robertreich.org — Last week Rick Santorum called the President “a snob” for wanting everyone to get a college education (in fact, Obama never actually called for universal college education but only for a year or more of training after high school). Santorum needn’t worry. America is already making it harder for young people of modest means to attend college. Public higher education is being starved, and the middle class will shrink even more as a result. Public higher education has been the gateway to the middle class but that gate is shutting – just when income and wealth are more concentrated at the top than they’ve been since the 1920s, and when America needs the brainpower of its young people more than ever. This is nuts.
newdeal20.org — Rick Santorum has found a new populist voice in criticizing Obama’s “theology.” He claims he does not mean Obama is not a Christian, but apparently his belief in a number of progressive policies, including formal schooling for Americans, violates Santorum’s deeply held theological views. Pandering to ignorance is not new with Santorum. But surely the candidate determined to be the candidate of the working class has reached a new low. And he has given those who are sincerely religious a bad name. His misunderstanding of American history and how the economy grew is more than stunning. In recent remarks, Santorum praises home schooling, claiming that with the rise of factories, Americans had to go to formal schools that were like factories. Public school is an anachronism, he says. But formal schooling is about as American a virtue as there is. Has Santorum read any American history?
truth-out.org — Right-wing fundamentalists such as Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum hate public schools, which he suggests are government schools wedded to doing the work of Satan, dressed up in the garb of the Enlightenment. Santorum, true to his love affair with the very secular ideology of privatization, prefers home schooling, which is code for people taking responsibility for whatever social issues or problems they may face, whether it be finding the best education for their children or securing decent health care. Actually, Santorum and many of his allies dislike any public institution that enables people to think critically and act with a degree of responsibility toward the public. This is one reason why they hate any notion of public education, which harbors the promise, if not the threat, of actually educating students to be thoughtful, self-reflective and capable of questioning so-called common sense and holding power accountable.
Conventional wisdom among the Very Serious People in Washington DC has long maintained that the severely punitive nature of current policies governing America's public schools cannot be called an "attack"on those institutions or the teachers who inhab more »
prospect.org — The GOP presidential primary has offered some odd debates on who cares about the "very poor" and whether there should be a "safety net" or a "trampoline" to help people get out of poverty. Meanwhile, in Kansas, it seems Governor Sam Brownback is hoping to dig a bigger hole for the poor fall into. Between his tax plans and his approaches to school funding, Brownback's agenda overtly boosts the wealthy and makes things harder for the poor. While many liberals speculate this to be a secret goal, Brownback is hardly making a secret of his agenda.
newdeal20.org — Education was rightly big on Obama’s agenda in his State of the Union address last week. As he noted, “[T]o prepare for the jobs of tomorrow, our commitment to skills and education has to start earl[y].” He proposed solutions to getting better outcomes from kindergarten to higher ed. But his eyes were mostly on containing the system we have. Yet on a more general level, we’re still having a conversation as a country about what we mean when we say that we owe every child a decent education. We’re currently trying to fix an issue fundamentally about social justice by focusing on accountability, competition, and choice. A conversation about values — the purpose of education and what it should bring each child — is lacking. Why do we educate children? Is the end goal a higher salary? High test scores? Or something else?
newamericamedia.org — In his State of the Union, President Obama stressed the importance of keeping manufacturing in America. The reasoning is that in order to continue to innovate and develop the next generation must-have products, the U.S. needs manufacturing that uses leading edge technology. Nothing wrong with the reasoning, but it may be too late. A lengthy analysis on why jobs are flowing to China based on the Apple iPhone experience appeared in the New York Times. One of the most important findings was that America simply no longer has the skill sets to meet Apple’s demands for a high quality, technology product. America has lost the edge to make things. The training programs Obama talked about might serve as temporary Band-Aids that might keep certain production from leaving in the short term. But to maintain a world leadership position, the U.S. will need far more technicians, engineers and scientists than the country is producing.