Home > Uncategorized > The Dark Side of “Free Agent” Employment… and it’s Link to Privatized Public Schools

The Dark Side of “Free Agent” Employment… and it’s Link to Privatized Public Schools

February 24, 2015

In 2002 futurist Daniel Pink wrote a book titled Free Agent Nation that forecasted a future where employees would be unencumbered by employers’ constraints and be free to, in effect, offer their services to the highest bidder. Robert Reich’s Huffington Post essay describes how that concept has played out in reality… and it has not been advantageous for employees! Instead, it has enabled employers to race more rapidly to the bottom in wages, increase hours, and eliminate benefits altogether. As a result, those who develop the logistical plans to deploy “free agents” are making millions while those operating as “free agents” get lower take home pay, less control over their work schedules, and are on their own when it comes to health insurance and pensions.

Reich describes how FedEx and Uber have recruited transportation workers to deliver packages or taxi fares. It is not difficult to see how a deregulated for-profit charter operator could use the same gambit to recruit low wage on-line-teacher-tutors to manage the “personalized learning plans” of scores of students. This would make the cost-per-student far lower than the amount allocated by states and providing a large profit margin for themselves. Indeed, this is not too far removed from the model for-profit post secondary schools use by hiring adjuncts to teach classes either on-line or in rented bricks-and-mortar spaces!

Reich’s essay, then, describes how “reformers” would like to see public schools operate. If they break the “stranglehold” the “government run public school monopoly” and are freed of the “stifling regulations” the “reformers” would be able to replace union workers with at-will contract employees. This would not only “save taxpayers” money and “contain runaway costs” but put money in the pockets of the oligarchs who hope to enter this potentially lucrative market. And the really good news for the profit seekers? They wouldn’t have to take on ALL public schools. They’d leave the affluent districts alone and go after the high poverty districts where parents have no political standing and have kids in schools that are underfunded and understaffed. If you don’t think this is the agenda of the reformers, I invite you to look at the City of Philadelphia and the State of Pennsylvania where something like this scenario is playing out even now.


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