Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Education is the lighting of a fire...

In bed sick and I'm reading Joel Bakan's Childhood Under Siege where he sums up the rationale behind the New Zealand National Governments eduction reforms:

"Education is bigger than defense."

Yep it's a goldmine. Public money generating private profit. And that's why, despite shitloads of international evidence that shows that applying a neoliberal business model to education spectacularly fails students and society, we are facing a massive shift in how we view and deliver education here in Aotearoa.

John Key and his cohort of ideological fools just keep on pushing despite this evidence because big business owns them, controls them, and doesn't really give a fuck what you or the experts think.

So a big welcome to public-private schools to be set up in poor areas by corporations. Hello to standardised testing regimes that narrow the focus of education to suit the needs of capitalism (and yeah, fuck art). A round of applause for teacher performance pay, fast-track teacher training (now anyone with a degree can teach in matter of weeks), increased classroom sizes, and media witch-hunts that paint teachers as the problem.

We can safely call this a clusterfuck with immense consequences. Of course we all know what the real problems are. As (the very much aligned) Ivan Snook has shown, educational achievement is directly linked to ones socio-economic status. Poor people fail a school system designed to stratifying workers - it reproduces class, it entrenches poverty - they are meant to fail as capitalism requires a desperate underclass happy to sell their labour for minimum wage. But inequality in New Zealand has blown out of control. There are a lot of hungry kids in our schools and they're not learning anything.

In early childhood changes are also happening. Deregulation in the 90's saw the private sector explode to the point where we now have too many centres in wealthy areas, not enough in poorer communities, massive fee increases to counter government cuts, and no jobs.

To top off all this uncertainty in the sector the Government has announced that ECE will be compulsory for the children of beneficiaries.

Hmm, my centre charges $400 per week and there are no vacancies. So these kids will be going where? New corporate centres with guaranteed income of course! And we love ABC, Kidicorp, Kindercare etc with their minimum standards and homogenised environments.

Education is about lighting a fire, it's about the re-birthing of democracy, critical thinking and action. Now's the time folks. They can only do this if we let them.

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