Wednesday, September 07, 2011

ENG 102: Background Materials for John Bellamy Foster's "Education and the Structural Crisis of Capital"

[ENG 102 students: background materials for Foster's "Education and the Structural Crisis of Capital"

The first question we might have while reading this essay is the "structural crisis of capital":

Capitalism: Peace and Conflict Studies Archive

British Geographer David Harvey on "The Crisis of Capitalism"

American Economist Richard D. Wolff on "The Continuing Economic Crisis"

Sociologist John Bellamy Foster, Communications scholar/Media activist Robert McChesney and sociologist R. Jamil Jonna explore in more depth some of the paradoxes of capitalism in "Monopoly and Competition in Twenty-First Century Capitalism" (this essay is the basis for Foster's outline in the second paragraph)

Singer/Songwriter Tom Chapin’s satirical song questions what is “Not on the Test” (In reference to the No Child Left Behind Act)

Project Censored’s 2009 annual report on the top censored new stories of the year, featured at #12 a story about profiteering off of the No Child Left Behind act: Bush Profiteers Collect Billions From No Child Left Behind

Conservative education advocate Diana Ravitch was originally a supporter and advocate for NCLB, but a few years later after studying the evidence she became one of its harshest critics in her book The Death and Life of the Great American School System – here is an interview with her on NPR and an excerpt from her book: Former 'No Child Left Behind' Advocate Turns Critic

Journalist Chris Hedges questions: Why the United States Is Destroying Its Education System

Sociologist Michael Schwalbe situates the continuing privatization of education as part of: A Primer on Class Struggle

Law and Ethics philosopher Martha Nussbaum questions where we should be heading if we truly want to develop a new: 21st Century Enlightenment and through her answers provides a more global perspective. She also makes a case, like Ken Robinson did in “Changing Education Paradigms,” for the continuing need for the Humanities in the development engaged, critical thinking citizens.

The strongest advocates for a strong “public” education system that would develop passionate, engaged, critical citizens has usually been teachers; thus, they have become targets for those that seek to privatize and standardize the education system (as have their unions which give them a sense of solidarity and strength in a vast bureaucratic system governed by party politics):

Comic/Satirist Jon Stewart on the Daily Show mocks the propaganda behind the continuing attack on education: For Richer and Poorer: Teachers and Wall Street

The Center for Media and Democracy, as reported by PR Watch, produced a report that analyzed how the Billionaire Koch Brothers have been funding and promoting politicians like Wisconsin governor Scott Walker and encouraging them to attack public employee unions (like teachers): The Republican Governors Association and the Kochs' Investment in Scott Walker

When Wisconsin citizens, with the support of people from around the world (during the Egyptian revolution young Egyptians were photographed carrying posters supporting Wisconsin public employee unions in their protests), joined together to occupy the state house in protest of Governor Walker’s attack on teachers, Walker stated that he would call out the national guard to forcefully arrest the people protesting. In response, students from every level, everyday citizens, the Green Bay Packers, police and firefighters, joined them in their protests at the state capitol. This became one of the largest American popular protests (still ongoing) of the 21st Century. Here is a video that documents the passion and hope of the people involved in the protests – the video while not directly stating this as its purpose, no doubt was made to counteract Governor Walker’s claim that the protestors were outsiders and troublemakers: Wisconsin "Budget Repair Bill" Protest

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