Dave Pollard shows how dysfunctional relationships in a “crooked broker society” create systems that are not fit for meaningful human life.
In each industry, an Exploiter oppresses a Desperate Supplier. This unbalanced relationship is reinforced by a Procurer who in turn gouges an Addicted Buyer. Dave’s graphic shows several examples:
So what about public education?
Are teachers the desperate suppliers, exploited by the school system which has a virtual monopoly on education jobs?
Are publishers, testing companies and universities the procurers who gouge the addicted parents, looking for any advantage in a shrinking middle class?
To show how vested interests control public education and stifle reform, Roger Shank describes the roles of these groups, in Rich Folks Misunderstand Educational Reform:
1. Teachers – Teachers would have to teach differently and no one really wants to change what they do on a day to day basis. True, teachers’ lives have been made so miserable by previous politicians’ attempts at reform that they are more open to change than ever, but still, they really don’t want to have to go to school to learn new methodologies.
2. Publishers – Big corporations have a real stake in education staying the way it has been. They don’t want to throw out all their textbooks and start over. They would spend a lot of money making sure this doesn’t happen.
3. Testing companies – Politicians have helped create an enormous industry that prepares and grades tests. They won’t give up their business without a fight. No real reform will take place if teachers are still teaching to the test and if we continue to teach stuff that is easy to test rather than giving kids open ended issues to think about and real workplace skills.
4. Universities – Any real school reform means changing how universities conduct admissions and convincing them to teach in college the subjects they have foisted upon the high schools (like algebra). This will never happen since it would also mean that colleges would need to interview students instead of relying upon grades and test scores for admission.
5. Parents – Parents tend to think school is a competition and they reinforce all the testing and grading in the hopes that their kid will win. In addition they believe that whatever they learned in school is what should be taught despite the fact that they have since forgotten all that they learned in school.
I think that local control of public education could fragment this system and weaken the position of the middlemen so that the Exploiters and Procurers would lose their centralized power and influence. “Small pieces, loosely joined” may be the right strategy for educational reform.