Home > Uncategorized > When the Doors to Privatization Open, Why Wouldn’t Halliburton Walk In?

When the Doors to Privatization Open, Why Wouldn’t Halliburton Walk In?

The Modern Learner blog provides links to thought provoking articles like the one by Andrew Smith from June 2015 titled “Arms Companies Are Making Money by Taking Over UK Schools”. After reading that article, I reframed the question for this side of the Atlantic and pieced together a plausible scenario that might lead in exactly that direction.

As most well-read Americans realize, in his final speech to the nation as President, Dwight Eisenhower warned the nation that they needed to be aware of the effects of the military-industrial complex that was gaining an ever stronger foothold on the United States. He foresaw an economy dependent on wars and military spending based on his observation of how these two sectors of the marketplace interacted with each other. He probably never imagined the day would come when arms manufacturers would be poised to take over the day-to-day operation of public schools in partnership with the military who viewed the schools as fertile recruiting grounds… but that’s where the UK is headed and that’s where we could be going next.

Diane Ravitch has written at least two books and hundreds of blog posts describing how public schools are becoming privatized and deregulated and she has been joined in this effort by a team of bloggers working collaboratively to bring this to the nation’s attention. Once the door to deregulated privatization is opened, what’s to stop a firm like Halliburton or a firm underwritten by Halliburton, from taking over public schools?

But here’s an even more Orwellian thought… As noted on several occasions in this blog, schools are effectively conditioning children to accept an environment where they are technologically surveilled throughout the day and “protected” from “shooters” by “good guys with guns” and elaborate gates. Smith’s article includes this chilling analysis on how schools support military recruitment:

As Turkish academic Serdar M. Değirmencioğlu has said: “Schools provide fertile ground for militarism: there is a captive audience, a comprehensive mandate, a hierarchical structure and a clear power differential between students and professionals.”

Add to this mix the notion that the only thing separating innocent children from daily peril is “a good guy with a gun” and a sophisticated monitoring system that keeps the “bad guys” away and you can see how more and more impressionable children might be drawn into the defense industry and more and more dollars might be diverted away from the classroom and into things like the high-tech surveillance systems described in earlier posts. And Smith enumerates several examples of how the military and armament manufacturers are preying on fear to take over school programming and recruiting the brightest and best students into their world.

Smith concludes his article with this paragraph:

Schools are fundamental to our society. They are meant to be safer places for learning and should not be sold hotbeds for militarism and corporations. They exist to educate children and young people and to develop their ideas and understanding of the world. They should not be allowed to become training grounds for arms companies and those that profit from war.

Every dollar we spend in response to fear reinforces the captive nature of learning and dulls creativity and curiosity. Every school we turn over to corporate interests diminishes the communitarian goals of schooling. We need to do everything possible to keep the doors of our schools open in both directions and the governance of schools in the public domain.

 

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  1. April 5, 2016 at 7:22 pm

    Thank you for your insights. We seem to be on a fast-track to “dulling” many things in our society, including, lately, our citizens’ very ability to walk/run/play. Dulling curiosity, however, is our worst success so far….

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