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Chicago Teacher Makes Sense

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« on: September 16, 2012, 10:09:12 am »

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« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2012, 10:37:33 am »

What this teacher says reflects to a great extent what I have seen in my own, 'non-union' community too.  People who flee public education are usually the critics of things they fail to get involved with and have the means to flee. The teachers in public school whom I have met over the years have been beaten down and deprived of resources for years, mostly to satisfy the convenience of administrators in the layers of bureaucracy above them.  My opinion is that school policy in general is not about education, but rather about administrative convenience. I was about to say 'administrative comfort', but that is a little too harsh--although the air conditioning remarks are a beautiful way to make the same point.

My wife and I often argue about educational methods, she being from Japan where things are quite different and to my mind more sensible. But we don't live in Japan, and we don't live in Germany, and a thousand other places which have different ideas about education.  While he is an outlier, JOhn Gatto is someone who I believe best understands how America got to where it is with its notions of education. He may not have solutions that satisfy (although some are worth a try), but his general thesis--that public schools were intended to pacify and make obedient workers rather than make critical thinkers-- is one that makes an enormous amount of sense when you now see where America is. And where is that? We are the work-force of ever expanding, globalized corporations who want nothing more than profit. 

I have referred before to Henry George, an economist of the late 1800's. He makes a powerful argument about capitalism which goes unheard today. Part of that argument is simple and true:  the "capital" in capitalism is worth absolutely nothing without the "labor" that renders it valuable.  When Mitt Romney or Timmie Geithner or Jack Welch tells you they need lower taxes so the "capitalist" can make a business and create jobs, then he assumes the primacy of capitalism relation to labor.  They think "capital" comes first.

That is stupid on its face. Capital is an idle resource until labor is there to give it value. There is no "primacy" of capital.

I am not saying labor assumes primacy. I am saying Labor--with a captial "L"-- is the EQUAL of Capital with a capital "C".
This is one reason why I really like the remarks of the Chicago teacher's union.  They know what a lot of people need to learn.
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