On July 18th, the President hosted an education roundtable with key leaders in both the private and public sectors to discuss ways we can ensure a competitive American workforce.
After all, education is about creating competitive members of the workforce, say like the President’s children or the private school darlings of the executives throwing table scraps to America’s public school students. President Obama’s administration has done great violence to America’s children and their teachers through Race-to-the-Top, endless union-busting, teacher-bashing, charter school utopianism and non-sensical get-tough rhetoric unimagined by the Bush administration.
So, rather than keep his word to stand with public school children and their teachers, save teacher jobs or advance a progressive education policy, President Obama invited fat-cat oligarchs to the White House to congratulate them for their pathetic self-serving acts of charity.
The President celebrates the largesse of corporate executives sitting on trillions of dollars worth of savings thanks to the extension of the Bush tax cuts and off-shore money-laundering. Not only do these corporate “leaders” enjoy the gift of the Presidential photo-op and tax-deductibility for their charitable efforts, but the money they pledged is categorical. That means that the corporate executives who have already been setting national policy since A Nation-at-Risk get to determine how the paltry sums will be used.
There is zero-tolerance for pedagogical solutions proposed by qualified educators. The corporate “school as business” fantasies must be followed blindly despite a consistent track record of failure.
Don’t believe me? I suggest you read:
- Why is Corporate America Bashing Our Public Schools? by Susan Ohanian and Kathy Emery
- The Flat World and Education: How America’s Commitment to Equity Will Determine Our Future by Linda Darling-Hammond
- Education Hell: Rhetoric vs. Reality by Gerald Bracey
Here is a partial list of suggested alternatives for President Obama the next time he wants to host a corporate bake sale for schools at the White House.
- Tell the corporate executives to pay their damned taxes
- Ask executives to stop demanding tax abatements in communities where they place corporate facilities
- Ask corporate bigwigs to ensure that every American children receive a public school education modeled on the educational experience you purchase for your own children
- Require corporations to pay a living wage to the parents of American school children
- Support universal health care for America’s children
- Stop laying-off Americans while making record profits
- Stop corporations from forcing college graduates to work as unpaid interns
- Remind corporate geniuses like Eli Broad that schools have little to learn from the corporate leadership lessons of AIG, the company whose Board of Directors he served on until AIG nearly tanked the US economy.
- Ask Bill Gates to apologize for Zune, Bob, Windows Vista, Microsoft TV, Microsoft’s labor history, the disastrous Philadelphia School of the “Future” and using America’s public school system as his personal model train set.
Veteran educator Gary Stager, Ph.D. is co-author of Invent To Learn — Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom, publisher at Constructing Modern Knowledge Press, and the founder of the Constructing Modern Knowledge summer institute. He led professional development in the world’s first 1:1 laptop schools thirty years ago and designed one of the oldest online graduate school programs. Gary is also the curator of The Seymour Papert archives at DailyPapert.com. Learn more about Gary here.