Blog Archives

Life is absurd

I am severely frustrated. The ways in which the United States functions is not working. No one seems to be able to bring about effective organized change or resistance to these ridiculous systems and policies. The wealthy and political classes are free to enjoy and run life as they see fit, and representative democracy seems to be taking more and more voice and power away from most citizens. We have insane racial profiling as evidenced by New York city’s stop and frisk program, ever increasing desire from the government to control internet usage, and then there is the NDAA law that the media has long forgotten. The debates are a sham, to the point where third party candidates like Jill stein WHO HAVE 85% BALLOT ACCESS are arrested for trying to participate. The electoral college makes voting unequal and takes power away from the citizens. Our education system SUCKS. Testing is pointless because it destroys teacher autonomy and puts everyone’s focus on scores rather than the substance of the lessons. Schools have useless age segregation, ever increasing police presence, and dry/expensive textbooks managed solely by the political classes in California and Texas. People are being imprisoned at an ever increasing rate due to an abstract “war on drugs”. Minorities are the main people going to jail because such communities struggle the most with drug related problems, and other systemic factors that the political classes in the states and in Washington D.C. are unwilling to investigate or alleviate. The government’s best attempts to solve the nations devastating problems is through laws and legislature that is inaccessible to most people. If there is a problem with drugs, people are imprisoned rather than helped with rehabilitation. If schools are failing, all the political class is willing to do is create standards in a vacuum, that disregard local school and community needs. They either raise pay or bring down sanctions on teachers as if that will cause teachers to magically know all the best ways to educate students. The political class has said time and time again that they only care about schooling in terms of whether or not it makes people ready to plug into the workforce. And people just sit there and accept that? They accept that school is only good to producing workers? Capitalism is a failing economic system that needs to be abolished. At present, we have vast amounts of overproduction that could easily be given to the homeless and poor for free. Companies make so much these days that giving up the surplus would barely put a dent in their profits. Goods are increasingly unable to be repaired by most people, increasing the amount of goods that end up in the landfills. We have a problem of overconsumption and a throwaway culture that cares more about keeping up with trends than preserving what they have, sharing, or repurposing. This country has thousands of empty buildings and lots that could become community centers, schools, homes for the homeless, and food producing gardens. But because of the stubborn idea of private property owned by banks and corporations, all of these resources are left to rot and deteriorate until the next bank or business can afford to buy it. All of this waste, war, incarceration, and failure to get to the root of the problems plagues our society and what are the citizens doing? Because of rampant consumerism most people are compelled to work constantly. The amount of hours people spend working then contributes to crippling alienation and isolation from others. So when it comes time for the population to decide on critical issues like war and education, we are too tired and overwhelmed by work and paying off debt to get together with our neighbors and communities to decide how best to live. We throw our hands up in exhaustion and give every last drop of our decision making power to the political class. Politicians live in a world of their own. They are usually too wealthy to be connected to the needs of most people. Their whole lives are caught up in corporate and bureaucratic negotiations behind closed doors. Or they are televised on C-Span, but never watched by the majority of citizens living here. And why? Because the media has been degraded into a circus of ignorance and irrelevant issues that are paraded as if they are the most pressing issues of our time. Celebrity issues ARE NOT news. Beyond their performances, their lives are none of the nation’s business. The rest of the media features faux-reality tv, or shows that do nothing other than provide a numbing comfort at the end of a long day at work or at school. There is virtually NO reasonable argument to continue to defend and keep the crap media we have today. People should be boycotting, protesting, and making noise about this trash that litters homes across the nation. There are tv series that are both entertaining and get viewers to make connections to society at large. There are shows that allow people to think critically about universal human issues, but those are not the most viewed shows in this country. Music is even worse! All of the radio music today is vapid, and the lyrics are empty and dull. The beats and rhythms are the only thing that keep people listening. All the while, people whose lyrics cover more universal issues and critical ideas are ignored! And why? Because no one wants to hear all that “depressing stuff”. They “just wanna have fun and forget”. And the fire is fueled. This inaction, silence on serious issues, and alienation is destroying our lives. More needs to be done. I’m frustrated that there aren’t more direct action groups or publicized efforts to change the root of society’s ills. It’s disappointing.

Schools as Battlefields for Justice? Teachers as Soldiers?

Previously unreleased, August 25th, 2010

“Put plain and simple, this country needs an army of great new teachers.” – Arne Duncan at the University of Virginia – 2009

“We will recruit an army of new teachers and develop innovative ways to reward teachers who are doing a great job, and we will reform No Child Left Behind so that we are supporting schools that need improvement, rather than punishing them.” – barackobama.com; education solutions

I guess this metaphor is supposed to be patriotic or nice. It’s not. As a person who thinks war is immature, ineffective, and negative, statements like this make me question the goals of such authority.

If the teachers are the army, then what war are they fighting? To recruit an army of teachers means that the teachers are seen as soldiers. In other talks these two men allude to the war being a war for “social justice,” or civil rights or something. Social justice as defined by thefreedictionary.com is as follows:

Social justice refers to the concept of a society in which justice is achieved in every aspect of society, rather than merely the administration of law. It is generally thought of as a world which affords individuals and groups fair treatment and an impartial share of the benefits of society. (Different proponents of social justice have developed different interpretations of what constitutes fair treatment and an impartial share.) It can also refer to the distribution of advantages and disadvantages within a society.

Social justice is both a philosophical problem and an important issue in politics, religion and civil society. Most individuals wish to live in a just society, but different political ideologies have different conceptions of what a ‘just society’ actually is. The term “social justice” is often employed by the political left to describe a society with a greater degree of economic egalitarianism, which may be achieved through progressive taxation, income redistribution, or property redistribution. The right wing also uses the term social justice, but generally believes that a just society is best achieved through the operation of a free market, which they believe provides equality of opportunity and promotes philanthropy and charity. Both the right and the left tend to agree on the importance of rule of law, human rights, and some form of a welfare safety net (though the left supports this last element to a greater extent than the right).

According to Cornell University Law School, civil rights are:

an enforceable right or privilege, which if interfered with by another gives rise to an action for injury. Examples of civil rights are freedom of speech, press, and assembly; the right to vote; freedom from involuntary servitude; and the right to equality in public places. Discrimination occurs when the civil rights of an individual are denied or interfered with because of their membership in a particular group or class. Statutes have been enacted to prevent discrimination based on a person’s race, sex, religion, age, previous condition of servitude, physical limitation, national origin, and in some instances sexual preference.

These are tricky concepts, but based on what these men say, teachers are the soldiers fighting the war for these sorts of things, or more of it ( because we have already come a long way in achieving social justice and civil rights). Gaining social justice is a struggle, but a war? I’m not sure if calling it that does any good. Why must there be war for and on every sector in society? Our whole culture is a war. On drugs. For justice. On terror. For peace (???).

Learning is not a war, it is an adventure. While it can be used as a tool to equip oneself with the awareness necessary to achieve justice, learning overall is discovery and intriguing challenge. What do these men really mean?

Where does this place school administrations and all the higher levels of bureaucracy? Are the teachers the Privates, while all others serve as the Generals, Lieutenants, and Sergeants? Most of all, what are the students? Like the citizens overseas that government leaders claim we want to provide with peace and civility, are the students just the group that needs to be fought for – to have things done to them because we don’t see them fit to achieve for themselves? Okay, so that was definitely a loaded question. 🙂 But seriously, it seems that this war metaphor is used too much. There even used to be a “war on hunger.” Hunger?

What do you guys think? Does the trail oddly make sense? Generals and leaders – Administration and the government -> Privates/Soldiers – teachers -> Civilians/those to be “aided” -> students = The War for Education

And I guess citizens are okay with this kind of language, or most likely, they don’t notice it well.