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Guest Commentary

March 8, 2012
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Capitalists can’t make money with socialistic schools

By John Hicks

Can you imagine a 90-minute block of uninterrupted time for kindergarten children to study reading? There are only about one out of 100 adults who could manage such a learning system. Oh, I forgot to tell you. That reading plan was for struggling Iowa students many with poor attention spans.

There’s much more. Extremist Republican governors are doing a good job destroying the excellent public school education we have known since World War II. You know, the education system which helped create what is considered by many, including historians, as the greatest middle class in history. Many of you younger folk may not have heard of the “GI Bill.” That government program, giving G.I.’s a chance to move themselves successfully back into society after the war, is considered by many as the best education program ever created. Period. The GI Bill and the public school system together have served the United States very well over the years. And they both continue to do so.

Guess what? Republican extremists are labeling both as socialistic, something to be eliminated, destroyed, to be replaced with privatization. They want to take “socialistic” public school money and use it for capitalistic purposes such as private schools, parochial schools, for-profit online schools, voucher funded schools, charter schools and home schools. Capitalists, of the extreme radical Right, can’t make any money when we have socialistic public schools. They can make lots of money if they can destroy public schools. And they can. And they are.

Rahm Emanuel, a top dog in the Obama administration and current mayor of Chicago, is closing 18 schools because of poor performance. Guess what? All are in impoverished minority areas. Historically, schools in such areas have never received enough money to do well. Money, such as it is, goes to white, wealthy neighborhoods — a way of life throughout the history of the United States. Poor schools receive less money but then are picked on by politicians of both parties because of poor performance. Shucks. Just another American way of life.

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, and others, want government out of education. So getting rid of departments of education, both nationally and at the state level, tops their agendas. Getting rid of a few “bad” public school teachers has been a priority of the Republican leadership. If you want to see a major increase in lousy teaching, privatization is the way to go. Halliburton, here we come. Fraud and crime have been minimal within the public schools because of stability, rules and regulations. Those are dirty words from an extreme Republican position. You want to talk about fraud within a complex privatization system? More Halliburton.

Most public schools are doing fine. Teachers are fine. The Gallop Poll, year after year, indicates that 70 percent of parents with students in a particular school believe that school is fine. Oh, I forgot. Good teaching and good schools do not make news. What the media wants to hear are the negative rants from politicians. Now that’s news!

Many of you remember the mass of propaganda President Bush used to garner public support for his war with Iraq. Well, you better get ready for another onslaught, because propaganda is picking up daily.

Here in Iowa, there is more gubernatorial subtlety when it comes to educational change, but the propaganda mill is moving forward and gaining speed. Republicans are doing their best to make you believe that education, nationally, is in crisis.

We’ll find out how much of a crisis in November. CV

John Hicks is a resident of Des Moines and professor emeritus at Drake University.

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