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March 21, 2012

March 20, 2012

Following is an edited version of a letter I sent today to an old friend and now retired presidential library archivist, joined in progress.

The fact (politically speaking) that we will be beaten in this county and know it does not relieve us of our duty to do our best in the hope that the rest of the state and nation will rescue us from, inter alia, total corporate takeover of this country (which, to me, is a scarier prospect than a nuclear Iran, for instance). You can have a war against external polities, but how do you wage war on the enemy within? I think we have to work hard now to see that that possibility does not see the light of day. I think that a corporate takeover of America (with all that portends, i.e., education, medical care etc.) and democracy cannot exist at the same time. Finally on my list of “I thinks,” I think that people as the basic unit of democracy will become irrelevant when public funds are controlled by corporations and thus outside the reach of the general citizenry (even though such citizens will still be required to pay into such public funds via taxes, fees and other such exactions).

This was brought home to me again last night at a meeting of the Collier County Democratic Club. Our speaker for the evening was a lady with a long career in education who monitors what is going on up in Tallahassee amongst the repub-controlled legislature. What she had to say would be nothing new to you and me, who are well aware of the tactics of (among others, Jeb Bush) who have these big educational corporations who are angling to take over education (and the money we pay for it) from public control. I knew what she was talking about before I heard it, but it was refreshing to see that the word is getting out. It seems that wherever you see a pot of public money, you see a greedy corporation lurking.

The first thing such corporate takeover artists do is set up the straw men: The public schools are bad and getting worse, the public schools are not educating children – they are just a bunch of union teachers who don’t care about anything but money (this from a corporation!), charter schools and home schooling (Santorum) are necessary because all those minorities in the public schools are bullies, carry knives and want to rape our daughters etc. etc. etc. The only hope is to put educational corporations in place to run public schools (including teacher training in higher education). That will solve all of our problems as the children skip down the sidewalk with their Easter baskets chock full of goodies and go to schools where they receive a superior education which not only makes them happy but answers America’s current problem of falling behind in innovation, the prime mover in tomorrow’s economy. In other words, unless you want a brawling mess in the public schools and an uncompetitive economy in the future (which assures Third World status), you had better vote for a corporate rescue because the public sector is too self-interested and/or ignorant to run this show. The corporations can do it far better and far cheaper and provide superior education. Bush for Ed Czar!

Nowhere in the jumbled narrative of the preceding paragraph is there any mention of the CORPORATE PURPOSE in so generously offering its corporate expertise in educating children. Those who are familiar with the corporate sale of funny paper all over the globe recently and what that suggests about the “expertise” of corporations (even in their own business of finance) should carefully assess the expertise of corporations to run the American public education enterprise. The corporations who are proposing the takeover of public education from public control are not non-profit organizations. Their overriding purpose is and has to be making profits, whatever the specific activity engaged in (any other purpose would invite stockholders’ suits). Do we want profit-seeking CEOs in charge of curricula design? What if it costs more money for a particular design in order to assure an education leading to innovative abilities of the students involved? Would the adoption of such curricula invite a shareholders’ suit because it reduces profits – and thus dividends and capital gains? I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

I have always felt that the two biggest duties of the state to its citizens are (1) public safety and (2) public education. Public safety from the federal (military) standpoint has already been preempted by the “defense industry,” one of the most profitable sectors we have in our economy. They get the money – the soldiers get four deployments to war. Apparently public education is next on the list of takeovers.

 I am unalterably opposed to a corporate takeover of public education. Profit making is not and should not be a goal of public or any other kind of education. Corporations take note: Your business model is not a model that will work in every enterprise, and education is one of them. You are not going to take our public funding for your private money making purposes and exclude our citizenry from participating in the education of (our, not your) children. Bush for Czar? Or any other corporate designee? Never! GERALD E



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