Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Trained To Poverty

Worried Souls Dry As Dust

Trained To Poverty—A Disgusted Take 
On Rightwing Education "Initiatives"
By Alfred Lehmberg

For a time subsequent to retiring from the military, I was a public school teacher, another ironic story only alluded to.  In consequence, I think I have a rational line on problems associated with an American education system, particularly as it pertains to how grudgingly, senselessly, and stingily it is paid for.

I implore the reader to listen to me when I glaringly propose that Rightwing education initiatives are a true sociopathic abomination for a reason that no one is willing to talk about, yet, if ever. We'll forget for a moment that these "voucher" initiatives are not GWB's invention. He was, after all, only the current right-canted sock puppet for the cultural Beany and Cecil show our non-elected elite sullenly sells to the masses as governance (and that Sherman Skolnick and Michael Parenti write about, citation after documented citation), but I digress.

On the face of it?  Vouchers seem a good idea. Assuming a specific school is not "cutting it"—a wide, gracelessly reaching, and so inaccurately applied assumption—parents should be able to put their children into an educational scenario that DOES "cut it" (whatever that might mean). After all, a Nation that realizes the value of an educated population would pay for the more successful alternative—would credit the concerned parent... provide for that parent's financial relief. Forget that all of the preceding remains to be seen and is not in evidence.

A lot of these alternative schools, I dare say a majority of them, are religiously oriented. Some would argue that this is a step in the right direction, and I can only too readily agree with them. I don't mean that in a good way...

Moreover, these alternative schools are only slightly better than their sister public schools at turning creative and innocent human beings into just two kinds of animal: Captains of industry, and that captain's subservient and undervalued employee.  The new feudalism.

Additionally, this ballyhooed gulf of difference in the supposed competency and positive effect between the public and the private schools is measured largely by the fact that the private school does not have to trouble itself with a troublesome student! Students that don't improve the average, or maintain the *standard* simply do not have to be tolerated like they must be tolerated in the public school. Private schools simply, and too easily expel for cause, sweep their problem students back under the public rug. This is the mechanism of their attractiveness to an investor, eh?

Be that as it may, they do offer significant improvement over an inner city school corrupted by quality of space, harried support personnel, sparse funds, and antiquated texts and equipment. We'll forget the actual toxic genesis of these significant problems, for now.

So—"Bush's" resonating and ongoing Republican answer to failing public schools was to take money away from them—"punish them" I think they've said in many of their more spellbinding, erudite, and with-it speeches (pardon the ardent sarcasm), and give that "found money" to hapless parents who further pass it on to the likes of an intellectually porcine Jerry Falwell, frankly, creationists and fundy mouth breathers, but I repeat myself. That's the upshot, isn't it?

That's FINE if you have the depth of one of the puddles on Jerry's WELL manicured lawn, GREAT if you endorse the convenient politics of religious hatred, and FIRST-RATE if you're comfortable legislating another's blue nosed, repressive, and hypocritically canted morality as the law of the land. It predictably sucks Falwell's puddle water if you, like me, abhor any of the preceding.

On reflection of current events and published facts on hand—Consider NJ Governor Christie and his gut punch to the quality of life for public school teachers—the Republican game plan is revealed.  

"Foment disgust," first, with the already mal-supported public school system: CREATE a problem identified as union incompetence, that is to say—blame it on itself!  Then magnanimously offer the boon of financial rescue to these misdirected and hapless parents in the form of funds they can use to send their little treasures to only the "BEST" schools!  See, underfunding, degrading, blaming, then canceling public education provides for a LOT of "found money."

I must digress a moment and caution the intrepid parent not to let the EXPECTATION of exceptional educational opportunities allegedly found in A Right Wing's voucher system to EXCEED the event of those actual opportunities.  Where else have they been straight with you?  

If the parent thinks that their children will be rubbing elbows with a better class of student and family, they shouldn't. Any kid who could provide the kind of value that these concerned parents may be hoping for... won't be going to THAT private school, guaranteed.  Your voucher won't cover that center of modern learning.  Not by a long shot.

Returning to the aforementioned "prophetic divination" of Republican intent, one easily conjectures that the monies have been spent, vouchers are issued, and families are able to send their children to these "better" alternative schools. This is ALL families now. All effected families can take advantage of the voucher system. What's gravy for the blue collar goose is gravy for the ermine collar gander. On paper.  

If you don't avail the public school you get a voucher for an alternate private one. I imagine a Bill Gates gets some kind of kick back if he is *only* getting his children a *better* educational opportunity. The ranks of these private schools, student populations and teaching cadre, subsequently swell like a bone dry sponge in one of Jerry's manicured lawn puddles. Then the tragic fiscal magic happens.

Inexorably, the money is sucked out of the public sector!  Public schools go from bad to worse with the hacking application of the double edged sword found in, one, the reality of reduced funds to the public school and two, the inevitable backwash of 
students easily expelled from the witheringly officious and *choosy* private sector. The Public school is reduced to a hell hole.  Those schools exist now; I taught in them.

In the revolting aftermath, public education is sorely wounded, if not finally killed outright, at last. This is not so oddly part of the overall plan provided for in the worryingly indistinct elitist conspiracy who boast about canceling the Department of education, but only part of it.  First, underfund, criticise the resulting incompetency, then use that excuse to reduce funding even more.  Ugly, disingenuous, more than psychopathic!

I remind the reader that an egalitarian federal public education system is anathema to the Republican right. To them the republic should always be subordinate to the non-elected state and local fiefdoms. It is the liberal education of these masses that makes these masses so informed, troublesome, and unmanageable. "Right" minded people have always gone against the efficacious expansion of public education. Ironically, educational vouchers can be perceived as but a Machiavellian means to that end!

A surreal twist to the end of this tale is the icing of an elitist's cake. As the populations of these schools swell, the schools subsequently find they must commit more resources, hire more teachers, but expend more funds. These are funds not easily forthcoming in a Republican administration famous for canceling school lunch programs and kicking single mothers off welfare. The voucher will not increase in size, indeed will likely shrink one way or another, if history is ANY guide. What is the poor private school to do, but raise its tuition, something the PUBLIC school could NEVER do except in a regressive manner. Oh, no worries mate! 

Some, or even most, of these families will be able to pay the difference out of their own pockets, for a while. "Bill Gates" won't have a problem.

The reality is that some (or even most) of these trusting families won't be able to pay the difference though, and their kids will just have to make do with the now substantially crippled public school system, or if that has gone extinct, well... then perhaps they can take advantage of some other *service* education opportunity (how to flip Mad Cow burgers and serve up sparkling Seizure soda, for example). Rest assured, though, that the shadowy non-elected will be in a much more secure position to teach YOUR left-behind kid how NOT to be a leader in the 21st century.  That's this writer's read.

Predictably, I believe that it is THIS that is the suspicious thrust behind the "largess" of the Rightwing seemingly responsible "quality education" initiative. Be not fooled. Their true aim is the destruction of public education and the use of those now released public funds to pay for stunted, reproductionist, and Private education systems which are complacently, faux-traditionally, and shallowly spun—an education where a historic United States drunk with unearned hubris, uncalled for arrogance, and unjustified exceptionalism can do no wrong!  Christopher Columbus is an eternal hero, slavery was a good thing, and the business of government is business, said and done. No Nation can survive its foundations built on such mendacious rot.  Truth serves better.

One of the greatest developers of the American education system and the father of modern education, Heinrich Pestalozzi, once said that "the poor must be trained to their poverty."  He did not mean to eliminate poverty therefore, poverty was expected.  Education would help them know their place.

This is the mechanism of private school vouchers. The poor won't get an elevating education, ultimately. All they'll get is tedious training—a dilution to the quality of their experience, and out of it will largely come the more manageable soul as dry as chalk dust on a forgotten blackboard.  

Some will know seething rage provoked by injustice's few serving themselves to the detriment of the productive many.  That's the history.