Schools under Attack

Found this story on Twitter: an opinion piece from Aj-Jazeera about the attack on American schools by private corporations: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/05/2012521114853681761.html

This is the looting of the American school system, and the local treasuries of states and municipalities. Already well under way in Philadelphia, as this article describes, it’s coming soon to a state or town near you. It’s one of the side effects of rampant capitalism that any wealth center that exists, public or private, must sooner or later come into someone’s eye as a source of potential profit. The only difficulty is, though, that education is inherently unprofitable: it involves wasted paper, wasted pens, wasted markers, wasted books, wasted building materials, wasted computers, wasted time, wasted equipment…

Some of my readers may object that education isn’t inherently wasteful — that it’s about turning kids into productive members of society and engaged citizens and… Blah, blah, blah.

From a capitalist perspective, though, none of that matters:

There’s a computer lab at my school that sits empty a lot of the time. Those computers are being wasted — they’re on, and they’re depreciating in value right this very minute, and we’re not getting any use out of them! Think about all the books in that library down the hall: how many of them will not be taken out of the library this year? And what about that librarian who has to manage and care for all those books, and who sits idle whenever there isn’t a class in that library? And she wants the heat on? Outrageous! What about that kid who needs extra support and tutoring? Get rid of him quick — it’s wasteful to give him one-on-one support. What about art, and music? Inherently unproductive and wasteful. That art room requires expensive supplies and tools and materials. That music teacher needs expensive equipment that none of the kids will learn how to use properly or completely in the three, four or five years that they’re in this school — so parents should pay for that kind of service, and pay for the equipment, so that it becomes an externalized expense, not one intrinsic to our business model…

Outrageous.

There is no model of education at all anywhere, ever, which will allow profits to be sucked out of a school system and permit the education of the next generation. Whether it be my recent learning experiments with spagyrics or my painting work, or my students’ papers, none of these activities are wealth-producing in a way that allows a capitalist to extract wealth. Not without impoverishing the kids, or the parents, or the teachers.

More likely, all three.

Lo and behold, the “job creators” are not job creators at all, nor white knights: they are horse thieves and villains, black knights of the worst kind.

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