The Corporate Interests Of This Nation Would Privatize Every Public Service Including Education.
One ought to consider carefully the reasons why the corporate interests of this nation would prefer the privatization of education in America. I t would be an easy sell to remove the burden of taxation from the states and every citizen who no longer has a child in this nation’s public schools and replace the funding of our schools upon those who have school age children with a tuition based funding scheme. But what of those who could not afford that tuition or could afford only a portion of the yearly cost?
Why we could offer parents “Educational Loans” so that could accumulate indebtedness and all of its perils, perils greater than those of collegiate student loans. To placate a portion of the population corporations could extend athletic scholarships to some without any academic requirements and everyone would have their sports with a good number of dreamy eyed athletes ending up in the trash heap of no-diploma four year flops.
One could lose their home, car, retirement funds and it goes on and on. But then you are not supposed to have anything. You are supposed to be beholding to the corporate state. Corporations would be free to reduce the status of teachers to minions of the Corporation, wipe out collective bargaining rights and agreements and benefits and replace them with corporate incentive awards, merit pay, based up criterion of successful education as determined by their whims, desires and values.
It would be easy in such an arrangement to eliminate all those little pesky elements of the curriculum, those that tend to inspire or encourage individual thought, individualism, inquiry and questioning. In short, regardless of what local control over social values imposed by any local elite were permitted as token involvement of parents; the basic values to be inculcated/dictated by a corporate controlled curriculum would be theirs. The curriculum would be heavy in physical sciences and mathematics and castrated of the arts and humanities.
Social Studies, History and Government would become tools of indoctrination not truth searching subjects for future leaders and voters.
And somewhere down the line we would be forced to face a horrible truth. With curriculum designed around the needs of corporate America; America’s teachers would become little more than supervisors of an educational assembly cranking out new robots for corporate America, robots devoid of any worthwhile examination of ideas, literature, philosophy or ethics.
We’ll be processing our youth down the educational conveyor belt, and what of those who don’t fit or don’t make the grade because there would be no specialized education with those mentally challenge or physically handicapped, etc. because corporate America does not believe that we are all “created equal” or are entitled to an equal opportunity to achieve; they truly believe in “let the fittest survive”.
That simply means that along the way a portion of America’s youth we be deemed as “SCRAP”, scrap that flunked out, dropped out or were thrown out left to fend for themselves competing for burger flipping, floor sweeping restroom cleaning jobs or entering the ranks of new growing class of street people destined to misery or our growing “privatized prisons.”
What a new world!
Make sure you read below the article:
Corporate Media and Larry Summers Team Up to Gut Public Education: Beyond Education for Illiteracy, Vulgarity and a Culture of Cruelty
A Report from the Frontlines: The Long Road to #OccupyWallStreet and the Origins of the 99% Movement
By David DeGraw
How Anonymous, AmpedStatus, the NYC General Assembly, US Day of Rage, Adbusters and Thousands of Individual Actions Led to the Occupation of Liberty Park and the Birth of a Movement
As the occupation of Wall Street moves into its third week, there are many questions about the organizers behind the ongoing protests and the origins of the 99% Movement. As one of the many people who actively supported the effort, and helped launch the 99% Movement, I will give my perspective on the events leading up to the occupation of Liberty Park.
As I understand it, the #OccuppyWallStreet 99% Movement is a decentralized non-violent rebellion against economic tyranny. It is a leaderless movement that has been dependent upon tens of thousands of individuals taking it upon themselves to take action and fight back against their own personal financial hardships, and in defense of their family and friends who are desperately struggling to make ends meets.
The road that led to the successful occupation has been a long, hard and winding one. When you go to Liberty Park, into the heart of the occupation, you will see a very diverse group of people with opinions across the entire political spectrum. It is the very essence of a ground-up grassroots decentralized movement. Everyone there has their own individual story on what brought them to take such a strong and inspiring stand in support this action. I urge members of the press and people interested in the movement to begin a dialogue with any one of the people taking part. There are many fascinating stories to be heard and a deeper understanding of what’s happening is impossible without hearing from a plurality of voices.
To give some background information, the following is a timeline of my 19-month long personal experience within the movement:
The Birth of the 99% Movement
On February 15th, 2010, AmpedStatus.com published the first-part of an extensive six-part series that I wrote detailing the financial destruction of the US economy. The report is entitled, “The Economic Elite Vs. The People of the United States.” The first sentence reads:
“It’s time for 99% of Americans to mobilize and aggressively move on common sense political reforms.”
The introduction goes on to say:
“It has now become evident to a critical mass that the Republican and Democratic parties, along with all three branches of our government, have been bought off by a well-organized Economic Elite who are tactically destroying our way of life. The harsh truth is that 99% of the US population no longer has political representation. The US economy, government and tax system are now blatantly rigged against us.
Current statistical societal indicators clearly demonstrate that a strategic attack has been launched and an analysis of current governmental policies prove that conditions for 99% of Americans will continue to deteriorate. The Economic Elite have engineered a financial coup and have brought war to our doorstep… and make no mistake, they have launched a war to eliminate the US middle class.”
The report quickly went viral and many popular websites picked it up and published it. AlterNet.org featured an adapted excerpt from the report with the headline, “The Economic Elite Have Engineered an Extraordinary Coup, Threatening the Very Existence of the Middle Class.” It became one of the most popular reports that they have ever published. In aggregate, across many websites that have publish sections of the report, it has received an estimated five million page views.
Soon after the report was released, AmpedStatus formed the 99% Movement based on ageneral platform put forth in part-six of the report, entitled “How to Fight Back and Win: Common Ground Issues That Must Be Won.”
As the movement began to build over the course of the next ten months, after a series of TV interviews in which I supported the 99% Movement and called for acts of non-violent civil disobedience, the AmpedStatus.com website was attacked and repeatedly knocked offline. The source of the attacks remains unknown. After publishing investigative reports detailing the fraudulent activities of Wall Street; the destructive impact the financial elite have had upon the American people; revealing direct connections between economic hardships in the US and the uprisings that, at the time, were just beginning to take shape throughout Northern Africa, the Middle East and Europe, it was obvious that we were upsetting many powerful forces.
As AmpedStatus was pushing for a decentralized global rebellion against Wall Street and actively supporting the Egyptian uprising against the IMF and Federal Reserve, the attacks on the site escalated. In what appeared to be a fatal blow, the entire ISP network that the AmpedStatus.com site was hosted on was knocked offline, hundreds of sites were also affected and the AmpedStatus.com web hosting provider said that they would no longer be able to host the site unless it was moved to a service that was significantly more than we were paying or could afford. With a very limited budget, and in complete desperation, AmpedStatus put out a call for help.
Anonymous Rides to the Rescue…
As AmpedStatus.com came under attack, Anonymous was playing a key role in supporting the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia. When no one else with the needed technical expertise would help us and it became apparent that we would have to shut down our operation, several Anonymous members stepped up and offered to support and defend AmpedStatus.com from further attacks. They assisted in setting up a new hosting account and helped develop a new Independent social network for the 99% Movement. From that point on, AmpedStatus.com has not once been knocked offline due to an attack.
Once we regained our First Amendment rights and knew that we had backing from Anonymous members, we then defiantly released another extensive report in February, 2011 entitled, “Analysis of the Global Insurrection Against Neo-Liberal Economic Domination and the Coming American Rebellion – We Are Egypt.”
The introduction states:
“If you think what’s happening in Egypt won’t happen within the United States, you’ve been watching too much TV. The statistics speak for themselves.
In previous Revolution Roundups, before we were knocked offline, we featured mass protests by the people of Ireland, Italy, Britain, Austria, Greece, France and Portugal, as the Global Insurrection contagion spread throughout Europe. And now, as we have seen over the past month, North African and Middle Eastern nations have joined the movement as the people of Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, Morocco, Gabon, Mauritania, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya, Palestine, Iraq, Sudan and Algeria have taken to the streets en masse.
The connection between this latest round of uprisings and the prior protests throughout Europe is one the mainstream media is not making. We are witnessing a decentralized global rebellion against Neo-Liberal economic imperialism. While each national uprising has its own internal characteristics, each one, at its core, is about the rising costs of living and lack of financial opportunity and security. Throughout the world the situation is the same: increasing levels of unemployment and poverty, as price inflation on food and basic necessities is soaring.
Whether national populations realize it or not, these uprisings are against systemic global economic policies that are strategically designed to exploit the working class, reduce living standards, increase personal debt and create severe inequalities of wealth. These global uprising, which have only just begun, are the first wave of the inevitable reaction to the implementation of a centralized worldwide Neo-Feudal economic order.
The global banking cartel, centered at the IMF, World Bank and Federal Reserve, have paid off politicians and dictators the world over — from Washington to Greece to Egypt. In country after country, they have looted national economies at the expense of local populations, consolidating wealth in unprecedented fashion…”
Within this report, there was a section calling for an occupation of Wall Street, in what is referred to as “The Empire State Rebellion.”
A sub-group within Anonymous then joined with the AmpedStatus 99% Movement and we began a collaborative effort known as A99.
A broad A99 platform was presented on the AmpedStatus social network. The platform represented a diverse mix of political viewpoints that members felt would properly represent the 99% of the population that has lost political representation. [View original platform here.]
On Mar 12, 2011, Anonymous A99 announced their first operation by posting a video to the AmpedStatus YouTube page. The effort was called “Operation Empire State Rebellion” (#OpESR). The video “OpESR Communication #1” stated the following:
“We are a decentralized non-violent resistance movement, which seeks to restore the rule of law and fight back against the organized criminal class.
One-tenth of one percent of the population has consolidated wealth in unprecedented fashion and launched an all-out economic war against 99.9% of the population.
We are not affiliated with either wing of the two-party oligarchy. We seek an end to the corrupted two-party system by ending the campaign finance and lobbying racket.
Above all, we aim to break up the global banking cartel centered at the Federal Reserve, International Monetary Fund, Bank of International Settlement and World Bank.
We demand that the primary dealers within the Federal Reserve banking system be broken up and held accountable for rigging markets and destroying the global economy, effective immediately.
As a first sign of good faith, we demand Ben Bernanke step down as Federal Reserve chairman.
Until our demands are met and a rule of law is restored, we will engage in a relentless campaign of non-violent, peaceful, civil disobedience.”
Economic news site ZeroHedge quickly picked up the video and featured it on their site with the headline, “Hacker Group Anonymous Brings Peaceful Revolution To America: Will Engage In Civil Disobedience Until Bernanke Steps Down.”
The video then went viral and got over 225,000 views.
Anonymous Calls for a US Day of Rage
On March 23rd, Anonymous issued a press release calling for a “US Day of Rage.” The phrase, “A day of rage,” has been a rallying cry used in uprisings spreading throughout the Middle East. A new USDayofRage.org website was launched and their first press release, again quickly picked up by ZeroHedge, called for a day of mass action and pledged their support of A99′s original general platform. [Full release here.]
Throughout April and May, members of A99 were organizing and debating possible future actions. They decided that Flag Day, June 14th, would be an appropriate time to launch actions. They also set up several new Facebook pages, such as “#OpESR – Operation Empire State Rebellion Amped.”
On June 1st, this Anonymous call to action was published to AmpedStatus:
Acts of Resistance: What Are You Going To Do To Rebel Against Economic Tyranny?
The big banks have sold us out. Democrats and Republicans have sold us out. No one is defending our interests. Our future is going up in flames.
It’s time for us to stand up and defend ourselves.
Trillions of dollars in fraudulent activity by the big banks on Wall Street caused our current economic crisis. Paid off politicians from both parties, along with secret deals made by the Federal Reserve, gave trillions of taxpayer dollars and subsidies to the very people who caused our crisis. After taking our tax dollars, they had the audacity to give themselves all-time recording-breaking bonuses and consolidate wealth in unprecedented fashion within the economic top 0.01% of the population.
While a record number of Americans are currently living in poverty and on food stamps; while millions of American families have been foreclosed upon; while health care, food and gas costs are skyrocketing; while over 200 million Americans are living paycheck to paycheck struggling to make ends meet, the super-wealthy have never had it better. We now have the most severe inequality of wealth in American history. The depravity of the Robber Barons has been outdone.
As their current policies prove, economic central planners have become so arrogant and tyrannical in their shortsighted greed. They think we are an ignorant and apathetic population that they can continue to exploit without fear of rebellion.
We are finally declaring that we have had enough. We will not remain passive while global banking interests destroy our future. We know the systemic causes of our current crisis and we are going to strike at the root.
On this Flag Day, June 14th, Operation Empire State Rebellion (#OpESR) will launch. #OpESR is a decentralized non-violent resistance movement to end the system of political bribery (campaign finance and lobbying) and break up the big banks centered at the Federal Reserve.
To coincide with the launch of this movement, people have begun organizing acts of resistance throughout the US. We are calling upon you to take an action of your own. Whether it’s taking part in a local public protest, withdrawing your money from one of the big six banks, starting a community group or passing out fliers. Anything you can do to rebel against the system of economic tyranny in a non-violent manner is welcome.
As a first step, please join the actions against the banks in one of the cities shown here, or use the ‘schedule an action’ tool to create your own.”
The online attention surrounding this call to action quickly grew. For a roundup of coverage see:
On June 11th, Anonymous A99 released “OpESR Communication #2: Ctrl+Alt+Bernanke.”
“In this new video release, ‘as a first step,’ Anonymous has called for public protests beginning on June 14th, continuing ‘until Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke steps down.’ To make their case, they have presented a list of recent scandalous Federal Reserve actions.”
Once again, the video was posted to the AmpedStatus YouTube account and ZeroHedge quickly picked it up and featured it. The video instantly went viral attracting over 360,000 views on the AmpedStatus YouTube account alone. It became popular enough to break through and get some coverage from the mainstream corporate media. MSNBC, Time, Bloomberg and Forbes were among many news outlets to cover it.
On June 13th, it was announced that as part this day of action a group of people will occupy Liberty Park, a strategic public space closest to Wall Street and the New York Federal Reserve building. This Anonymous statement was released:
Activists to Occupy Financial District’s Liberty Park Until Demands Are Met – Operation Empire State Rebellion Begins
“On June 14th at 1pm EST, a group of activists will begin occupation of Liberty Park (recently renamed Zuccotti Park) in lower Manhattan’s Financial District, a few blocks from Wall Street (14971 Broadway, 10007). A Google Map featuring the event states the following:
‘This Flag Day, Tuesday June 14th, we will launch a non-violent movement with this list of demands:
* End the campaign finance and lobbying racket
* Break up the Fed & Too Big to Fail banks
* Enforce RICO laws against organized criminal class
* Order Ben Bernanke to step down’
Gary Roland, an organizer of the action, says they will occupy the park ‘indefinitely, to express non-violent dissent to the further consolidation of wealth into the hands of international corporations by the corrupted two-party oligarchy. This is a non-violent action that seeks to express dissent and raise awareness of the failures of our current political discourse, until our demands are satisfied.’”
With only 16 people showing up at Liberty Park, and only four prepared to occupy it, this part of the day’s actions were considered by some to be a disappointing failure. Though this intense form of civil disobedience didn’t gain enough support at that time, the many other actions happening throughout the day were very successful.
Anonymous A99 issued an extensive report detailing the days actions: “OpESR Status Update: Empire State Rebellion Day 1.” In the report, the section on occupying Liberty Park reads:
“The most ambitious ground operation launched on Day 1 was in New York City’s Financial District, just a few blocks from Wall Street, at Liberty Park. The protest only attracted 16 people in total, with only 4 people ready to occupy the park indefinitely. While this operation was a fail due to lack of participants, we want to thank the event organizer Gary Roland and the three other people who were prepared to occupy the park: David DeGraw, Oren Clark and Kevin Dann.
Getting people to stand up in this way requires a very strong commitment that most people have not yet realized will be necessary and in their best interests. As we continue Awareness Operations and build momentum, we will reactivate this part of our Ground Operation at a future date. We have set up a social network group dedicated to planning this operation. If you are ready to peacefully occupy a public place, please join the planning group here.”
On the very same day as the launch of the Empire State Rebellion and the failed Liberty Park action, there was a group of activists assembling down the road from Liberty Park. They were preparing to set up camp in what became known as Bloombergville to protest against New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s budget cuts. Gary Roland, after leaving Liberty Park with a feeling frustration, decided to join the Bloomberg protests.
Enter the New York City General Assembly
During the Bloomberg protests a group of activists, including Gary Roland, formed a People’s General Assembly, which eventually evolved into the New York City General Assembly(NYCGA), to help facilitate an organized non-violent movement. After the two-week long Bloomberg occupation near the city capital building, the NYCGA kept meeting and building toward the next major protest event. The NYCGA would go on to play the most pivotal role on the ground, building a large turnout through old-fashioned grassroots community-based organizing.
As the NYCGA was being formed, Anonymous A99 debated the exact date in which they would return to Liberty Park for another attempt at achieving the occupation of Wall Street. They were committed to a strategy of three-month cycles. Their first communication was issued on March 12th, the second video calling for protests was released 90-days later on June 11th. They debated and it appeared that the next attempted occupation of Liberty Park would occur on September 10th.
Adbusters Makes the Call…
As the debate among Anonymous A99 was happening and a date for occupation was being finalized, Adbusters magazine issued an open call for an occupation of Wall Street on September 17th. Anonymous, A99 OpESR, US Day of Rage and the NYCGA quickly endorsed the action. With the NYCGA focused on community-based organizing, Adbusters, Anonymous, AmpedStatus, A99, US Day of Rage, WagingNonViolence and many other sites actively pushed out the message online urging people to take part in the action.
WeAreThe99Percent.com and OccupyWallSt.org were then Independently launched to directly support the action. Indymedia’s Global Revolution media team provided a livestream video feed to cover the event, which then inspired many more people to come and join the occupation once it had begun. It was this serendipitous confluence of decentralized Independent groups and thousands of individuals taking it upon themselves to take action that helped make the successful occupation of Liberty Park possible.
Note: There are definitely other significant groups that played a key role. In such a decentralized movement, it’s hard to keep track of all the efforts being put forth. We will feature other perspectives in the days ahead.
Ultimately, all of the groups mentioned throughout this report were just the seeds that helped launch what is now known as the #OccupyWallStreet 99% Movement. As the occupation of Liberty Park continues to grow and enters it’s third week, with no signs of protesters even considering leaving, the people most actively taking part are committed to remaining a decentralized leaderless movement based on the direct democratic process of deciding on future demands and actions through a consensus of those participating. In the spirit of the movement, people acting on their own have begun like-minded actions and occupations throughout the country.
The only unifying call to action seems to be:
“Anything you can do to rebel against the system of economic tyranny in a non-violent manner is welcome.”
As Anonymous A99 wrote in response to questions about their movement:
“We are a DECENTRALIZED non-violent movement. If you are looking to contact one of our leaders, go to the nearest mirror and peer deeply into it. It may take some time, but, eventually, one of our leaders will appear with answers to all of your questions.”
What more can you say?
As I’m typing this, the NYC General Assembly meeting just came to an end, I hear the sound of drums, looks like it’s time for another march. An NYPD officer who supports our efforts just gave me a nod and said, “Hey man, you better get back to the frontlines. The troops are on the move.” It’s another day of battle at Liberty Park.
The occupation of Wall $treet rages on…
New York Unions Vow To Support Wall Street Protesters
The group of young people who have set up camp in lower Manhattan in order to protest what they say is the corruption of Wall Street have been dismissed by some as being a disorganized movement with no real focus.
New York Magazine reports that next week, the professionals have vowed to help "Occupy Wall Street" put some people on the street:
Next week, the site will welcome members of New York's organized labor coalitions including the United Federation of Teachers, 32BJ SEIU, 1199 SEIU, Workers United, and Transport Workers Union Local 100, which voted unanimously last night to support the occupation. Other groups standing in solidarity include the Working Families party, the
Coalition for the Homeless, and MoveOn.org.
If you don't remember, the protesters in New York have taken inspiration from the protests in North Africa and the Middle East that make up the Arab Spring. They're camping out at Zucotti Park and, again in the spirit of the Arab Spring, "renamed it" Liberty Plaza.
Crain's New York Business has some analysis of what support from labor means:
Despite the common cause, the city's established left did not initially embrace the protest, which began Sept. 17 and has been made up mostly of young people angry about the widening income chasm in the country, the growing influence of money on politics and police brutality, among other issues.
But as the action nears the start of its third week, unions and community groups are eager to jump on board. They are motivated perhaps by a sense of solidarity and a desire to tap into its growing success, but undoubtedly by something else too—embarrassment that a
group of young people using Twitter and Facebook have been able to draw attention to progressive causes in a way they haven't been able to in years.
The protestors have transformed the park into a village of sorts, complete with a community kitchen, a library, a concert stage, an arts and crafts center and a media hub. All of that has enabled them not just to sustain the action but to build momentum. And as celebrities like Michael Moore, Susan Sarandon, Russell Simmons and Cornel West
have joined in, the city's traditional activists have been forced to jump into the fray. "It's become too big to ignore," said one political consultant.
That's also what the Village Voice heard from a TWU spokesman, who said the board voted unanimously to support the movement.
"Well, actually, the protesters, it's pretty courageous what they're doing," Jim Gannon told the alternatively weekly. "And it's brought a new public focus in a different way to what we've been saying along. While Wall Street and the banks and the corporations are the ones that caused the mess that's flowed down into the states and cities, it seems there's no shared sacrifice. It's the workers having to sacrifice while the wealthy get away scot-free. It's kind of a natural alliance with the young people and the students — they're voicing our
message, why not join them?"
Corporate Media and Larry Summers Team Up to Gut Public Education: Beyond Education for Illiteracy, Vulgarity and a Culture of Cruelty
Tuesday 27 September 2011
by: Henry A. Giroux, Truthout | Op-Ed
NOTE: This article is based on the preface of Henry A. Giroux's latest book, "Education and the Crisis of Public Values: Challenging the Assault on Teachers, Students and Public Education" (Counterpoints: Studies in the Postmodern Theory of Education), published by Peter Lang Publishing; First printing edition (July 30, 2011).
Since the early 1970s, the rich, corporate power brokers and right-wing cultural warriors realized that education was central to creating a viable populist movement that served their interests. Over the last 40 years, the financial elites and their wealthy accomplices have not only mobilized an educational anti-reform movement in the name of "reform" to dismantle public education and turn it over to hedge-fund managers and billionaires; they have also taken a lesson from the muckrakers, critical public intellectuals, left-wing journals, progressive newspapers and educational institutions of the mid-20th century and developed their own cultural apparatuses, talk shows, anti-public intellectuals, think tanks and grassroots organizations.
As the left slid into organizing around mostly single-issue movements since the 1980s, the right moved in a different direction, mobilizing a range of educational forces and wider cultural apparatuses as a way of addressing broader ideas that appealed to a wider public and issues that resonated with their everyday lives. Tax reform, the role of government, the crisis of education, family values and the economy, to name a few issues, were wrenched out of their progressive legacy and inserted into a context defined by the values of the free market, an unbridled notion of freedom and individualism and a growing hatred for the social contract.
At the heart of this movement was a culture of cruelty and vulgarity that used education to produce a new form of political illiteracy in which there was no difference between opinions and arguments, reason and emotion and evidence and false statements. In this culture of illiteracy, science became a liability, thinking became an act of stupidity, anti-intellectualism became a virtue, social protections were described as a pathology and the social contract was dismissed as socialism.
While social critic Michael Kazin does not mention the notions of education or public pedagogy in a recent New York Times article, he is right in stressing the centrality of education to the current right-wing-Christian-extremists takeover of almost every aspect of political and economic life in America - extending from the Supreme Court to the federal government to the dominant media-cultural educational apparatus. He writes: "Like the left in the early 20th century, conservatives built an impressive set of institutions to develop and disseminate their ideas. Their think tanks, legal societies, lobbyists, talk radio and best selling manifestos have trained, educated and financed two generations of writers and organizers.
Conservative Christian colleges both Protestant and Catholic, provide students with a more coherent worldview than do the more prestigious schools led by liberals. More recently, conservatives marshaled media outlets like Fox News and the editorial pages of The Wall Street Journal to their cause."(1)
Education has become the political weapon of choice for conservatives, and they have had astounding success in using the mainstream and new media to drown out the voices of more progressive critics.
The evidence is everywhere. For instance, The New York Times is currently advertising its Watch Education Take Center Stage initiative and the keynote address is being given by the politically and morally discredited champion of neoliberal education, Lawrence Summers. Given his failed presidency at Harvard, his utterly shameful role in contributing to the financial crisis of 2008 and the failure of Obama's economic policies and his crude instrumental view of education, why would The New York Times select him as an educational leader and beacon of hope for any kind of educational vision designed to address future generations?
Other speakers include the likes of Chester Finn, whose views on public education are as politically reactionary as they are theoretically bogus. Another example can be found in the ongoing Education Nation series sponsored on a number of platforms by NBC. It's endorsement of market-driven anti-public education policies are evident in its parading of the likes of Bill and Melinda Gates and their utterly anti-public, charter school, privatized and technocratic vision of education. Also included are the usual list of charter school, corporate funded anti-union, public school cheerleaders for defunding and privatizing American education. Of course, missing from these dog-and-pony shows are progressive public school reformers such as David Berliner, Stanley Aronowitz, Jonathan Kozol, Marian Wright Edelman, Donaldo Macedo, and others who have been fighting for real educational reform for the last few decades.
Nor is there any mention of the many local struggling social movements fighting for public education and the ever-dissolving protections of social contract inherited from the legacy of the New Deal and the Great Society programs. Education at all levels is firmly in the hands of the rich, reactionary and the powerful. Is it any wonder given how invisible progressive forces are in this country that young people are not in the streets as they were in the sixties, refusing the future being offered to them by Wall Street and the moralizing Christian fundamentalists?
Of course, this is not merely a debate about education; it is really about the emergence of an anti-reform movement that wants to create armies of low-skilled workers and consumers for the privatized, deregulated and commodified world of the 21st century where a survival of the fittest ethic has been elevated to the status of commonsense.
This is a world in which the culture of cruelty is now so commonplace that audiences clap when right-wing politicians insist that people who are terminally ill should die rather than receive government support; it is a world in which the legacies and injustice of slavery and the Jim Crow era now shape a criminal justice system in which capital punishment is largely used to kill black men while, at the same time, used by crass politicians to provoke political support and cheers from audiences who could have once sat in the seats of Roman coliseums watching people eaten by wild animals; the culture of cruelty is now matched by the culture of vulgarity - reality TV shows mimic the worst values of American life; celebrity culture is now so crude that it is worse than illiterate, and celebrities such as Kim Kardashian become role models for legitimating a lethal combination of vulgarity and stupidity.
The combination of vulgarity and illiteracy permeates American culture, particularly its political class. What is one to make of the current crop of Republic presidential candidates who claim, without irony, that climate change is not the result of human behavior; evolution is bad science; and in the case of the queen of idiocy, Michele Bachmann, ignore the most obvious scientific evidence about the HPV vaccine in order to make false claims about the value of this particular drug in saving the lives of young girls. In all of these examples, education becomes another way of making the larger public and young people either stupid or mindless consumers - even worse, both.
The American public needs access to a new political and educational vocabulary in order to fashion democratically vibrant educational institutions; social movements; community educational centers; bookstores; and a lively, independent press. Young people, educators, activists, artists, parents, and others need alternative media such as Truthout, AlterNet and CounterPunch as popular civic outlets to make education central to building the formative culture that would create new generations of real public intellectuals, youth activists, social movements and a vibrant range of public spheres.
I have taken up this issue in my newest book, "Education and the Crisis of Public Values." The book points to how educators and others can meet the current attack on education, young people and democracy itself. It offers a new vocabulary for better understanding the crisis of education as a crisis of democracy and public life, and provides a number of suggestions for what new beginnings are necessary, all of which is outlined in more detail throughout the book. Below is an excerpt from the preface that forecasts both the swindle of education offered by conservatives, the billionaires and corporate power brokers and why it needs to be resisted with as much urgency and collective power as possible.
With all due respect to Charles Dickens, it appears to be the worst of times for public and higher education in America; public schools are increasingly viewed as a business and are prized above all for "customer satisfaction," and efficiency while largely judged through the narrow lens of empirical accountability measures. When not functioning as a business or a potentially lucrative for-profit investment, public schools are reduced to containment centers, holding institutions designed to largely punish young people marginalized by race and class. No longer merely tracked into low-achieving classes, poor white, brown and black youth are now tracked out of school into what is often called the school-to-prison pipeline.
Schools have now become stress centers for the privileged and zones of abandonment for the poor. Public school teachers are now viewed as the new "welfare-queens," while academics are defined less as critical intellectuals and engaged scholars than as a new class or professional entrepreneurs. Under strict policies imposed in a number of states by right-wing politicians wrapping themselves in the rhetoric of austerity, higher education at all levels is being radically defunded while simultaneously being transformed into a credentializing factory restructured according to the values, social relations and governing practices of large corporations.
In both public and higher education, ignorance is not merely fostered, but embraced through the course content whose value is almost exclusively defined through a metaphysics in which anything that can't be quantified is defined as useless. Corporate pedagogy has no use for critical thinking, autonomous subjects, the stretching of the imagination, or developing a sense of civic responsibility among students. Teachers who think and act reflectively, ask uncomfortable questions, challenge the scripts of official power and promote a search for the truth while encouraging pedagogy as the practice of freedom are now viewed as suspect, if not un-American.
At the same time, amid all of the despair and foolishness on the part of right-wing politicians and conservative and corporate interests, it is not entirely clear that a spring of hope is beyond reach. As I wrote this preface, workers and young people were marching and demonstrating all over the globe against the dictates, values and policies of a market-driven economy that has corrupted politics, pushed democracy to its vanishing point and undermined public values. Unions, public school teachers, higher education, and all of those public spheres necessary to keep civic values alive are being challenged in a way that both baffles and shocks anyone who believes in the ideals and promises of a substantive democracy.
In the United States, union-busting politicians such as Govs. Scott Walker (Wisconsin) and Chris Christie (New Jersey) not only want to gut social services and sell them off to the highest bidder, they are also symptomatic of a political fringe movement that wants to destroy the critical culture, dedicated public servants and institutions that give any sense of vitality, substance and hope to public and higher education in the United States.
As the meaning of democracy is betrayed by its transformation into a market society, corporate power and money appear unchecked in their ability to privatize, deregulate and destroy all vestiges of public life. America's military wars abroad are now matched by the war at home; that is, the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya have found their counterpart in the war against the poor, immigrants, young people, unions, public-sector workers, the welfare state and schoolteachers.
The call for shared sacrifices on the part of conservatives and Tea Party extremists becomes code for destroying the social state, preserving and increasing the power of mega-rich corporations and securing the wealth of the top one percent of the population with massive tax breaks while placing the burden of the current global economic meltdown on the shoulders of working people and the poor. Deficit reductions and austerity policies that allegedly address the global economic meltdown caused by the financial hawks running Wall Street now do the real work of stripping teachers of their collective bargaining rights, dismantling programs long associated with social services and relegating young people to mind-deadening schools and a debt-ridden future.
David Harvey's notion of "accumulation through dispossession" has become a basic policy of casino capitalism. How else to interpret the right-wing call to tax the poor to subsidize tax breaks for billionaires and mega corporations? Despair, disposability and unnecessary human suffering now engulf large swaths of the American people, often pushing them into situations that are not merely tragic, but life threatening. A survival-of-the-fittest ethic has replaced any reasonable notion of solidarity, social responsibility and compassion for the other.
Ideology does not seem to matter any longer as right-wing Republicans have less interest in argument and persuasion than in bullying their alleged enemies with the use of heavy-handed legislation and, when necessary, dire threats, as when Wisconsin's Republican Gov. Scott Walker threatened to mobilize the National Guard to prevent teachers' unions from protesting their possible loss of bargaining rights and a host of anti-worker proposals.
Obama has joined the Republican Party, leaving us with a Republican Party lite and a Republican Party of extremists. We have become a culture of forgetting, obliterating both the legacy of authoritarianism that characterized the Bush-Cheney years, while supporting a new group of Republican politicians who resemble Bush and Cheney on steroids.
We are more than a nation in decline; we are a nation moving toward the bittersweet simplisms, policies and values of a new form of authoritarianism. With any viable leadership lacking at the national level, both young people and workers are watching the movements for democracy that are taking place all over the globe, but especially in the volatile Arab nations and in Western European countries such as France, England and Germany.
Struggles abroad give Americans a glimpse of what happens when individual solutions to collective problems lose their legitimacy as a central tenet of neoliberal ideology.
Massive demonstrations, pitched street battles, nonviolent gatherings, the impressive use of the new media as an alternative political and educational tool and an outburst of long-repressed anger eager for collective action are engulfing many countries across the globe. In smaller numbers, such protests are also taking place in a number of cities around the United States.
Many Americans are, once again, invoking democracy, rejecting its association with the empty formality of voting and its disingenuous use to legitimate and justify political systems that produce massive wealth and income inequality. Democracy's promises are laying bare the sordid realities that now speak in its name. Its energy is becoming infectious, and one can only hope that those who believe that education is the foundation of critical agency, politics and democracy itself will be drawn to the task of fighting America's move in the last 30 years to a politically and economically authoritarian system.
At issue here is the need for a new vocabulary, vision and politics that will unleash new democratic movements, institutions and a formative culture capable of imagining a life and society free of the dictates of endless military wars, boundless material waste, extreme inequality, disposable populations and unfounded human suffering. Central to "Education and the Crisis of Public Values" is the belief that no change will come unless education both within and outside of formal schooling is viewed as central to any viable notion of politics.
If real reform is going to happen, it has to put in place a viable, critical, formative culture that supports notions of engaged citizenship, civic courage, public values, dissent, democratic modes of governing and a genuine belief in freedom, equality and justice.
Ideas matter as do the human beings and institutions that make them count and that includes those intellectuals both in and out of schools who bear the responsibility of providing the conditions for Americans of all ages to be able to think critically so they can act imaginatively - so they can embrace a vision of the good life as a just life, one that extends the values, practices and vision of democracy to everyone.
Michael Kazin, "Whatever Happened to the American Left?" New York Times (September 25, 2011), p. SR4.
HENRY A. GIROUX
Henry A. Giroux currently holds the Global TV Network Chair Professorship at McMaster University in the English and Cultural Studies Department. His most recent books include: Youth in a Suspect Society (Palgrave, 2009); Politics After Hope: Obama and the Crisis of Youth, Race, and Democracy (Paradigm, 2010); Hearts of Darkness: Torturing Children in the War on Terror (Paradigm, 2010); The Mouse that Roared: Disney and the End of Innocence (co-authored with Grace Pollock, Rowman and Littlefield, 2010); Zombie Politics and Culture in the Age of Casino Capitalism (Peter Lang, 2011); Henry Giroux on Critical Pedagogy (Continuum, 2011). His newest books: Education and the Crisis of Public Values (Peter Lang) and Twilight of the Social: Resurgent Publics in the Age of Disposability (Paradigm Publishers) will be published in 2012). Giroux is also a member of Truthout's Board of Directors. His website iswww.henryagiroux.com.