Pedagogy for Profit: Education Under Capitalism

23-10-18 05:55:00,


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Public schools are under attack by billionaires, conservative think tanks, philanthropists, business lobbying groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Trump administration. These attackers argue that public schools are an ineffective, needless tax expense that can be replaced by privatized, profit-making charter schools that they claim are “more efficient.”

In Waiting for Superman, a film critical of public schools, this outlook was stated thus: “For generations, experts tend to blame failing schools on failing neighborhoods. But reformers have begun to believe the opposite — that the problems of failing neighborhoods might be blamed on failing schools.”

This debate — between the “reformers” who blame “bad” schools, teachers and teachers’ unions for a decline in education, and the defenders of public schooling (such as teachers, teachers’ unions and community activists) — is important because it exposes the self-serving actions of many of the “reformers,” as well as the struggles of the defenders. The debate is also deceptive, for, with few exceptions, it ignores the fact that public education is an integral part of the political economy, and that many problems involving public schooling reflect problems within capitalism. Over the years, as US capitalism has changed, public education has also changed.

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Laissez-Faire Capitalism

The era of laissez-faire capitalism ending in the Gilded Age was a time of unregulated capitalism that brought forth the creation of public schools needed to train compliant workers and citizens as industrial capital rapidly grew.

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