It is sad that our constitution, designed as it is to curb power by balancing the three branches of government, is helpless to curb the greatest power of all: the corporations. It’s not surprising though, given the fact that corporations were in their infancy in the eighteenth century. A century later Henry Adams was hoping that the Grant administration could reform government and modify what Adams saw as an already antiquated document. But even Adams was not fully aware of the power of the corporations and the corrosive effects they would have on the moral framework of this country. He was concerned, however.
Readers of these blogs know that I am no friend of corporations, for the reasons suggested above. But I am also a tireless defender of education and the need to correctly perceive the role education must play if this culture — and indeed civilization itself — is to survive. But we are now told that in Florida there is a movement by the corporations [“for-profit companies”] to make inroads into education in that state — after already pushing through a similar law in California. A recent blurb tells us that in Florida a proposed law
“. . . creates a ‘parent trigger’ where a majority of parents of students in a low-performing school can sign petitions forcing the local school board to implement a turnaround option, including turning the school over to a for-profit company or a charter run by an out-of-state board. Critics say that companies could employ paid petition gatherers to persuade concerned but uninformed parents to pull the trigger.”
What this means, of course, is that if this law passes these companies can take the inside track and determine future curriculum development in the schools to promote their own agenda. This is not to say this will inevitably happen, but history suggests that it is likely. And the curriculum will almost certainly be geared toward turning out young people who will be unable to do much of anything except oil the wheels of industry and commerce at the command of those above them on the corporate ladder.
This is already happening, to a degree, as our schools fall deeper and deeper into the trap of vocationalism and gear the studies of our kids toward jobs and away from heightened critical skills. If the corporations are in a position to push their own agenda, however, it could get much worse. To be sure, the temptation is great at this time of tight budgets to welcome the offer from “for-profit companies” to lend a hand. But as Chekhov warned, it is best to take a long spoon when you sup with the devil. I would advise that we refuse the invitation altogether.
This is not conspiracy theory, though one finds himself drawn in that direction more and more as he grows older. But it is a warning that large businesses are focused on one thing and one thing only: profits. People do not matter. Nor does the environment. Certainly the healthy intellectual growth of our children doesn’t matter. What matters is “the bottom line.” And inviting companies into our schools is a blunder we must guard against — whether we suspect their motives or not. The schools at every level should be self-determined — as we have seen in the case of Finland which has the most successful education system in the world at present. The attempt by any outside agency, whether it is certification agencies or (especially) corporations pushing for “Parent Empowerment Bills,” must be resisted by all of those who care about the education of our young.
If it’s not already too late, the survival of this Republic depends on educated citizens, not mindless company drones. Let us hope that Florida has enough sense to refuse to pass this proposed new law.