22 May 2006


Check out Schools Matter, a weblog about education. Its contributors, Peter Campbell, Jim Horn, and Judy Rabin, appear to be "progressive," a label which covers many different streams of thought in American education, including, fortunately, Rethinking Schools, a magazine whose webpage is linked to theirs and which advocates "primacy of teaching for social justice to readers." The contributors, Peter Campbell, Jim Horn, and Judy Rabin, appear to be well educated in the ways of educational theory and politics. The blog itself is focused upon marshaling political opposition to the No Child Left Behind Act and other right-wing brainchildren which (they claim) are intended to dismantle America's public school system. Connections are made, money-trails are followed, and education is revealed as a form of class warfare pursued by other means.

This blog has been around for about a year now. The frequent posts which decorate its pages are full of documentation. They deal comprehensively with various aspects of American education.

The combination of "progressive" discourse and comprehensive focus means that discussions on Schools Matter often stray into economic analyses of American life. Examine, for instance, this post, for example. The crisis the "neo-cons" are said to have instituted in teacher training is in substance a matter of shifting standards. "Create an emergency with an unrealizable goal, and then solve the problem by making teachers highly-qualified by making them less qualified," Horn argues. But, in showing how the neoconservative dog and pony show works, Horn reveals educational policy against a background of expanding service-industry jobs and increasing financial difficulties for public-school teachers.

In theory, any academic field is "really about economics," or at least about political economy. Academic institutions, after all, spend money to produce knowledge, so that knowledge can enhance the power of those who pay for it. Should we expect any less from capitalism? For instance, insights into the Special Theory of Relativity were bankrolled into the development of atomic weaponry (& thus also nuclear power). The connection to political-economic reality is revealed in academia through education as an academic field. Education is therefore more intensely "really about economics", for education studies focuses upon (among other things) the bankrolling of knowledge into technologies and social formations that promote power.

Blogs such as Schools Matter provide meaningful background in that regard for anyone wishing to know how economic and political interests promote themselves through educational institutions. The status quo, btw, does not look promising; the public appears ignorant, the entrenched interests appear powerful, and America is becoming the land of test-taking zombies. Only revolt will do us good. Cheers!


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