Super ImPACt on Education

Looking at the anticipated lineup of media expenditures planned for the next sixteen months, one would never know that the United States was suffering from high unemployment rates and stagnate income levels. The coffers of the super PACs are quickly filling with unlimited contributions. After the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, organizations can make unlimited campaign contributions, and corporations are rubbing their hands in anticipation of their opportunity to use these PACs to determine the choices voters will have in the polls next fall.

I’m baffled by corporations that jump through hoops and lobby congress to lower their tax rates, but are willing to make such large contributions.  I’m going to make a small leap here: corporate America is greedy. They use the resources provided by our government: maintained roadways, police protection, and educated personnel, all made possible by tax dollars, but they don’t feel obligated to return the favor by paying a reasonable rate of taxes themselves. They avoid taxation to the extent that many have set up false corporate headquarters in foreign countries to avoid paying their share.

Since we agree that these corporations are greedy, I find it suspicious that they are so interested in giving their money to these super PACs. …But these calculating corporations are NOT giving; they are investing. We used to call this bribing. Because they are big contributors, they have expectations. These greedy corporate contributors will choose the candidates on our ballots, and when the new “public servants” take office, they will be indebted to the financial groups that put them there and have the power to keep them there. The super PAC contributors will have the ear of the decision-makers regarding the legislation that impacts their bottom line, whether it be lowering the taxes they pay or increasing their opportunity to make lucrative sales to government entities.

As the middle class continues to shrink, some corporations are struggling to find a profitable venue for their goods and services. A war can be good for business; three is even better. Supplying the military during for war is good for business; a privately owned militia is even better. We saw this example with Blackwater. A private businessman, recruited personnel from our own military, and sold the services of these specialists (remember they were educated and trained with public funds) at more than twice the cost of using our own resources. Why would the United States pay more for this private service? The founder of Blackwater was Erik Prince, who with his sister, school voucher advocate, Besty Prince DeVos, makes some of the largest political contributions in the country.

I’m not here to warn everyone that corporate America has its sites on our schools. I can’t because they already have their teeth deep into the flesh of public education, and the standardized testing movement has been a vehicle for their purposes. They used these poorly created tests that failed to capture even a piece of what students learn in school to start a panic. At first, the panic was only felt in schools where the administrators and teachers grasped for the promised solutions offered in neat, government approved, packages to appease the criticism. The promised results of the programs never proved accurate. Still school funding required schools to invest in these programs that promised easy solutions for teaching students that struggle to learn. Packaged systems could not solve the real problems of poor communities where most of these students lived. But these corporate packages didn’t take the responsibility when the schools still failed. Instead the teachers were blamed.

In state houses and school boards across the country, teachers and schools are under attack. Unions are losing their rights and school budgets are being stripped. The results of this year’s legislation will negatively impact students. However, the legislatures, installed with the money of corporate America, will not take the responsibility for the malicious impact of their decision-making on the students in the classroom. No, the teachers will again be blamed.

More money will be diverted to school vouchers. This money could be used to properly fund public schools. Now the struggle of public education will continue with disintegrating buildings, increased class sizes, and demoralized teachers. The specialists (publicly educated and trained) will be diverted to private schools that will charge more for less. They will not provide the expensive services that we have come to expect from public schools including: community owned buildings, services and programs for special needs, athletic programs, fine arts, extra curricular activities, and meals for poor children.

These for-profit schools will have different goals. Instead of working to provide a quality education to every child in the United States, they will serve their stock holders in the same way that the banking industry has turned its back on customers to improve their bottom line.

This year’s super PAC is the largest wave of a hundred year storm that has been brewing. Should we stand against it and beg our representatives for protection from special interests, or should we ride the wave on our own super PAC board? Decisions are being made today about who will have the power to make the decisions tomorrow. To make public schools private would put full control of our countries education in the hands of the business industry instead of the hands of the people who are committed to education.

If these business leaders are truly committed to improving education, let them go to school and get teaching credentials, so they can help children. Thousands of Americans have made this commitment to the students of our country. We call them teachers.

 

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