Andrew Brenner, a Republican state legislator in Ohio, has nailed the public education system in the United States as a socialist institution: 

He has a solution of course—privatization. Let the free market control the education system and the quality of schools and education will automatically improve.

I used to have trouble understanding the GOP fixation on socialism, but at last it is clear to me. Anything the government does—local, state, or federal—is socialistic and anything done by private enterprise is free market capitalism.

I would think a primary candidate for privatization would be defense. From the very beginning of the country the army and the navy have been socialistic institutions in the hands of the government. Privatize them. Let a hundred armies bloom. The ones that defend us well will prosper and the ones that lose wars will automatically go out of business. Let them fight it out and the best army wins.

And think of roads and traffic control—all socialistic enterprises. I warrant there is not a single traffic light in the entire country under the control of private enterprise. Not one. Socialism again. Ask yourself how many roads are privately owned? Very few indeed. Wouldn't we be better off it roads were a private business and people had to pay for every use?

Drivers licenses are socialistic. Every single one is issued by the state. There are no private companies making a profit from drivers licenses with the exception of a few small businesses in Mexico that will provide you with papers of all kinds for a price. (In two hours in Tijuana you can get a drivers license, passport, visa, and birth certificate for $200, but the quality is not always as good as it should be because there is no free market competition.)

Finally think of government itself. All government is government owned and operated. How about allowing the creation of multiple private enterprise state legislatures in each state and putting them in competition with each other to give us the best legislation money can buy?

Just saying…

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Why stop there?  Public schools and libraries, fire and police departments, hell, city, county and state governments all are designed to act in the general public interest and can all be construed as socialistic constructs.  And we all know that the free market will do the best for the general public welfare; Alan Greenspan said as much (right before he recognized his mistake!).

[sigh] How much longer do we put up with this libertarian (that's what it amounts to) bullshit?  The rich, privileged and influential want to be relieved of their responsibility to the collective so that they can focus utterly on themselves, to the exclusion of all else.  The whole concept of E Pluribus Unum, which should still be the motto of the US, is as lost to them as is the concept of empathy or mutual cooperation.

Two hundred thousand years ago, when humankind first emerged on Planet Earth, we acted as social creatures because no one of us could stand alone against a hostile environment.  Now in a more sophisticated world, these fatuous dolts would have us believe that a man CAN be an island, entire of himself, and leave the rest of the world to get their own, sink or swim.  The scariest part of all this is that, left uncountered, they may have sufficient means to get their wish.  We simply cannot let them have their way, and we cannot afford to be complacent about something as important as this.

I discovered this quote not so long ago, and it bears on this matter directly:

Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.
-- Frederick Douglass

Some of these public institutions like schools and libraries don't treat people well because they aren't directly responsible to them.  A customer in a store has power - the store wants to please them.  If you're a "customer" of a public school or public library, they don't care so much to please you. 

There's a lot to that limited-government position.

Even for things like the military - phrases like "good enough for government work" have got to make you stop and think.  The accountabililty gets lost in bureaucracies. 

The other side of that is how demanding the public can be of public institutions. You might be surprised at what people expect of schools and colleges. Many take it automatically to be the fault of the teacher or the institution when their child does not do as well as they expect. Every year students arrive on campus who have been valedictorians at their local high school and find out that it is tougher going in a bigger pool.

how demanding the public can be of public institutions. You might be surprised at what people expect of schools and colleges.

Clearly we need public funding.  There are many things that are in the public interest and wouldn't be taken care of by individuals.  Non-commercial research, education, etc. etc.  But if possible, the public funding should go to private organizations that can compete for it. 

Education today is driven by "accountability."  I have had administrators at my university tell me flat out that if a student fails my class, it's my fault.  Never mind that the student skips class half the time, never buys the books for the course, and plays with his or her cell phone for an hour.  These are students with an average SAT of about 800.  They may have gone to sub-standard schools (it is Georgia, after all), but I suspect that they worked no harder in high school than they do in college.  Of course, they are now known as "customers," and public colleges in Georgia will soon be funded according to how well their students, er, I mean customers, perform.  Institutions are becoming increasingly responsive to customer demands.  I had a student today tell me that she was going to complain to the president because I didn't use Power Point to explain the assigned world lit readings.  This student does not own the book, does not read any of the assignments, and does not take notes, but her poor performance is my fault because she has a scholarship.  So she disrupts my class for ten minutes, saying over and over that "nobody gets" the literature because I'm such a crappy teacher.  Another student says, "I get it," and she shouts him down.  Meanwhile, another student is having a psychotic break, telling me that his god, Omaha, who lives on that newly discovered planet, is going to send tornadoes, thunderstorm, hail, and fires.  Smart-ass that I am, I asked where the tornadoes would hit.  He said, "Dallas."  Things kind of went downhill from there.  He threatened my life, then said he was "going to blow the bitch up" (I assume he meant the college).  I got a doctorate for this?

Sorry for the venting.  It was surreal.


Oh dear, you are in a terrible education situation. It sounds more like a reform school than a college. Your customers sound like immature, irresponsible, spoiled brats.  They appear to have no interest in learning, so ... 

What are your options? Who are your allies? Do you have a teachers' union? Have you considered other lines of work? Do you have a family to support? 

These are not questions that you need to answer for me, I offer them for you to consider. 

Sorry, I forgot what field you teach. I assume it is art because of the way you have your name, but my memory tells me it is not art. 

This is the safest place in the world to rant! You go for it! 

Keep in mind that this challenge has a solution, you just haven't figured it out yet. Also keep in mind that you have everything you need to face this hurdle and turn it into a victory for you. By all means, get out from under that administrator who hasn't a clue about education and is pulling you down that black hole with him. 

My hunch is you are in education to teach students, not what to think, but how to think. There are places and ways to reach your goals. 

Thanks, Joan.  Rough day yesterday, but US education is still driven by accountability and assessment.  The bean counters are firmly in control.  Ever notice that beans are not symmetrical?  Once in the bean counter's head, they don't roll straight.   

And sometimes they have little bugs in them that make them jump to some other drum! 

Yes, I could see your day was rough. I hope things get better. If not, know there are options. You are NOT a victim of the system. You can turn it into an opportunity for something better. 

There isn't much you can do if the student oh im sorry "customer" won't pay attention in class. It takes discipline to learn and put that information into words and text. They can blame themselves for slacking off for so many years and not giving a shit.

Allan is correct. But I wouldn't just limit it to institutions of higher education. People think the rules that apply to others don't apply to them. And, if you happen to be in a position when you are doing your level best to see that the rules are fairly applied to everyone, then it's your fault the that they don't like it, it's your fault they were put in place, and (my all time favorite like a 5 year old) 'that's not fair.'

No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people. H.L. Mencken

Well of course people like to blame something outside of themselves.  But that doesn't speak against the benefit of competition and having organizations directly responsible to those they serve. 

I honestly wonder about this whole "competition in the private market" thing in modern America, and the real power of the consumer. Personally, I think the homage being paid to this idea is as phony as a $3.00 bill. Take radio stations for instance. There are currently only 31 independently operated radio stations in the US. Clear Channel, a corporate media company, owns 850. While the number of independent stations, accountable to their listeners is shrinking, companies like Clear Channel are growing. And, I seriously don't believe they give a hoot about the individuals in the communities they serve. Don't like it? Change the channel. Oh, that's right, in all probability,you'll just get another one of ours. The same with the proposed merger of Time Warner and Comcast. By shrinking the competition, and gaining a virtual monopoly on a particular product or service, there is no direct responsibility to the people these companies serve. There is only the profit margin. And, as a result, all of us suffer in the name of the benefit of competition.




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