September 16, 2012

Do the rich want public education to fail?

That's a provocative statement, at least, but it's one that Doug Henwood of the Left Business Observer has no problem making. The linked article is from 2011, but he promises a fuller coverage in the next issue of LBO.

Let's say he's right.

The next questions are ... why, with specifics, do the rich want this? 


First, how is public schooling funded? Property taxes? The rich can shelter their income, or have it as capital gains, or whatever, but a McMansion is a McMansion. Paying teachers less, buying less for classrooms, etc., keeps property taxes lower on the rich while letting them pander to the middle class.

Now, a state like Texas has its "Robin Hood" laws ... but don't you doubt that the rich will fight such things more and more.

Now, the second reason.

If more people have less education, you have another reason to pay them less.

Those two reasons loiok primarily at the K-12 level. The rich also undercut collegiate education for the non-rich, though. 

First, more and more financial aid has shifted from grants to loans, and from government-guaranteed loans to totally private ones with higher interest rates. 

Second, for-profit colleges are abounding, including ripping off military veterans.

Third, public colleges are being run more and more like big businesses. That includes a growing divide between tenure-track and non-tenure-track teachers, even when the latter are full time. Adjunct instructors, of course, are really getting reamed.  (It's as bad as the newspaper biz. Maybe worse.)

Finally, this is just the financial picture.

We haven't talked about whether the standardized testing burdens in K-12 hit the poor and minorities harder in some ways, whether well-intentioned or not. Nor have we discussed the whole issue of academic content, and how conservative/American exceptionalist it may trend. James van Loewen's "Lies Across America" and similar books by him are a good starting point.

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