I think it’s also very important to understand that this focus on educational reform is replacing, is a substitute for, a jobs policy. We need to understand that. Education can democratize the competition for the existing jobs, but it cannot create new jobs. And when most jobs that are being created are by companies like Wal-Mart, education cannot do anything about that. So, we need to—we really need to look critically at Race to the Top and understand the way that it fits into this new economic order of a so-called jobless recovery and that what’s really going on is a vocationalization of education, a watering down of curriculum for most kids, so that they’re going to take jobs that require only a seventh or an eighth grade education, because those are the jobs that are being created in this economy.
The Wall Street Journal on the August 2010 jobs report:
The U.S. jobless rate rose to 9.6% in August, but the government’s broader measure of unemployment rose even more to 16.7%, the highest rate since April.
The comprehensive gauge of labor underutilization, known as the “U-6″ for its data classification by the Labor Department, accounts for people who have stopped looking for work or who can’t find full-time jobs.
The 9.6% unemployment rate is calculated based on people who are without jobs, who are available to work and who have actively sought work in the prior four weeks. The “actively looking for work” definition is fairly broad, including people who contacted an employer, employment agency, job center or friends; sent out resumes or filled out applications; or answered or placed ads, among other things. The rate is calculated by dividing that number by the total number of people in the labor force.
The U-6 figure includes everyone in the official rate plus “marginally attached workers” — those who are neither working nor looking for work, but say they want a job and have looked for work recently; and people who are employed part-time for economic reasons, meaning they want full-time work but took a part-time schedule instead because that’s all they could find.
The disparity in the rates in August was largely driven by an increase in the number of part-time workers who would prefer full-time work. That can be a worrisome indication that the jobs being created in the recovery aren’t the same quality as pre-recession positions.
And of course many of the jobs that replaced the ones lost in the recessions of the 80's and 90's weren't the same quality as those that existed before either.
What we have in the economy at large is what Juan Gonzalez and Lois Weiner noted we have happening in education:
LOIS WEINER: Well, I think it’s important to understand that there are—No Child Left Behind is part of this global project to deprofessionalize teaching as an occupation. And the reason that it’s important in this project to deprofessionalize teaching is that the thinking is that the biggest expenditure in education is teacher salaries. And they want to cut costs. They want to diminish the amount of money that’s put into public education. And that means they have to lower teacher costs. And in order to do that, they have to deprofessionalize teaching. They have to make it a revolving door, in which we’re not going to pay teachers very much. They’re not going to stay very long. We’re going to credential them really fast. They’re going to go in. We’re going to burn them up. They’re going to leave in three, four, five years. And that’s the model that they want.
So who is the biggest impediment to that occurring? Teachers’ unions. And that is what explains this massive propaganda effort to say that teachers’ unions are an impediment to reform. And in fact, they are an impediment to the deprofessionalization of teaching, which I think is a disaster. It’s a disaster for public education.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, you know, one of the—I’ve been, for several years now, looking deeply into these charter schools, and especially their tax forms. And one of the things that has struck me as I look at their various audited financial statements is that, generally speaking, the pay levels of the teachers in the charter schools are far lower than they are for normal public school teachers, but the pay of the executives—
KAREN LEWIS: Yeah.
LOIS WEINER: Yes.
JUAN GONZALEZ: —of the charter schools is far higher—
KAREN LEWIS: Higher, yeah.
LOIS WEINER: Yes.
JUAN GONZALEZ: —than it is for superintendents. So you’re, in essence, creating a much bigger wage gap in the schools through the charters—
LOIS WEINER: Yes.
JUAN GONZALEZ: —between management and the employees who actually cover the work.
LOIS WEINER: Yes.
JUAN GONZALEZ: I’m wondering what you found.
LOIS WEINER: Well, that’s part of the—you know, that’s part of the thinking here, that teaching really is not—does not have to be a skilled profession, because we’re not going to teach—we’re not going to educate kids to do anything more than work in Wal-Mart or the equivalent. They only need a seventh or an eighth grade education, at most a ninth grade education, and so we don’t need teachers who are more than, as Grover Whitehurst, a former Undersecretary of Education, said, "good enough." That’s all we need is teachers who are "good enough" to follow scripted curriculum and to teach to these standardized tests. And if you only need teachers who are good enough, you don’t have to pay them very much. And that’s the project. And regardless of the rhetoric, regardless of the intentions of some of the people who are supporting these reforms, people like the Education Trust, whose work I respect, I think it’s important that we look at something beyond the intentions and the rhetoric, and we really look at this project as being a project that’s global in its nature.
This is why so many of the education reformers are hedge fund managers and Wall Street types.
It is in THEIR interests to de-professionalize the teaching corps, lower costs and open up public education to for-profit companies.
And of course so many of the charters they run have six day school weeks, 9-10 hour school days, and 48 week school years, so both students and staff get socialized to expect to work longer and harder to make less money and have fewer job protections.
And rather than FIGHT this trend, Randi Weingarten and the unions bring a prime financier of it (Gates) to speak to the union.
Rather than fight this anti-labor, anti-teacher administration on this, the unions say "Well, it would be worse if the Republicans were in charge..."
As was noted over at Fred Klonsky's blog a few days ago, so many of these "Democrats" on the side of education reform also belong to right wing organizations like the Cato Institute, the Manhattan Institute and the American Enterprise Institute.
These guys ARE Republicans, no matter what they call themselves.
And those are the policies they are pursuing.
This Labor Day Weekend we will hear pro-labor jive from President Obama as the administration starts to get worried that the midterm elections are going to make 1994 look like a minor GOP victory.
But don't you believe it.
As I posted yesterday, these guys in the administration DESPISE labor.
They need the GOTV organization labor has, so they pay lip service to unions and working people every so often, but their policies and attitudes are distinctly anti-labor as summed up by Rahm Emanuel's "Fuck the UAW!" comment when someone in the administration pointed out that if they didn't help the auto industry out, thousands of auto workers would lose their jobs.
And their attitudes about teachers can best be summed up by their applauding of the firing of the teachers in Rhode Island as part of their Race to the Top program.
It is time to STOP supporting these anti-labor, anti-teacher Dems and instead find pro-labor, pro-teacher politicians to support.
Yes, I know there aren't many out there.
There are some.
And yes, it's true the Greens won't win many races.
But maybe if we can help them to win some, Dems will start to wake up to the fact that there is a very large and angry constituent of former Democratic supporters who are looking for a pro-labor, pro-teacher party to belong to.