Answer to privatization of schools

Oh the complexity of it all and the problematic nature of a conversation that is in bad need of a viable focal point, that point of necessity being the valid goals of education for some sort of society, the nature of that society another necessary point for discussion. I do not like the idea of privatizing schools. I do not like corporate influence in the regular public schools and I do not like schools that train students to serve a society that has been shaped to serve corporate goals. I have seen the public schools be made to serve goals that are said to be in the best interests of students because they help students “succeed” in the real world. I have watched as public schools help students fit in to the reality that exists even if that reality is a highly problematic one that needs to be fixed by citizens well informed enough and thoughtful enough to understand the problem and figure out what needs to be done to solve it.

I have seen public school programs that are little about critical thought and almost all about acceptance of what one is told by those in authority. I have watched as those in charge have eradicated creative activity and individual expression. I have seen the textbooks and the teacher manuals with their correct answers and I have seen teachers rewarded for sticking with the program even if they do not understand or approve of the real goals of the program. I have watched thoughtful teachers leave the schools because they have been hamstrung by the curriculum and methods dictated by the authorities, many of they leaving teaching because they are penalized for thinking for themselves and restrained from being responsive and creative mentors of those they so badly want to educate well. I have heard those I know to be the best say that the “well” as defined by their schools is not the “well” they know to be in the best interests of their students. I have watched as many a teacher has capitulated to demands they find odious, counter to their understanding of intellectual development and the development in students of the kinds of understandings that will allow them to make good decisions for themselves and for others as participants in the societal decision making processes of a functionally sensible democracy.

There should be no private schools. There should be a public school system that is good enough for all because it is effective in teaching students what they need to live decent lives, possessing the ability to do for themselves and their society what is necessary and right in the context of basic principles such as the equality of all and the right of all to equal opportunity to succeed.

I can name a hundred or more features of the public schools I know of and the systems in which they exist that are fowl–the competitiveness, the emphasis on blind loyalty to school, the emphasis on conformity and obedience, the lack of respect for individuality, the pervasiveness of boredom brought on by curriculum and methods keyed to goals that are more about controlling thought than provoking it. I have sat in many a classroom and watched what looked more like indoctrination than inspiration. I have seen students punished for speaking out and acting out when such would be the appropriate response of a thoughtful persons to the condition he or she is being forced to endure.

Maybe I am not seeing things well but many students and some parents have told me that they do not like what is going on in the schools they or their children attend. And I sat in too many classroom where I was bored and where students weren’t being asked to think and where their thinking was ignored because of time constraints and the large numbers in the class, all of who could not possibly be heard because if all were heard the teacher could not get through the curriculum and prepare students for the assessments that would eventually come.

So, if we want schools that are good enough so that there is no desire among those who have a legitimate desire for their children to get the education they deserve, if we want schools that are legitimized by the righteousness of their goals and by the methods that are so good as to insure that most if not all will achieve those good goals, WE NEED TO BE HONEST ABOUT WHERE WE NOW STAND IN TERMS OF HAVING RIGHTEOUS GOALS and then we can think about how we achieve them and do the proper kind of evaluation to determine whether or not they have been achieved.

PUBLIC SCHOOLS SHOULD BE EMINENTLY DEFENSIBLE BECAUSE THEY DO WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE TO GET WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE DONE. No sensible person should want to send their kids anywhere else and no student should want to leave the schools they are in because they are just that good.

Pleasant China amongst the masses

I have been in China since the 2nd of July.  I think a lot about the United States.  I read the news from home and I watch CNN, BBC, and sometimes CCTV and RT.  I also read China Daily.  I think a lot about the United States and I cannot say that I am any less comfortable living life in China than I am living life in the United States.  In fact, I am very comfortable here and very uncomfortable when thinking about home.  I have written some about the way I am thinking about the thoughts I have had most of my life about democracy, about popular democracy.  I was first in China 17 years ago.  This trip I have visited several of the places I visited then and on subsequent trips over the years.  This is my fourth time in China.  Over the course of 17 years China has visibly developed, developed in amazing ways in terms of livability.  I have now been, this trip, in at least four big cities (small cities here often have populations over one million), great cities with modern building and hundreds more filling the skyline, most of these high rise living units to accommodate more and more people in modern housing.  The cities have fast and efficient metro systems and the street grid has been reworked ingeniously to accommodate the ever increasing numbers of cars owned by individuals.  As I said before, one can, for what is a reasonable fair for good numbers of Chinese people, on trains that link the country together that travel at high speeds, safely and efficiently.

Literacy is growing.  Educational institutions are increasing in number.  Science and technological development projects are well funded and universities, colleges, and technical schools arise here as fast as franchise bad food places do in the United States.

There is much here that would make life in our country better.  There is much here that causes me to think of the United States as a backward country.  There is much here to make me think that while the Chinese system may not be what is best for us or, perhaps even the Chinese, it is a system that, despite what so many Americans think, a far more humane system than the one American’s consistently protect with their votes.

I may have reached the point where I do no longer believe in the American democracy.  I may have said that before.

I am ever more convinced that a sensible and human democracy cannot exist if the people of the society are not capable of making sensible, sane, and humane decisions.

There is considerable evidence to show that the American people are not so capable.  The members of the House Judiciary Committee were elected to office by American voters!  We have idiots in office because members of the American voting public put them there.

So, if I contrast the two societies as I understand them now–not so well either to say I know for certain what they are about, but as much knowledge in hand as I ever have had to make judgments about them–I can say that the Chinese is considerably more pleasant maybe because of the attitudes I sense I am encountering on the streets that is one of life is pretty damned good.  Is it?  There is much about the places I have visited to say it is.

NATO

Short note: NATO and Trump–What would more money for the “alliance” of “allies” be spent on and who would most benefit?  Such issues need be considered before judgements are made about fairness.  Too, what would the “delinquent” and “unwilling to pay their fair share” nations have to do in order to comply with the demands of the Trump administration?

Most likely, actually inevitably, the largest share of the money will go to private defense contractors, the makers of implements of war, the weapons manufacturers and the other industries that produce war materials.

In large part, the call for more money for NATO is as much about the welfare of already rich for selling the tools of death companies as it is about necessary levels of defense capability.  The merchants of death first and foremost serve their owners, these mostly those with enough money already to invest heavily in the stock markets.

The costs of increased military spending in many of the countries Trump is targeting will necessitate cuts in programs that are for the people of these countries, in social welfare programs such as those hated by our capitalists such as socialized medicine and education.  A part of what the American role in NATO is, like the role of the “benevolent” capitalist organizations such as the WTO, is to strengthen capitalism, the predatory and inhumane form of capitalism sponsored by the United States.

So, when Trump threatens to undermine NATO he is bullshitting.  Corporate America makes incredible profits off the alliance.  When liberals rise to condemn Trump for not being nice to NATO, really, if they think about it, they are lending support to an organization that IS all about the military industrial complex Ike warned of so many years ago.  Trump’s bullying is not about what is good for the American people.  It is not the American people who will benefit from a cost reduction in American military spending–the bully has already called for considerable increases.  There will be no new spending affecting the social welfare of the American people–better schools, better medical care, better transportation systems, cleaner air, for example–only increased profits for the already fat and ugly defense industry.

 

 

Spreading death for the sake of a strong economy

https://giffords.org/2018/07/gun-manufacturers-want-to-sell-more-guns-abroad-the-trump-administration-is-here-to-help/

Gun manufactures want to sell more guns abroad and the Trump administration is here to help.”  This appeared at giffords.org, a group that is an impediment to the free market.

Selling arms has been a very lucrative American business for many years so this is but a request for some help in enhancing the trade.  What sells well is what makes the capitalist economy strong.  If it kills, that is the cost to other people for business doing business.

War is good for business!  Murder of hundreds of thousands of people in the transaction makes for good scenes for movies and television and video games.

 

Baby’s health and profitable markets

U.S. Opposition to Breast-Feeding Resolution Stuns World Health Officials

 

 

There is a story in the NY Times about the USA bulling other countries to not support a resolution, based on years of research, that calls upon civilized nations to encourage parents to opt for breast milk if breast milk is an option because the research shows that breast milk makes for healthier babies.  The USA opposed the measure, it is reported, to satisfy the demands of the baby formula industry, an industry that promotes formula as equal to or better than breast milk for reasons that are all about profits and nothing to do with concern for the welfare of children.

 

The article points out that the Trump administration blackmailed other countries, mainly poor countries that receive aid from the USA, Ecuador withdrawing its sponsorship after, reportedly, threats were made.

 

This is a Trump story. But it is also a WHY Trump story and a story that is at least as much about the modern USA in the world and its inhuman manipulation of world politics to serve something far different than freedom, the common good, the welfare of people, the welfare of children. This story is about capitalism and those whose thievery is justified by it being the only concern of the government of this nation.

 

If this is not understood, if the evidence that abounds is not heeded, then there is every good reason for the world, the humane and decent elements in the world, to look elsewhere for leadership.  Capitalism will do everything it can to survive and in particular, its supporters will do everything possible to insure that no alternatives are given the chance for consideration.  It is only seems as good as it seems to people because it is backed by the biggest propaganda machine ever created, the advertising industry, its constant lies a central part of the reality by which most people live.  Paradoxically, good numbers of people know this and have come to accept the lies as something with at least as much veracity as obvious truths.

 

If one can look at a story such as this and not cringe, not consider how “normal” a part of life the notion that corporate good is more important than human good is, cannot see how wretchedly ridiculous this is and how dangerous to every aspect of life this is, than there is something very wrong with them.  And there are a lot of people with whom something is very wrong because they refuse to see that the market is not benevolent, that the market exists to fulfill first corporate “needs” and human needs only if there is a profit is to be made.  If the bad can produce greater revenues than the good, than, corporately speaking, the good is bad and the bad is good.

 

Propaganda has sold lies as a truth, deception as a necessity of life.  Trumpism is just a more virulent form.  Or maybe not.  Maybe it is just a more transparent form that allows the actors to be more visibly rotten and ugly.  Maybe Trumpism is capitalist/corporate society straight up, the mask of civility removed and everything mean allowed to celebrate itself before the public.

 

It really is amazing how much rottenness is ignored daily by those who live in modern capitalist countries, under the corporatist regime and how so many think tyranny is something they have not experienced.  I do not think it hysterical or overblown to say that the people I know and live with are blinded by a kind of artificial light that is produced that dazzles, that distracts, that recreates before the eyes a false sense of what can and should be, a can and should be that good and humane people, if they knew any better, would never allow, would fight tooth and nail against.  Somehow they believe in a system that is, by nature, if it is to “work,” cruel.

 

Trump is the ugly monster we have helped to create.  He is the real face of mothers being taught to misfeed their children.  He is the face of people being denied medical care because providing it is not “cost effective.”  He is the face of new leadership that bluntly debases people to insure corporate friends a better bottom line.  He is the anti-United Nations forces who see cooperation an evil because the game played well means winners win no matter what the cost to others.

 

An earlier post linked an article that described Obama’s plan to deal with high drug prices, not by forcing manufacturers to lower prices but to better spread the cost around the world so the manufacturers and their stockholders can maintain profit levels even if it means that some people who could be treated will not be because of the cost.

 

That is the sensible world envisioned for the world by our capitalism.  I say bad.  Really fucking bad.

 

 

Degrees of freedom and the distribution of freedoms

I am in China and I am being surveilled.  I am on a boat and I know there are cameras watching me.  If I use WiFi I cannot use Twitter or Facebook.  This comes to you via a cell phone connection.  I am not free to carry a gun.  I can watch CNN but Fox News seems to be unavailable.  I can walk the streets of big cities at night without fear of being harmed.  I am not as free here as I am in the United States.  The government here, I have always been told, is repressive.  I cannot build what I want wherever I want and cannot even live where I want to live without permission.  The skies in the cities are brown from air pollution. If I were a Chinese citizen, I might not be able to read whatever I want whenever I want.  If I am amongst the 99% of those covered, I can get decent health care from little to nothing.  If I am very wealthy I can pay for health care at a higher level than that afforded others.  If the government decides to build a new high speed rail line and they need my land to do it, they can move me.  I am compensated but I must move if they tell me to do so.  I can ride high speed trains that go to most ever region of the country now and will be everywhere very soon.  In the cities I can ride most everywhere on metro systems that are efficient and allow for comfortable—though crowded—travel to most points.

 

I can eat very good food. It is abundant and affordable. The governments controls agriculture though there is some room for farmers to make some money on the side. There is currently a project to increase the amount of money farmers are able to make.  All farmers are provided the best tools science has to offer.  The goal of the state is to feed well all of the people.  There are socio-economic classes here.  There are some very rich people who benefit from new economic policies that allow for capitalistic enterprise to exist.  A good portion of the profit is taken by the government and used to pay for infrastructure and other projects that are said to be for the benefit of the people.  My sense is that millions upon millions are benefiting from these projects.  China is rapidly building housing units and roads and schools and colleges and water systems and funding medical and agriculture and the other sciences at high levels.  The benefits of such do seem to be coming to at least most if not all of the people.

 

In China the president is chosen by the Communist Party.  The Party membership is about 20,000,000 in a country of 1.4 billion. Most of the people do not get to vote for those who run the central government.  People do choose some of their local officials but I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that the central government has some say in these elections. I did hear, when in one of the cities we have visited, that the people pressed the local government to change the way in which students are selected for high school (one must achieve a certain score on a test to attend) so that more would be able to enter and that more high schools be organized.  The mayor pressed the central government for the changes and they are now being implemented.

 

I am certain that the school curriculum is made to shine a favorable light on the Chinese system of government and that westerners observing would say that the students were being propagandized.  I cannot say honestly that that does not happen in western countries such as the United States.  I do not remember anything good being taught me concerning alternative economic systems when I was a student.  I do remember the cons of communism and socialism being taught with nothing about what the pros might be, that nothing was ever directly said about the problems of capitalism though slavery did come up (hard to hide) and maybe something about poverty, the latter discussed not as a residual of capitalism but of other things that were not the fault of the system.

 

I can practice religion here but the state does not support it.  The ruling Communist Party is made up of people who are not religious, are communists in part because they see religion as harmful to the good of the state. They allow religion but they tacitly—and in way explicit—advocate against and do not allow religion in anyway to infiltrate the schools or other public institutions.  Pat Robertson. Mr. Graham, and Mr. Falwell and their followers would find it hard to get their names recognized for anything other than being deceivers and scoundrels.   I have seen no give your money to me for Jesus programming on TV.  Yes, what is on TV is controlled by the state and those who own media companies cannot broadcast anything they may want to over China’s airwaves.

 

I said before that the people do not vote for their leaders and that the government imposes restrictions on people’s freedom.  This is a difficult aspect of the current political system in China for an American to accept.  I am thinking a lot about the fact that I really enjoy much of what I experience here including the spirit of the people under what Americans like to call a repressive government.  It may be that the people are forced to pretend that they like the lives they are living but they do seem to be.  Perhaps they really do want to tell us that they would leave if they could.  If so, the acting is nothing short of magnificent. We have been in train  stations—everywhere, new and ultra-modern—with thousands upon thousands of people with nice suitcases and smiling children lovingly holding their Hello Kitty toys, their parents too seeming to be enjoying the prospect of spending their vacation time in enjoyable ways.  Whereas the tourist sites and the trains to tourist destinations were filled mostly with .foreigners when we first visited these same places 17 years ago, they are mostly about Chinese folk now.  We, foreigners, are outnumbered by hundreds of thousands to one at these incredible sites.  So much better!!!

 

I will write more. There is a lot to think about and probably some thick skin to try and dig under.  But I do have a sense that what is happening now in China is hardly all that bad.  In fact, I am impressed by what seems to be joyfulness and I do think this is genuine and has something to do with living in a country that is modernizing and not just for the benefit of a few, not so that some can make enormous profits while others suffer, but—should I say it!!!!!!—for the good of the whole—for the common good.