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Noam Chomsky
NationofChange / Op-Ed
Published: Thursday 5 April 2012
“Community colleges increasingly face similar prospects – and the shortfalls extend to grades K-12.”

The Assault on Public Education

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Public education is under attack around the world, and in response, student protests have recently been held in Britain, Canada, Chile, Taiwan and elsewhere.

California is also a battleground. The Los Angeles Times reports on another chapter in the campaign to destroy what had been the greatest public higher education system in the world: “California State University officials announced plans to freeze enrollment next spring at most campuses and to wait-list all applicants the following fall pending the outcome of a proposed tax initiative on the November ballot.”

Similar defunding is under way nationwide. “In most states,” The New York Times reports, “it is now tuition payments, not state appropriations, that cover most of the budget,” so that “the era of affordable four-year public universities, heavily subsidized by the state, may be over.”

Community colleges increasingly face similar prospects – and the shortfalls extend to grades K-12.

“There has been a shift from the belief that we as a nation benefit from higher education, to a belief that it’s the people receiving the education who primarily benefit and so they should foot the bill,” concludes Ronald G. Ehrenberg, a trustee of the State University system of New York and director of the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute.

A more accurate description, I think, is “Failure by Design,” the title of a recent study by the Economic Policy Institute, which has long been a major source of reliable information and analysis on the state of the economy.

The EPI study reviews the consequences of the transformation of the economy a generation ago from domestic production to financialization and offshoring. By design; there have always been alternatives.

One primary justification for the design is what Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz called the “religion” that “markets lead to efficient outcomes,” which was recently dealt yet another crushing blow by the collapse of the housing bubble that was ignored on doctrinal grounds, triggering the current financial crisis.

Claims are also made about the alleged benefits of the radical expansion of financial institutions since the 1970s. A more convincing description was provided by Martin Wolf, senior economic correspondent for The Financial Times: “An out-of-control financial sector is eating out the modern market economy from inside, just as the larva of the spider wasp eats out the host in which it has been laid.”

The EPI study observes that the “Failure of Design” is class-based. For the designers, it has been a stunning success, as revealed by the astonishing concentration of wealth in the top 1 percent, in fact the top 0.1 percent, while the majority has been reduced to virtual stagnation or decline.

In short, when they have the opportunity, “the Masters of Mankind” pursue their “vile maxim â(euro) [ all for ourselves and nothing for other people,” as Adam Smith explained long ago.

Mass public education is one of the great achievements of American society. It has had many dimensions. One purpose was to prepare independent farmers for life as wage laborers who would tolerate what they regarded as virtual slavery.

The coercive element did not pass without notice. Ralph Waldo Emerson observed that political leaders call for popular education because they fear that “This country is filling up with thousands and millions of voters, and you must educate them to keep them from our throats.” But educated the right way: Limit their perspectives and understanding, discourage free and independent thought, and train them for obedience.

The “vile maxim” and its implementation have regularly called forth resistance, which in turn evokes the same fears among the elite. Forty years ago there was deep concern that the population was breaking free of apathy and obedience.

At the liberal internationalist extreme, the Trilateral Commission – the nongovernmental policy group from which the Carter Administration was largely drawn – issued stern warnings in 1975 that there is too much democracy, in part due to the failures of the institutions responsible for “the indoctrination of the young.” On the right, an important 1971 memorandum by Lewis Powell, directed to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the main business lobby, wailed that radicals were taking over everything – universities, media, government, etc. – and called on the business community to use its economic power to reverse the attack on our prized way of life – which he knew well. As a lobbyist for the tobacco industry, he was quite familiar with the workings of the nanny state for the rich that he called “the free market.”

Since then, many measures have been taken to restore discipline. One is the crusade for privatization – placing control in reliable hands.

Another is sharp increases in tuition, up nearly 600 percent since 1980. These produce a higher education system with “far more economic stratification than is true of any other country,” according to Jane Wellman, former director of the Delta Cost Project, which monitors these issues. Tuition increases trap students into long-term debt and hence subordination to private power.

Justifications are offered on economic grounds, but are singularly unconvincing. In countries rich to poor, including Mexico next-door, tuition remains free or nominal. That was true as well in the United States itself when it was a much poorer country after World War II and huge numbers of students were able to enter college under the GI bill – a factor in uniquely high economic growth, even putting aside the significance in improving lives.

Another device is the corporatization of the universities. That has led to a dramatic increase in layers of administration, often professional instead of drawn from the faculty as before; and to imposition of a business culture of “efficiency” – an ideological notion, not just an economic one.

One illustration is the decision of state colleges to eliminate programs in nursing, engineering and computer science, because they are costly – and happen to be the professions where there is a labor shortage, as The New York Times reports. The decision harms the society but conforms to the business ideology of short-term gain without regard for human consequences, in accord with the vile maxim.

Some of the most insidious effects are on teaching and monitoring. The Enlightenment ideal of education was captured in the image of education as laying down a string ^ @that students follow in their own ways, developing their creativity and independence of mind.

The alternative, to be rejected, is the image of pouring water into a vessel – and a very leaky one, as all of us know from experience. The latter approach includes teaching to test and other mechanisms that destroy students’ interest and seek to fit them into a mold, easily controlled. All too familiar today.

Copyright 2012 Noam Chomsky

© The New York Times Company
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ABOUT Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, and activist. He is an Institute Professor and pressor emeritus of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Techonology. Chomsky is well known in the academic and scientific communities as one of the fathers of modern linguistics, and a major figure of analytic philosophy. Chomsky is the author of more than 150 books and has received worldwide attention for his views.

It is time to develop the

It is time to develop the human to full capacity. This can be done within equality, as the present system profit creates more than and less than, and thus greed and competition to survive as money has been made god, and thus determines who lives and who dies.
if man is developed and really taught to read, then the illusion would begin to appear as what it is, an imposition placed on an unconditionally giving earth; resources given freely to support life. We are not as this earth, the human does not give as it receives, but places labels ( false idols) of ownership onto what the earth gives freely, and creates an illusion of lack, and much suffering on this earth.
The only way out is to implement an Basic Income Grant, this will lead to equality,as we realize life is the value.
It is time to rid this earth of imposed hierarchies, as each centralized government - no matter the "ism" - has been a centralized regime that has not allowed the support of life, where one gives as one would like to receive.
Stand up and support an equal money system,

You accumulate loans and you

You accumulate loans and you become indentured to a mad, maddening culture.

Public education under the

Public education under the modern liberal atheist socialists has gone from first in the world to 27th place despite spending twice as much in real dollars after adjusting for inflation per student. The problem is systemic and unreformable. Time for a pure voucher system. Keep the money and home school using a winning curriculum from the marketplace or send off to private schools using the voucher. Retain standardized testing and make arrangements for special needs students. Time for a hard reset.

Chomsky is never discredited

Chomsky is never discredited because he speaks the truth of many of our lives.

Why isn't Chomsky completely

Why isn't Chomsky completely discredited by now? If you claim that the housing bubble was the result of free market policies everyone who knows anything about economics knows you're completely ignorant/lying. So why do people still listen to him?

The assault on public

The assault on public education is real and will only be adequately dealt with when the teachers stand up, organize and resist. Unfortunately most of my fellow teachers are too comfortable, do not understand their power, or are part of one of the me generation(s). The time will come, better sooner than later.

Thank you Noam Chomsky for

Thank you Noam Chomsky for the "vile maxim" succinct meme for the cancer in the system that feeds on "itself" seen as "the other"

Is it possible to have wisdom councils, meet ups around the nation that can design for the world we want to see manifest? Set up the online space for resource sharing on the national level but meet in real time, face time, locally as often as possible.
Pool resources to enable group funded projects that can grow the local economies. Co-ops, CSAs are tip of possibilities, share selling for investing local so the community "wins" as does "life."-We need solar, wind etc. community grids, more urban farmscaping, cisterns, focus on local talent first, appreciate what we have and support each other’s potentials to be amazing..

The startup hubs will be experimental orgs that can then share their stories and help other groups and/or entrepreneurs -which will entice more communities into self designing situations. This will change the dynamics of power as independent viability will rock.
This is how to design for growing possibilities while focusing on life (the whole living planet, interrelated, connected cross disciplinary rich web of unknown and known) -not on how to take advantage of life.

A lot of energy is going into fighting (like Oc) but we need to build the alternatives. I am working in a gallery space as art has always been at the fore of the new stories. Design workshops that teach craft but utilize visioning and theme to stimulate the discourse.

Imagine the next step then put your foot there..and so on.

States are no longer able to

States are no longer able to subsidize in-state students because of massive and rapidly rising Medicaid expenses. Another reason why we need Medicare for all. We also need to introduce strong merit measures for students and teachers with matching recognition and rewards. It is a travesty that we are firing large numbers of teachers but an even bigger one that the weakest are not being weeded out.

As a public institution,

As a public institution, education was always a vulnerable political target. The right has understood this from the beginning and did the obvious thing to insure it was well leashed to their agenda. They created a parallel system of their own and their archipelago of private brainwashing factories - called them "schools" and "universities" and used that as a platform to stuff civil service and critical political platforms (Law, Finance, Education...) with thoroughly indoctrinated people armed with their bogus credentials. They didn't have to carry out a conspiracy with their indoctrinees. They just had to point them in the direction of the "right" jobs and let time do the rest.

Unfortunately, the progressive left never caught on to the power of that agenda. In particular, it never set up its own string of correspondingly progressive institutions, k-12 and universities, specially designed to counter the effect of the "Liberty Universities" of the country. Instead, we've depended on public institutions and a very few "liberal" private ones to "stay liberal" - we thought it a natural conclusion of real education that these schools and their students would remain enlightened. Bad mistake. Even now, we ought be supporting and endowing decidedly private progressive schools that have no qualms or shame about being on the human side of the human project; no more than the right is ashamed of its fanatic, darwinian, fundamentalist agendas. What do we think they are producing in those factories of fascism, where do we think their students go after graduation? Not hard to figure out that in a generation or two, the agenda for dismantling our universities would be well underway. It is, and that is what we are seeing come to fruition now.

unfortunately public

unfortunately public education is becoming an oxymoron shoveling kids to be baby sitted another 4 years is not the answer

They pepper spray students,

They pepper spray students, dont they?

David Duke? Ron Paul? Wow,

David Duke? Ron Paul? Wow, welcome to the intelligent state. TALK with someone who has worked five jobs while teaching at universities and community colleges -- from AZ, NM, TX and WA. Ya wanna dry wall till, what, 35? Sure, half my students were screwed by construction companies, the call centers, the Walmarts and Amazons. Screw the future. Everyone should go to college -- at some point in their lives. Call it tech college, two-year college, retraining, job-shift, whatever. How can anyone even yammer about stuents in California prepping for a life of study, as if that's bad?

You have Apple or Microsoft or Gates Foundation -- all trolling for college graduates, multiple degrees, languages. Then, you have Apple executive saying, "It's not Apple's job to solve America's problems." You know what he means. These welfare cheats, these Boeings, these transnational companies pushing billions up their brains trapped in their underwear, you think they care about out communities, our country, our global situation? Right.

Give me college educated smart people with hearts and some labor under their belts, and get them out into the communities NOW. By the millions. They will fix this limping country of consumer-orgasm beasts.

Davdid Duke. Yep, and if Hitler went green -- wind farms and solar panels and all for his little 8 million person murdering scheme -- David's friends would calll him "the greenest fascist in the world . . . the way we like 'em."

Funn guy above, funny as a beached fruit bat!

so what is the answer - we

so what is the answer - we need a paradign change in government - fast!
Check out David Dukes webside He acually believes in "American first" Yeah, he was a member of the KKK as a kid, as were thousands of Southerners at the time including Bob Byrd of W VA
That was then, now is now Check out his platform Tell me where he is wrong!

He wasn't a member of the KKK

He wasn't a member of the KKK "as a kid" he was the grand wizard or whatever ridiculous title those morons awarded him. Here in Louisiana and all across the south klansmen are rare. It wasn't as if everybody was in the Klan in the 70s. Even though it repulsed me I went and checked his site. Pretty disgusting. Here's a tip for you: if someone is constantly warning of "zionist" conspiracies and advocating "White Civil Rights", then he's a racist. Also, do not capitalize random letters when writing.

My post at Light of New

My post at Light of New Mexico makes the same analogy about parasites destroying the social contract:

Why are we directing ALL High

Why are we directing ALL High School graduates to college? In California the imposition of the wait-list will short-stop many, many students who were prepared for nothing but more study.

Why are we directing ALL High

Why are we directing ALL High School graduates to college? In California the imposition of the wait-list will short-stop many, many students who were prepared for nothing but more study.

Third World countries don't

Third World countries don't need educated citizens, and the US is getting more third world every day as manufacturing jobs go overseas and we export increasing amounts of raw materials while importing more and more manufactured goods.

President Bill Clinton informed the country that Globalization would require this country to lower its standard of living so the third world (China, India, Brazil, etc.) could raise theirs. He wasn't talking about lowering his standard of living or those of his family members and friends. The destruction of the middle class in this country is the manifestation of Globalization, and the plutocrats and their political elite whores won't allow it to be resurrected.

In the mid American in which

In the mid American in which I grew up public education was extolled as " the Foundation of America's Greatness." The "Establishment" had an anti-Catholic bias and often ranted against government financed bussing to parochial schools. Businesses and corporations welcomed the source of a government financed educated workforce. Gradually we have seen these organization opting for educating the masses "their way." As they captured control of our educational system while destroying unions they were creating a cadre of robots without civic responsibility or concern for the commonweal. This trend continues abetted by their relentless propaganda and economic power without an effective counter movement to arrest or moderate it.


SaDanzig: The analysis is correct. The student debt today is higher than Fannie

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