Wednesday, February 11, 2009

More on the Corporate Hijacking of Public Education

Below, Ken Libby weighs in on what the new stimulus package means for public education. Talk about putting the status quo on steroids!

It seems to me the very last thing the superclass and their underlings in power want is real vision in public education reform. I think they would see Educating for Human Greatness as a threat. See my sidebar at the top. Also learn more about the vision and guiding principles of EHG here.

Now, back to oppression and control:

Stimulating Corporate Education
Ken Libby

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and the corporate charter school movement hit the jackpot with the new stimulus package. The Democratic plan for shifting control of education from the public to the private sector sets aside $7.5 billion to be directed explicitly by Duncan.

The "State Fiscal Stabilization" fund includes legislation designed to shift control of education to corporate interests through for-profit and non-profit education organizations. The stimulus package would allow Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, privatizer extraordinaire in the Chicago Public Schools prior to his work in the Obama administration, to direct $7.5 billion for "State Incentive Grants," which includes a $650 million "Innovation Fund".

Eligibility for Duncan's new "Innovation Fund" giveaway requires an organization to "demonstrate that they have established partnerships with the private sector, which may include philanthropic organizations, and that the private sector will provide matching funds in order to help bring the results to scale." Yet securing a grant also would "allow such eligible entities to work in partnership with the private sector and the philanthropic community" to expand "to scale based on demonstrated success."

Duncan's push for the bill's approval included a speech to the American Council on Education in which he noted, "From Teach for America to the KIPP charter schools to instructional innovations at colleges and universities, we have proven strategies ready to go to scale." This is a significant injection of federal funding into the corporate model of educational reform envisioned by Bill Gates, Eli Broad, the Walton Family Foundation, KIPP schools, Teach For America, Chris Whittle of Edison Schools, the Committee for Economic Development, and the Business Roundtable.

States willing to play by the data manipulation game mastered by corporate charter chains are eligible for billions more in "IncentiveGrants." Section 1406(b) of the stimulus bill specifies: "The Secretary shall determine which States receive grants under this section, and the amount of those grants, on the basis of information provided in State applications under section 1405 and such other criteria as the Secretary determines appropriate." Section 1405 contains the most significant aspects of No Child Left Behind, particularly the punitive aspects and overall philosophy. States receiving these funds are also required to adhere to specific aspects of the America COMPETES Act (passed in 2007 under President Bush with bipartisan support), most notably to "align the requirements, standards, and assessments with the knowledge and skill necessary for success in academic credit-bearing coursework in postsecondary education, in the 21st century workforce, and in the Armed Forces without the need for remediation," practically a summary of Duncan's tenure as CEO of Chicago Public Schools.

Duncan spent the past seven years reforming CPS, which included the opening of 5 high school military academies filled by minority students, mandating curriculum optimal for teaching children the limited reading skills demanded by the minimum-wage employment in corporate America, expelling low-achieving students to boost test scores, spreading the corporate/militant model of education reserved for minority students in inner-city charter schools, and preserving the best public education for the wealthiest families. Duncan's definition of "what works" borrows the playbook from corporate America's profit-driven ideology and imposes the rigid structure of the military on our children.

Education Industry Associates, representing many of the most powerful education interest groups, note that, "Education is rapidly becoming a$1 trillion industry, representing 10% of America's GNP and second insize only to the health care industry." Elementary and secondary education represents nearly $600 billion annually, with high-poverty schools the target of for-profit education management organizations(EMOs) in the endless search for emerging markets. Neoliberal social entrepreneurs are salivating at the prospect of expanding their teach-to-the-test, militarized learning environments suitable for drilling students in the discrete skills necessary to pass high-stakes tests.

Under the education provisions in the stimulus plan, Federal dollars will be diverted to for-profit corporations and non-profit foundations representing corporate America, a continuation of the abysmal policies of the Department of Education during the previous eight years. Washington elites, and the Democratic party in particular, are presenting a false choice of eliminating supplemental state assistance or providing "State Fiscal Stabilization" with billions reserved for dismantling public education. Emergency public funding will either be slashed in an era of unprecedented bailouts for the same institutions responsible for the State and local budget shortages; or, public education funding will be diverted back to corporate America through the U.S. Department of Education.

The Washington elite couldn't care less about public education for the poor when their children have access to high-quality education free from high-stakes testing and militaristic learning environments, which they deem necessary for working class children to overcome the effects of the poverty that Washington continues to simply ignore. As for the general public, a far cheaper education system guided and controlled by corporate America becomes the only education system capable of legitimizing current power structures displaying blatant disregard for our children and collective future.

"Taken together, the Barack effect, the leadership on the Hill, the proven strategies, and the money in the stimulus package represent what I call the perfect storm for reform, a historic alignment of interests and events that could lift American education to an entirely new level," Duncan announced.

The perfect storm is upon us, the storm of corporate education.

1 comment:

Students for Compensated Corporate Education said...

I'm afraid this post completely misses the point. The problem isn't the "perfect storm" of "corporate education" that you lament--the problem is that we are going about corporate-run education in the wrong way and without vision. The solution is simple--we must cut out the economically inefficient university middleman and allow students to contract directly with their corporate benefactors. Students are already organizing to do just that at