Claiming to represent the views of teachers on the occasion of teacher appreciation week, Arne Duncan said: “Nothing is more important than preparing our children to compete and succeed in the global economy”.
The purposes for which schools are designed structures educational experiences; it structures the curriculum, the approved teaching methods, and the culture of school, etc. To understand the significance of Mr. Duncan’s assertion regarding the aim for schooling, the content of “compete and succeed in the global economy” must be spelled out: it means empire building in social, psychological, economic and political terms.
As a result of the collapse of the bi-polar division of the world (the “end of communism”) Duncan and the social class he represents have been working feverishly over the past decades to establish a new equilibrium in favor of the U.S., its “allies” and “corporate partners” as global tensions mount and the U.S. strives to “stay on top” by “any means necessary”. This means war by economic, political, psychological and of course military means. (No wonder Collin Powell and allies want the Department of Defense to have a role in collecting and analyzing data related to the Common Core.) Note the “Go USA” tone of the so-called RESPECT project, which is to mobilize support from the teaching profession to restructure education to serve the aim of “global competition” (as if one becomes a teacher to take up the chauvinist aim of beating down and oppressing Indian, Chinese, German or Finish children).
In order for these objectives to be realized in the current historical conditions, public schooling must be altered or eliminated all together; cheapened so that the resources can go directly to “winning the war”, while the character of the schooling must be narrowed and altered such that it prepares young people to submit to and serve this aim (or else be subject to even more “incentives”, “accountability” and “competitive grants”).
The aim of “winning the global competition” does not represent the interests of teachers, students, parents and their communities or the society as a whole. In other words, it does not serve the public interest. No amount of double-speak about “respect” for teachers can change the fact that the aims set for education by the so-called reformers are diametrically opposed to the general welfare, general interest, general wellbeing of the people. The more these aims are served, the more intolerable the conditions in schools will become.