Friday, July 22, 2011

Charter Schools: A Political View

What are charter schools really about? That is, other than the smokescreen that consists of arguments that these schools will educate better than public schools, what power interests do they serve? Here is a possibility.

Charter schools are another part of an attempt to undermine the idea and the practice of citizenship in the U.S., and this is a cause that all oligarchs support. This agenda is nothing new to the U.S. as vocational schools were created in part to convince young people to think of themselves as "workers," not as citizens, and to teach them in a way that they would not and could not learn those lessons that free citizens need to learn, e.g., the ways of tyranny. Of course, this task continues today and has been advanced by the prevalence of "vocational" majors, like accounting, business, or even human services, in colleges and universities. The charter school movement is part of this "movement" and it works as follows.

If we replace public schools with charter schools, we will remove one of the strongest incentives that bring human beings into the public arena where they learn, willy nilly, to act like citizens. Public schools in this way actually generate or create citizens and, of course, force people to think of themselves as citizens and, thereby, to take politics seriously. Now, if we get rid of public schools, replacing them with charter/private schools, this incentive to be or act like citizens disappears. People will become "clients" or, better yet, "consumers" of educational products, including schools. So the charter school movement is yet another part of the attempt to turn us into "consumers," to encourage us to think of ourselves not as citizens but as those who are purchasing a service, which in this case is called "education."

And one question is: What happens to us as human beings if we no longer think of ourselves as citizens,that is, we no longer think of ourselves as being responsible for acting in the public arena for the purpose of influencing or even controlling government? The prospect does not seem good. A further question: What happens to a government that is able to do as it wishes because those it governs no longer think of themselves as playing a role in their own governing? Again, the prospect does not seem good. And what happens to a people who think it is futile to try to influence "their" government, or think of political activity as futile and, hence, retreat into entertainment to watch "reality shows" [because they all know that political activity by unelected human beings is not "real"] or into a virtual world to play games and even pretend to be "connected" to hundreds if not thousands of "friends"? Again, the prospect does not seem good.

And yet, there it is: A charter school movement supported even by those who claim to be the advocates of a renewed sense of citizenship, a reinvigorated patriotism or public spiritedness. This is, to my mind, much stranger than fiction.

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