When Corporate Capitalism intrudes into areas that should logically be run according to a strictly non-profit model, things get out of whack and you have the School District Administrators of bankrupt school districts getting $100k raises while kids in their district share sparse school books and make do with minimal art supplies. Because the corporate model assigns little inherent value to the needs of the individual worker (provided it doesn’t reduce productivity), and under a corporate-modeled school system, students are “workers” and the product they produce is “grades.” Those grades get traded for money under the back-assward “No Child Left Behind” system, encouraging the whole system to cheat in order to increase potential financial rewards.
Corporations reward top management for squeezing productivity from workers while cutting costs to increase the bottom line. Why shouldn’t we expect a corporate-modeled school system to do the same?
Meanwhile, every time teachers get squeezed to make up for reduction in state funding, some band together and retaliate by striking. Which happens regularly in the American workforce (except not to Walmart and similar corporations who ruthlessly crush any unionization by their hapless wage slaves). Fair is fair, right? Unfortunately, it’s NOT the school district that suffers from lengthy teacher strikes— it’s students and their parents. Defiant School District management can cross their arms and smirkingly suspend classes as those managers continue to pull down six figure salaries while classrooms sit empty. Because empty classrooms REDUCE THE OVERHEAD. Striking teachers suffer, students and parents suffer… but tax money rolls in. Eventually teachers must be put back to work administering tests, producing the grades that ensure continued funding… but where’s the incentive to fix anything? Such disputes inevitably degrade into a lengthy pissing-match over who gets to pocket the most tax dollars next semester.
No surprise. The American school system is patterned after the industrial factory system popularized in the 19th century (so is the prison system, but that’s a whole other rant). That system requires students to be classifed for batch processing, so it categorizes children NOT according to aptitude or personal talents or abilities, but according to manufacture date: by age.
Students get labelled “smart” and “dumb” within narrow categories by running them through a memorization gauntlet and grading them according to how well they conform to median average measurements, punishing and socially traumatizing them if they show any idiosyncrasies or deviation from the acceptable standard. That’s NOT an efficient way to train young minds to think— it’s how bored, overworked produce workers sort fruit for a grocer’s bin.
Some parents use the public school system as a state-funded babysitting service—but it’s also a social training ground instructing kids in the finer points of financial class bigotry, social and cultural intolerance, and bureaucratic indifference. We spend billions in tax dollars on zero-tolerance anti-bullying campaigns that only encourage bullies to hide deeper and find sneakier outlets of expression. During their most important formative period of interpersonal socialization, we drop our kids off in the care of strangers (shoving them into a competitive battlezone) and hope they’ll work things out on their own. But conveyor-belts and production-lines— those celebrated tools of industrial manufacturing— don’t work very well when each product is so unique.
Some corporate interests want our public school system privatized and run as a business. But efficient business manufacturing demands the capability of discarding defective merchandise that fails to pass inspection at the end of the line.
I suggest it would be wiser to pay more attention to our teachers, and keep corporatization OUT of the “people-making” business.