Both of the parties that serve corporate America, the Democrats and the Republicans, are responsible for the deterioration of conditions in the schools. In Pennsylvania, where I have taught for the past 15 years, I have seen education systematically undermined under both Democratic and Republican governors and Democratic and Republican presidents.
The Bush administration devised its “No Child Left Behind” program to promote over-testing of children and punitive closing of schools as a bipartisan measure with the leading liberal Democrat, Senator Edward Kennedy. This has been succeeded by Obama’s “Race to the Top” program, which uses financial grants to a handful of states to promote school privatization and mass firings of teachers as in Central Falls, Rhode Island.
The assault on public education is an outcome of the growth of social inequality in America, which, in turn, is the product of the historical decay of American and world capitalism. The immense and growing chasm between the top 1 percent of society and the broad mass of the population is incompatible with democratic principles and the social reforms of the past, including the establishment of public education.
The expansion of public education in the 19th and 20th centuries was driven by a profound belief that in a democracy, every citizen should be literate and have access to culture, and that every child—whether their parents were former slaves, day laborers or immigrants who spoke no English—was educable. Moreover, it was well understood that cold, hungry and needy children could not learn as well as their peers. For this reason, educators fought for social reforms to provide a minimal safety net to children and families in poverty.
Public education was one of the best moves this country made. They made it in part to socialize every into the system, to preach conformity. But that also required teaching the basics such as reading. Once you can read, you have the choice to read just what they want you too or to pursue your own readings. Once you can read, they really can't hold you back from knowledge unless they practice censorship.
The attacks on public education are frightening. It's as though they want to attack the covered wagon next. Or the pioneers. Public education allowed the country to move forward and gave people a shot at (limited) mobility. (Limited due to our economic structure in this country.)
"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):