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Thought experiment

By Owen Paine on Thursday January 6, 2011 04:42 PM

Two sectors dear to all soft hearts deserve quite divergent tactics.

One is, of course, health care, and here it looks like the state is the only way to blugeon through to a better and cheaper health service for all.

However we also hear lots of wildness about the schooling sector and efforts to demolish the state's de facto lion's share of our nation's production of mass citizen liter-ates and numer-ates. In particular we hear a lot of geschrei about charterization and today's topic, voucherization of the public schooling dollar.

Seems plenty clear that voucherization of state provision of health care funds would be a deadly act indeed, and for all the obvious reasons well understood by the popular culture at large and not worth my paltry input.

But brothers and sisters should we really really... really mobilize our limited lefty activist resources to fight vague movements toward the voucherizing of primary education?

I'll suggest a distinction: battling for health care is a universal battle and any move away from ever more fully socializing our health system must be battled with ferocity.

But should we care even if the present schooling system disintegrates? Would that be a dark-age outcome... really?

Comments (33)

Solar Hero:

More damn kids on the streets!


Owen has called my bluff here. For all my saucy flings at the credentialling sector, I look upon charterization and voucherization with undiluted horror. I just spent about an hour scratching my grizzled stubbly chin and trying to figure out why, but it's just not coming into focus. I'll keep working on it.

For all my saucy flings at the credentialling sector, I look upon charterization and voucherization with undiluted horror. I just spent about an hour scratching my grizzled stubbly chin and trying to figure out why, but it's just not coming into focus.

The credentialing sector has the same culture as you, more or less. You're mocking a brother, not an enemy. Vouchers and charter schools move power to religions and schooling corporations. They're enemies. Hence, your concern.

The tool doesn't belong to utopian academics. It is endearing to see them pretend to plan for their eventual possession of that tool, though.


"move power to religions and schooling corporations."

Well, that's scary, but if that's where people want to send their kids, can we prevent them?

The fantasy of free, equal, quality education for all our citizens is one those "progressive" ideals that's as hollow as a chocolate rabbit. It's none of those things and its basically a schooling in submission to authority. So why defend it?

I say, let local communities control their own education, and if my neighbor wants his kid to study the old testament instead of biology, I say, go for it!


i think ...i agree with you

the voucher plan oughta be federal funds of course
primary education oughta be
a "national " mission
and centrally funded
what could be fairer then a per student voucher system ???

equal opportunity is of course a hideous farce
i think of kaplan drilling
hockey camp and dance class etc
for the higher income household's star child

the how and by what means
a local decision even including "no public school system " at all"
i suspect going "full voucher"
would lead in time to something like this
and chains of schools too
with transferable credit hours
if the credential posse rides fasat and furious enough into the thick of it all
and any of a zillion national competence licensing exams for skill level free
and availible for taking
purely on citizen -student initative
like the current driving license


see i love coming up with
luft-restaurant recipes !!!

they make nice metaphors and roar-sharks

if you are familiar with the evil spence signaling model of hiring
--in essence gauntlet filtering ---
well our gauntlets have a spontaneous self lengthening and elaborating "tendency"
(trot alert)
how about a law that forbids hiring requirements not directly connected
to the job tasks

result..one hopes

i'm mostly "McEducated myself"
took the necessary fast learn courses
at Pro-Cut tech
related to a quartet of thoracic surgery
but in general
where my meme sets weren't osmotically evolved
i was largely self taught
but hey come age 14
i passed my PUPPY'S with flying colors "

better or worse
go figure ...


look as a parent in the dickensian tradition

i want a safe place to stash
the little mouth breathers
while i toil for the corporate falcons
right ?
something to socialize em for 6 to 8 hours a day
from age zero to say ....14
after that its what
two-four years of learning the birds
and the bees playing sports mcjobbing
yes i'd have GSE 's waitin for em too
the junior militia
play mommy and daddy
day care center jobs

keep the raw bastards from corporate clutches till the system has fatuated em up enough ??

why bother


oh ya green vocationing too

used to call it
rakes and rifles

and young care giver factory

including in trailer park care
for the aged shabby fucks ...like i'll be

"yes dear
my gut hurts again today
only lower ....
very nice but lower ...
maybe we better remove this thick blanket eh ?? "


"The tool doesn't belong to utopian academics"...."The tool" crow ?

pardon my senile density but is the tool under consideration here by u vouchers ???

or general PUB ED disintergration ??

or somthin' else entirely ???

assuming its vouchers and charter schools
my understanding the movements
secret "brain " is filled with schemes to destroy the teacher unions and associations
ie cut the social cost
of compulsory schooling

can you blame them ???

i agree this disestablishmentarianism
hardly looks to "improve " the schooling experience

since i for one have no such illusion
this post came from another direction entirely

class politics
and best use
of limited vanguard forces


Ah! The real issue is teachers' unions. . .

that's one I've never been comfortable with, torn between view of all unions as sacred, and uncomfortable with pasha quality of Al Shankar.

Same problem with most unions today, non-democratic, complicit with management, etc.

Are unions truly extinct, never to be revived? If so, let's stop revering their memory.


i have this sense that if we battle down health care costs the school system problems begin to unwind. i like charter schools, when they're open and available, but i don't see how vouchers avoid becoming crap education at higher costs, like medicare privatization.

further, the cost of transport will matter. people will need guaranteed good local choices.

Sen is right. Vouchers without a big burst of new dollars and new methods in the public system is a disaster.

But, if the public school system were ever unchained and properly funded, then vouchers would be perfectly fine and all but irrelevant.

The fact of the matter is that overclasses have always feared excessive mass learning, and have always been careful to choke it down to optimal-for-themselves size. Just big and serious and free enough to turn out the requisite number of middle-level workers of various kinds, but always small and unserious and stunted enough to ensure no crisis of expectations ensues.

Indeed, there was an elite commission in the 1970s here in the USA that concluded part of what caused the Sixties was excessive educational access.

"It is clearly wrong to attempt to keep ordinary children of the working class at school after the age at which their proper work begins, and there are some kinds of work which, to be ever done handily, must be begun very early. The mischievous result of taxing other classes to keep the working class out of
work must be the upsetting of divinely appointed, and necessary social order."

British Education Vice-Minister Sir Charles Adderley, 1858

Michael Hureaux:

I just wish some of the people who post here really had to know what's going on out here. What teachers in this country are up against right now has almost surreal proportions, it's so fucking weird. Right now, we're spoken of in the media as though we were everything but a child of whatever weird gods there may be. Politicians speak openly of breaking what union organization we have left, of making it illegal to strike across the board. At present, our organizations are led by people who are so frightened, most teachers are afraid to speak out at all. I can't say even as a teacher I've ever cared much for the way schools are set, either now or in my own high school days. But what these bastards are doing to teachers and students right now is barbaric. There's no other way to put it.

The tool, Owen, is the corporate state. All this mumbling and internet whimbling centers on using offices of government which resist, by virtue of their real ownership, being used thusly.

Want [whatever]? Wasting energy capturing office, school boards, public schools won't get it.

It isn't 1901 anymore. It didn't work in 1901, anyway. Wobblies, for all their other faults, understood that.


Want [whatever]? Wasting energy capturing office, school boards, public schools won't get it.

I am increasingly sympathetic to the anarchist POV espoused by IOZ, Crow and their ilk, but I don't embrace the notion that all states are equal or that there aren't varying levels of actual representation in representative democracies.

Certainly, right-wing Christians have gotten more leverage in American civic life by accepting the State as a given and mobilizing accordingly. This has had fairly major consequences. Obviously, that they tend to have a capitalist-friendly ideology has helped, but I don't think it explains everything.

I think if leftists were more aggressive at more local levels of organization like school boards, we/they could have accomplished more with the meagre resources we/they have. However, for whatever reason, the left in America seems incapable of organization, possibly because it sees itself as forever gasping for air.

My faith in the left is no stronger than my faith in the government so it seems to me a DIY approach to everything you can actually control in your life seems the best way forward, preferably in organized concert with others who feel the same.


I'm really a rather soft anarchist; I'm not a pacifist, and there are number of scenarios where I think insurrection, crime and violence are useful (although I balk at the idea of necessary or justifiable violence).

And I also believe we're in agreement on the variety of governments, and states. I don't presume that the word "State" has an abstract value which correlates to a real thing. It's a fiction, and a useful one. But there's no thing, "State." I reject, entirely, the supposition of the entelechy, or that there is a thing, organization. I'm even wary of the concept, relationship. People relate, but most of what we call "relationship," and treat as a thing which somehow exists between and connecting two or more persons, is in fact the re-experience of our own memories. An abstraction of experience, another useful fiction, but no more real than unicorns or some institution, such as the Department of Homeland Security.

Must of these supposed objects and entities are reifications, treating with human conduct, behavior and action as if it were an object.

That's the root of my particular reading of anarchism. I don't so much think the State must be fought, as disbelieved.

Hope that helps.

~ Jack



Actually it doesn't really help. I think you're just baiting Dawson.

What teachers in this country are up against right now has almost surreal proportions, it's so fucking weird.
True dat. We're an amazing people. We think education is the answer to everything, and then we send teachers to the Gulag. One is almost tempted to wonder whether there's a perverse connection between the two -- whether our exaggerated (and therefore necessarily disappointed) expectations might not fuel some of the fury.

Not at all, Tarzie. I wrote a reply to you. I wasn't thinking of Dawson at all. Dawson doesn't really register on my wavelength unless he's sniping at me directly. Heh, though.

Clapham Omnibus:

But there's no thing, "State."

Hear, Hear! You dear lads are catching on!

"There is no such thing as society. There is living tapestry of men and women and people and the beauty of that tapestry and the quality of our lives will depend upon how much each of us is prepared to take responsibility for ourselves and each of us prepared to turn round and help by our own efforts those who are unfortunate." --- Margaret Thatcher


thanx crow
now i can call u
the anti tinker bell nominalist

“ What revives Tinkerbell from death
is the audience's affirmation, by clapping their hands at Peter's request, that they "do believe in fairies."



the plight of all the raw souls
forced into
our Dewey archipelago
as many many observers have noted
is to endure
at least 8 ..maybe 12 grades
of pre job site corporate office conditioning

a mass ritualized socialization
object :
not producing skills
but simple habituations

it is quite a testement
to the complexity of all human interaction
that thank allah
much else transpires in there too

teachers with a calling
have little choice ..no ??
they follow their calling
right into these schooling chambers
and once there
they try what can be tried
within the institutional confines
and confounds ...

they try as best they can
to evoke
the flames of awakening spirits

its like a race across a field
in the pouring rain and howling wind
shielding a brief candle


the teachers unions
are both bulwark of the labor movement and
source of nasty pleb tax payer
blow back

i have little notion how to square that circle
let alone the paradox of watered down deweyism
the cultivated ravings of the fundy hords

i will add this

the vouchers with the inevitable fragmentation and mult nuclearization
of primary ed
might actually increase pluralism here
produce a nation
with greater contradictions
among "the people"...ever a gloriously
prefered outcome


the Mann-Dewey synthesis is crumbling anyway
why not accelerate the process

uncle milty freemonger as KALI
of a coming progressive morph
in our socialization


SWMNBM omitted a fiction (society) to insert a fiction (tapestry).

Nothing caught on.


your point by parallel cuts deep
into the crow's chest

crow may out nominalize dear maggie
but to no consequence

as if such attacks
if carried closer to the limit
might return back on themselves

as they don't
our man t crow
no longer recognizes
he's simply back in kansas

indeed he never even left

both maggie and our crow
attempt to liquidate
a looming opponent out there
swimming in the real soup

mz M
battles class dynamics
by dissolving them into
just so many damn fool individuals
bumping and clumping into each other

whereas crow puts out of existence....
miracle of miracles ..
just by logic and and steadfast willing
that nasty
anti " solitary soul liberation movement "
collective figment
commonly know as
"the state "

go for it crow !!!

Al Schumann:

The Crow/Thatcher equivalence is odious.

Thatcher venerated institutional thuggery and worked, successfully, to increase its scope and impunity. The fatuous, organic communitarianism she espoused was class-restricted and subsidized by the working class. She believed in society, but only for the right people, and she played semantics with the word as a cover for brutalization to enforce upward redistribution.

Crow's take comes close to orthodox ontological anarchism. Its major flaw is its harmlessness.


above there are vague gestures at the voucher system unleashing public funding
of jesus-ite yahoo-istry

class diabolique ???

not too seriously so
how much worse off are
our wage class youth
variously tarnished
as trog cross bearers
bored to hell
do bee / don't bee 's

the human mind may be a social product but each one of these socioally produced minds
introjects the contradictions that
in their obscurely chaotic workings
somehow propell the struggle forward
with or without
6 degrees of separation
from pour soi class plight awareness


"The Crow/Thatcher equivalence is odious."

fair enough
consider it retracted

clearly as these nominalisms
should be weighed
by what real actions they clothe

maggies is viciously
cataclysmically destructive

a churppy lullaby
certain slightly darker damper souls
can fall fast asleep to

Al Schumann:

Thanks, Owen. I appreciate the retraction. Zombie Dame Thatcher's "living tapestry" has a way of dealing with unruly threads. They get snipped prophylactically as an organic expression of the tapestry's will.


"teachers unions are . . bulwark of the labor movement. ."

Do teachers identify with industrial workers? Do they understand class theories? If they are the labor movement, are they conservative or progressive?

Oh shit, never mind! There are nice ones among 'em, just on the whole they seem to be plodding along like monks (doubtless because that's how we value them.)

i have this sense that if we battle down health care costs the school system problems begin to unwind. i like charter schools, when they're open and available, but i don't see how vouchers avoid becoming crap education at higher costs, like medicare privatization.

further, the cost of transport will matter. people will need guaranteed good local choices.

Coming in late just because I felt like hapa's comment here deserved some love. Carry on.

Solar Hero:

And we gotta bring the population down, betcha everyone from the poorest to the highest-middle-class would give a second thought about having a child if there was no public schools to put them in!

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