Public Education Should Be a Right Not a Commodity
Twenty years ago, NAFTA declared that public education was no longer a social right; instead it was declared a “service” that could be traded, bought and sold as a commodity. Since then, corporations have seized control of public education from Canada to Argentina. Governments have openly collaborated with corporations to privatize public education in multiple ways.
Media Mogul Rupert Murdoch has declared that private investing in US public education is a $500 billion market. Corporations can expect this payday by creating a new infrastructure for public education based on electronics. Already, student loans are the third most profitable single business in the country (after Exxon and Apple), producing $41.3 billion in profits for the federal government last year. This profit was distributed by the government to the various corporations who “service” the debt!
Corporate propaganda constantly claims that public schools are failing and that “bad teachers” and their unions are the enemy. There is no doubt that public education has been deliberately crippled and under-funded for generations. However, if schools with a poverty rate over 50% are dropped from the comparison, US schools score the highest in the world. Government guarantees the poverty that cripples our communities by refusing to guarantee public rights.
In the US, public education appears to be funded locally. Indeed, every local government in the country signs the checks. But the political control of public education is squarely in the hands of the federal government with Obama’s Race To The Top (RTTT) program and many other policies. RTTT breaks with the historic principle of funding education based on guaranteeing equality. RTTT funds only those school districts that agree to various forms of corporate control over their educational program.
Federal political control guarantees the fragmentation of educational funding. This creates the market for corporations to seize control of the schools. At the same time, we are told that education is all about getting a good job, even though the jobs that can support a family are being devoured by automation.
Public education needs a new Vision for the Future, a vision where every child can be educated to his/her fullest potential, a vision where corporations don’t control the jobs that people need.
Every battle for public education begins as a local battle against local government. Every local victory is subsequently strangled by lack of funding at the local and state level. The real funding to guarantee equal quality public education for all exists only at the federal level. This reality demands that local struggles link up and begin to pressure the federal government to nationalize public education in the name of the people, not corporations.