THE BLOG
10/01/2014 06:52 pm ET Updated Dec 01, 2014

The Remarkable Idiocy of 'Economically-Driven Education'

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On October 2, 2014, I will be speaking in Indiana to an audience chiefly comprised of university students who have a passing understanding of the intentions of monied interests to usurp control of public education.

With a mind toward preparing for my upcoming engagement, I happened to read three pertinent (and powerful) articles: This one on September 26, 2014, in Chalkbeat on Indiana Governor Mike Pence's plan to use workforce data to determine what schools teach in order to subjugate education to the requirements of the job market, excerpted below:

...Indiana is quietly taking steps to position itself for a future where data drives much of what is learned in school. Gov. Mike Pence has made connecting education and workforce development a centerpiece of his administration's agenda...

This year, a bill he wrote created a new state office, under Pence's direction, with a director who has been nicknamed the state's "data czar." That office will manage an expanded network of K-12, higher education and workforce data, working with an outside company to identify trends and opportunities to connect what is learned now to what students will some day need to know.

Just last month, Pence named [state representative Steve] Braun as the state's new director of the Department of Workforce Development. [Emphasis added.]

Pence wants to tailor education to serve the workforce, not the individual being educated -- an important point.

Next is another article, a Living in Dialogue post by Professor Emeritus Denny Taylor, one that deals quite skillfully with the sinister push to make public education little more than the servant of the US economy. The second article refers to very-well-compensated "non-profiteer" Marc Tucker's 1992 "Dear Hillary" letter, excerpted below. Tucker's vision is

... to remold the entire American system" into "a seamless web that literally extends from cradle to grave and is the same system for everyone," coordinated by "a system of labor market boards at the local, state and federal levels" where curriculum and "job matching" will be handled by counselors "accessing the integrated computer-based program. [Emphasis added.]

Again with using education to create workers to serve the workforce.

Finally, in this dehumanizing, "student-as-object" vein, is a third article, from the August 1, 2014, Washington Post and written about the South Korean education system by former South Korean student and teacher, Se-Woong Koo. The entire article I find profoundly sad, but this part stuck me most:

Herded to various educational outlets and programs by parents, the average South Korean student works up to 13 hours a day, while the average high school student sleeps only 5.5 hours a night to ensure there is sufficient time for studying. Hagwons [cram schools] consume more than half of spending on private education.

This "investment" in education is what has been used to explain South Koreans' spectacular scores on the Program for International Student Assessment, increasingly the standard by which students from all over the world are compared to one another.

But a system driven by overzealous parents and a leviathan private industry is unsustainable over the long run, especially given the physical and psychological costs that students are forced to bear.

Many young South Koreans suffer physical symptoms of academic stress, like my brother did. In a typical case, one friend reported losing clumps of hair as she focused on her studies in high school; her hair regrew only when she entered college. [Emphasis added.]

South Korean children are "typically" losing their hair from the pressure of becoming objects to serve societal education expectation. A shocking image.

US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan believes that the South Korean education system is "better" than the American education system, and he believes America needs to be more like "demanding" South Korea.

When American children typically lose clumps of hair as a direct result of the stress of their schooling, perhaps Duncan will be satisfied.

After reading and meditating on these three articles today, I had an epiphany of sorts regarding privatizing utility of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

Now, I know a lot about CCSS. This summer I wrote a book on its history, development, and promotion. However, what occurred to me this afternoon is the reason for the business push for CCSS particularly and the spectrum of privatizing reforms in general.

It has nothing to do with "competing in the global economy." That's just a distractor.

The goal of business in aggressively promoting CCSS while bashing the teaching profession into false, test-score-riddled "accountability" is to reshape the purpose of education into streamlined, assembly-line-to-market service.

Yes, CCSS is about corporate profits, but it is about more than companies like Pearson making potential billions off of selling CCSS products and services.

The true business goal behind CCSS and other market-driven "reforms" is to make American education completely economic -- which means completely dehumanized in its purpose.

It is about corporate America funneling the nation's youth into predetermined, objectified service of the corporate, gluttonous market needs. And a crucial component of that goal is to break the spirit of teachers and make us nothing more than the trainers of What the Market Requires.

They must break us because we do not worship profits. The very fact that we enter the modestly-remunerating teaching profession attests to our "failure" to weigh the value of a life in economic terms.

No reasonable individual enters K12 teaching "for the money."

Though K12 teachers are not driven by thoughts of a fat wallet, don't kid yourselves for a moment regarding so-called "nonprofits." They are raking in the dough hand-over-fist. Consider "think tank and do tank" National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE) CEO Marc Tucker, as cited from the Taylor article:

... For the tax year ending June 30th 2011... Tucker received a total of $2,549,077 in compensation from NCEE and ACI (America's Choice, Inc.) -- $2,055,465 from the sale of ACI to Pearson and $493,612 in compensation and benefits from NCEE ...

In 2012 Tucker received $819,109 in total compensation from NCEE.... [Emphasis added.]

Those who run nonprofits can certainly "profit." Just ask CCSS salesman, Fordham Institute then-VP Michael Petrilli, who was paid over $214,000 for his "nonprofit" work in 2012, and New York charter queen Eva Moskowitz, who collected over $578,000 in "compensation" from running her charter "nonprofit" in 2012-13.

Talk about the benefits of "choice," eh?

There is certainly money to be made in promoting "reforms" that, ahem, "benefit the economy." But we must recognize this "cradle to grave" shaping of the American education system for what it is: A purposed effort to separate America into two groups, the privileged and the serfs. Indeed, the privileged are trying to finesse the message of serfdom as one that "concerned citizens" seemingly cannot say no to: a falsified image of national economic health that, if ingested by the American consciousness, will prove to be nothing more than caustic gluttony that dehumanizes most members of our society and corrodes our democratic foundation.

Ironically and truly, even the fattened Marc Tuckers and their like will fall by their own selfish folly. For all of their economic positioning, they cannot hover above American democratic foundation collapse.

The remarkable idiocy of it all.

Originally posted 09-27-14 at deutsch29.wordpress.com