Dec 12, 2013
Liberal ‘Confusion’ About America’s Education Problem
Posted on Aug 8, 2013
Neoliberalism, the economic doctrine that favors zero government regulation of commerce and other activities, is giving American education to the corporations, and well-meaning but deluded liberals are complicit in the takeover, New Jersey City University education professor Lois Weiner writes at Jacobin.
America’s school system is not without faults. But the belief, widely held among Americans, that education in the United States is broken has allowed serious-seeming individuals who appear to be on the side of right for advocating for the improvement of schooling to con people who are concerned with the social welfare into accepting and in many cases advancing the relinquishing of control over education from the once somewhat democratically controlled state to private companies seeking profits.
This shift comes most popularly in the form of charter schools. The culture war over education has been so seductive and successful that capitalists have recently made Hollywood movies depicting caring mothers paradoxically fighting for the right to surrender their children’s education to men in boardrooms. (Read Liza Featherstone’s criticism of the film “Won’t Back Down” in Dissent).
“The bipartisan education project,” described by Weiner, consists of “privatization, testing and attacks on teacher unions.” It has “subjected schools and teachers to ‘free market’ policies” taken “wholesale from right-wing think tanks and functions.”
Weiner is at times too charitable in her criticism of liberals—they are described as “confused” rather than knowingly and willfully being taken in by the Dark Side—but there are gems of judgment in her writing. For example: “… for way too long, liberals assumed that schools could be ‘fixed’ without tackling social and economic inequality,” and “Advocating charter schools to boost academic outcomes for poor, minority kids presumes that we can provide equal educational opportunity and simultaneously maintain a status quo of segregated housing and schooling. If you are unwilling to wage the unpopular fight for residential and school integration and equalized (and adequate) school funding, charter schools can seem a ‘good enough’ compromise. The controversy over charter schools is symptomatic of liberalism’s unwillingness to face racism’s embeddedness in almost every aspect of education.” (Italics added.)
And finally: “Because of their ideological confusion, liberals can’t imagine alternative social and political arrangements, so when their political friends betray them, they tend to either deny the reality or excuse it as inevitable and look for the new shining hope.”
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.
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