debasement and consequential uselessness of those religions. The same logic applies to education, an outcome of its socio-historic roots, as well as a cultures cognitive orientation.
Funding for early learning allows parents more time to work or take part in other activities, especially in the inner city, at which many of these programs are targeted. Most of the programs are offered to children in the cities, and not their suburban counterparts. Obama and Biden argue “the failure to address early learning needs is most apparent with disadvantaged children.” Early learning, they continue, is an economically sound policy, for it leads to a “decreased need for special education services, higher graduation and employment rates, less crime, less use of public welfare systems and better health.”3
The line of reasoning will indeed be furthered, that the purpose of education is the service of the economy. The Obama Regime has outlined a “rewarding and training” system, whereby 40,000 “service scholarships for “high-need” (for the economy) subjects are to be allocated, with main emphasis put on science and math, upon which “over 80 percent of the quickest growing occupations are dependent.”3 The intermixing of private and public education, one must deduce, will create a feedback loop promoting the increase of overlapping interests between the economy and the socialization process. This is demonstrated by the fact that Obama and Biden support charter schools under the guise of parent freedom to choose one school over another. Charter schools are independent and oftentimes focused on religion or owned by a private entity. In the name of diversity and choice, Obama and Biden champion these available options, and though it is true many private schools have been a relative success, leading to innovative initiatives etc., the furthered privatization of the socialization process would mark a fraudulent overlap in interests. The privatization of education in the United States, as many analysts have pointed out, seems inevitable considering that nation’s bankrupt debt-equity ratios.
What might turn up increasingly throughout the country has already in some places. For instance, at Jefferson high school in Portland, Oregon, the basketball team the Portland Trailblazers, in a partnership with the NBA and Toyota funded the building of a new Community Resource Center at the school. The project is one of 15 community service initiatives spearheaded by funding from Toyota Project Rebound. While it is great that the school is receiving a new venue for meetings, etc., Toyota advertisements now adorn the inside of an Oregon public school.4
This agenda, aimed primarily at working-class or lower-income families, allows the state a more far reaching hand in the upbringing of its subjects, especially those who, otherwise, would be in the hands of the historically more discontented elements. This logic extends to absurd lengths, even encroaching on the turf of ancient documents, such as the Magna Carta, wherein it states that a man’s home is his castle. Obama and Biden would like to “expand evidence-based home visiting programs to all low-income, first-time mothers.” This is gateway legislation: Creeping intervention on behalf of the state which further erodes the family and the bedrock of openness on which the Republic was founded.5
In other school-related news, school-age children, it has been reported by the Washington Times, “will be a key target population for a pandemic flu vaccine in the fall.” The students would be vaccinated in a mass campaign paralleling that of efforts in the 1950’s against polio. Pregnant women, adults with chronic illnesses and health-workers would join children as the first in line. The federal government expects to receive approximately 100 million doses of vaccine by mid-October, assuming the current production, by only five companies, continues as planned. However vaccine for wide use, by about 120 million “especially vulnerable” people, will not be available until later in the fall.6
Schools and teacher training institutions do fall flat of expectations. While these systems are in desperate need of overhaul, the policies on which Obama and Biden plan to embark will limit the range of critical topics discussed in the classroom. What they offer are tested insights in regards to education, many of which are proven failures and work towards social engineering goals at the expense of learning and enlightenment. Representative of the failing US public education system, is a recent study calculating that one-third of American college students must enroll in remedial classes. These efforts cost colleges and taxpayers between $2.3 billion and $2.9 billion annually. Tuition at US universities and colleges, moreover, is reaching levels which threaten the ability of the middle class to afford higher education. Many institutions maintain they are embarking on cost-shifting programs, whereby the more moneyed students—able to pay or take out loans—will subsidized through their tuition a poorer colleague. Some colleges and universities, nevertheless, are experiencing financial difficulties which severely limit their ability to offer quality educations.7
In early may the Obama administration proposed its first full education budget, funding a plethora of new programs, despite a net decrease for minority-serving colleges and universities; that is, for typically black colleges and universities, tribal colleges and Hispanic-serving institutions. The administration plans to terminate 12 small federal programs costing $550 million, among others. This new budget should also save $4 billion by way of reducing bank subsidies for federal student loan programs.
Standish, Alex. Under Obama: No Child Left Unmonitored. Spiked Online. [↩]
All Students Proficient on State Tests by 2014? National Science Foundation, 25 September 2008. [↩]
Barack Obama and Joe Biden Plan for Lifetime Success Through Education [↩] [↩] [↩]
Press Release: Trailblazers, Toyota Unveil Community Resource Center at Jefferson High School. Submitted by Sentinel news Service, 3/30/2009. [↩]
Barack Obama and Joe Biden Plan for Lifetime Success Through Education [↩]
Brown, David and Hsu, Spencer. Students first in Line for Flu Vaccine. Washington Post, July 10, 2009. [↩]
Pope, Justin. High School Failing Colleges Now Spend Billions on Remedial Classes for Freshmen. Huffington Post, September 15, 2008. [↩]