Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Happy Idiot's Guide to Education: Part 1

This post [in two parts] is a corollary to a post yesterday on my blog, TPS Performance, by team blogger UptheFlag.

Already there is a comment on his posting about the fate of another urban public school system is a suggestion to beat the children: that will 'teach' them! There are plenty of lunatics like this out there such as this person who lives in the past. Folks like these cannot accept the fact that what was done 20-30 years ago in schools may never have been the right thing to do in the first place, let alone today. Just beat them into submission satiates their anger, but offers no solution.

At first you might think that the comment came from a person who spent their school days in a Catholic school where the maxim was to rap them on the knuckles with the ruler! Rather, she is quite an anti-Catholic fundamentalist. As a fundamentalist, then, it becomes quite clear why she holds these extreme and idiotic views about public education: she is living in the past and wishes to return to those 'good old days.'

Not only the fundamentalists, but so many other Americans wish to return to the 'good old days' of education when teachers could 'handle' the children in the classroom. Terrify them, more exactly.

Of course, at the root of the education dilemma is the so-called factory schools that were set up in America; we still have them today. Factory schools were envisioned to be miniature factories, assembly lines for the children, to learn in a piece-meal fashion as well to be brainwashed into thinking like a factory worker. Behave for the teacher and behave for the line-boss; don't think too much and do what you are told. Be nice little workers and don't ask questions.

Interestingly right here in Toledo that very idea came to a violent head. The unionization of the auto workers, a bitter bloody battle, gave more humanity to the linemen working in those noisy, dirty, contaminated factories. Henry Ford and other wealthy industrialists, naturally, fought such worker-rights because these were anathema to having complete control over the lives of his workers. The deadly Auto-Lite strike of 1934 right here in Toledo stands as an ugly witness to the attempts of big business to intimidate its workers and to literally beat them back into submission. Beat the workers! Naturally, the strikers were labeled 'socialists' and 'communists' in an attempt to de-humanize their efforts. Fortunately, after the blood was washed from Toledo's streets, workers were granted the power to unionize and to have a voice in their own destiny.

I cannot tell you how many times I have heard, especially before an election on a school issue, "Them schools was good enough for me, and I ain't vot'n them no more money." Right-wing Republicans love folks like these; they are easy targets for their anti-public school propaganda. In fact, platform committee of the 2000 Republican National Convention had language calling for the abolition of the Department of Education. The right-wing of the GOP hates free, public schools and prefer to have dumbed-down masses of people as workers in their non-union factories. Today, of course, these CEO's have found their dumbed-down workers in China, by-passing the American workers who were educated to exactly perform in these non-existent factories.

Right-wing Republicans and their religious compatriots, Fundamentalist Christians, keep their guns focused on public education, propagandizing the masses with their usual array of smoke and mirror delusions. Actually, fundamentalists want their Christian schools to get the public money for their schools. Toledo' s own Sally Perz was able to manipulate the Ohio State Legislature to fund so-called 'community schools.' These schools legally take local and state tax revenues and use them in private schools of their own creation.

Right-wing ditto heads continue to absorb and spew the anti-tax message against public school funding. Apparently they do not believe that a highly-educated public is good for our republic.

Racism too lifts its ugly head in all of this. Of course, the upper middle class whites have mostly moved to the suburbs, taking their children out of urban schools. Note further that the more well-off blacks most often send their children to private schools or move to the suburbs. What is left is a pool of poorer whites and black students who come to school ill-prepared for such a situation and who do not receive the at-home support for education during their school days.

Rather than addressing all of these issues facing today's schools, black-and-white thinking by these right-wing groups offer no new insights into solving this problem other than hitting the children over the head or stamping out public schools...

[end of Part 1]

Lefty Blogs