Saturday, March 12, 2011

The “Critical” Crisis of Public Education in America

Black Buzz News Service
College Park, MD
March 12, 2011

By: Solomon Comissiong

The United States continues to produce one of the most underachieving and disproportionately unequal public school systems within the realm of industrialized countries. Despite a wealth of monetary resources the American public school system has grown quite comfortable when it comes to the vast under funding of myriad of its public schools. The US public school system is separated by chasms of inequality based on everything from socioeconomic class lines to race. The children who come from the most opulent (and mostly white) communities have the most well funded and resourced schools in the land of social injustice. What more would we expect from a country that penalizes school-children whose parents are not property owners. In the land of a bloodthirsty and unbridled capitalist economic system even the futures of kids are auctioned off to the highest bidder. And with the recent attacks on public education by the Obama administration, via Race to the Top, there is no end in sight. Privatizing public education by way of a well funded charter school scam has been working like a charm for the cretins that masterminded this lucrative scheme. Dedicated school teachers and their unions are currently facing a relentless attack that is being financially backed by Wall Street, the White House, as well as conservative and liberal minions, alike. These monsters in wolves clothing could not give a damn about quality and equal education for all; they care about their bloated bank accounts. Despite the litany of class and race based issues that reside within America’s failing public school system, there is at least one major problem that exists within, both, poor and well to do school systems. No matter how wealthy or impoverished the community that any given school may reside within, the vast majority of them are devoid of curricula laden with critical thinking instruction.

Most Americans are systematically steered away from even the most rudimentary critical thinking skill acquisition, from cradle to grave. The US ruling class has long been petrified of a truly engaged mass of people who bring with them a strong critical thinking prowess. They will never admit their reasoning as to why they dumb down the American citizenry, for it is fear of ultimately losing their power and control. Democracy is but a mere illusion that has been sold to the American public in exchange for their minds. The scant few that control every major institution within American society have more than bought into Walter Lippmann’s “Bewildered Herd” theory—they have fully incorporated it within their mass control playbook. He, like the rulers of today, believed that the general public is incapable of making critical decisions regarding the very society they live in, thus they must methodically be fed a steady diet of limited political information. In essence the general public must be controlled by propaganda aimed at routinely mollifying and shaping them in to obedient pawns for the elitist puppeteers that ultimately control them. These elites have set up an evil system based not on the human-being itself, nor the community—it is based on capital. It is a system that is pays dividends to the highest bidders regardless whether it is healthcare or education. Ironically enough many of those most exploited by this system, which is non other than capitalism, are the ones who most support it. How can this be; one might ask? It can be, and is, because much of the general public has been mass indoctrinated to the point that they know not even where they began their one-sided love affair for capitalism and Americanism, in general. Their indoctrination and stunting of the growth of their critical thinking receptors can be traced back to their earliest days in America’s public schools. Most of America’s public schools have become assembly lines whose primary task is to produce the next generation of workers, purposely devoid of critical thought. The nascent minds of America’s youth are treated like widgets intended to be placed within the mammoth gears of an unforgivable system of haves and have-nots. This is a necessary process because if more people were trained to critically think and examine the society they live in; they would work collectively to change it into something much more equitable.

America’s schools have become the warehouses for the sustaining of a class based society with all the trappings of institutional racism, sexism, and poverty. Within the schools that operate inside of opulent communities students are taught that if you work hard enough you can pull yourself up by the proverbial “bootstraps”. They are not taught to think of the origins of their communities’ wealth. They are not taught about the injustice of America’s separate and unequal school systems. They surely are not taught about the cons of capitalism, only of the mythological pros. You see, education even within many “well to do” high schools are riddled with a kind of social engineering that trains kids from rich families to see themselves as different or better than kids from economically impoverished communities. Instead of teaching them to see the flaws of capitalism and how it prevents the masses from enjoying the same opportunities that their parents money has bought them; it does the complete opposite, thus ensuring the endurance of the nefarious status quo. The limited critical thinking exercises they may get are as methodic as US electoral politics. This is where the attacks on wealth distribution begin—by way of the omission of any real dialogue regarding the real roots of legacy poverty in America. This is where students from privileged backgrounds could gain some serious critical insight regarding the purposeful lack of wealth distribution in America. However, as the author stated earlier, critical thought leads to a more progressive society—that kind of society is not welcomed by the ruling class. They are the true minority.

Those routinely labeled as “minorities” in America have the least funded schools. These schools reside mostly within inner city and rural communities which have been systematically neglected by the government. They have been isolated and marked for failure; there is nothing accidental about this. Students of color are regularly fed a multilayered poisonous cake of oppression and institutional racism. And as if that were not enough, they are also robbed of any critical thought regimen within the regressive pre-packaged curriculum that is force fed to them. This curriculum aims at not only forcing them to assimilate within an imbalanced Eurocentric paradigm; it also duplicitously trains them to serve as the future employees of white corporate thugs. This is all geared towards ensuring that, regardless of how many people of color are in the US, they will always remain within a deceptive and destructive web of exploitation. The disease of capitalism continues to metastasize within the already anemic body of the American Public School System. Children within the poorest school systems have become commodities for Wall Street ventriloquists and the puppet-like politicians they control with unlimited satchels dirty money. Repugnant companies like Wal-Mart continue to prey upon students, as they did at Frederick Douglass Academy in Detroit, trying to funnel them in to the bowels of Wal-Mart stores as employees of a company that has a tainted history of racism, sexism and rugged exploitation. Black and brown students are being experimented on as if they were bacteria stuck on the bottom of a Petri dish, thus the charter school scam continues to gain momentum. The current charter school frenzy is a nefarious scheme designed to destroy inner city public schools, dismantle teachers’ unions, and make corporations even more filthy rich. This all happens as the US government continually de-funds a vastly under-funded and under-resourced public school system.

I have had the opportunity to visit and work with students, teachers and administrators from a wide array of public schools, many within some of America’s most impoverished communities. Many of these educators continue to work tirelessly despite the ongoing attacks on their professions, their unions, as well as facing draconian budget cuts to their schools. Everywhere from Rhode Island to California, thousands of dedicated teachers are getting their pink slips in the most callous manner. The US government, from top to bottom, continues to prove that it could give a damn about its failing school system, or the children within them. I have seen students struggling to learn despite being situated inside vastly dilapidated schools. They exhibit a strength and resilience that continues to inspire me. Forty students to a classroom with only 24 books is something I have witnessed on numerous occasions. This is not right in any way, shape or form. These children reside within a country whose government continues to find reprehensible reason after reprehensible reason to excessively over-fund an already bloated military, all the while neglecting the needs of a long list of under-funded schools. These schools are the sweatshops of the US government corporation. These students can be likened to exploited workers within the factories owned and operated by American corporations, worldwide. The workers receive no benefits and receive meager pay while working 10, 11, and 12 hours a day in ungodly conditions. In some sick and twisted way, they are supposed to appreciate the inhumane conditions assigned to them by corporate gangsters. They are not supposed to even remotely think about the conditions they are languishing in. They are supposed to grin and bear it. Unions are a threat to the exploitive corporate thugs and their power structure. Critical thought is simply a nuisance. When put within this context, it should be fairly easy to see the warranted comparison between most schools within impoverished communities and that of sweatshops. The teachers’ unions are threats to exploitive local, state and federal governments quick to pinch pennies at the expense of auspicious students. They want their teachers to work longer, with fewer resources, and with depleted benefits and an increased lack of financial security. The students are like the sweatshop workers—-relegated to toil in conditions that most politicians on Capitol Hill politicians would never even think of sending their children to. The children are never to critically think about the conditions they have been relegated to within these so-called schools. The conductors of America’s separate and unequal school systems very well know that, if more students critically thought about the conditions they are asked to learn in, they would relentlessly demand better! They also know that if critical thought was infused throughout all of America’s schools of haves and have-nots, America just might become a more just and egalitarian society. Until we, all, decide to demand more for America’s children, regardless of their socioeconomic background, this country will continue to exploit those who cannot afford to buy their way to the top of their voracious capitalist food chain where the rule of the jungle is, ‘eat or be eaten’. It is time we all stand up and fight in solidarity with America’s teachers, their unions, and on behalf of the kids who simply deserve much better. The time is now…

Solomon Comissiong is an educator, community activist, author, public speaker and the host of the Your World News media collective ( and

7 Responses for “The “Critical” Crisis of Public Education in America”

rabshakeh says:

March 10, 2011 at 9:14 am
spot-on analysis of the structural obscenity that is the public school system in amerika. it is crucial that we understand your point that capitalism, predatory and exploitative by nature, is the cancer of public education, and every other social organ in the body politic. and lets not forget that in addition to indoctrination of schoolchildren for wage slavery and corporate servitude, the apparatus preys on our kids for a steady flow of warm bodies [and undernourished minds] into the burgeoning prison system and the rapacious military machine. and as you’ve stated, the role of racism cannot be understated in this diabolical system of greed and exploitation. we are witnessing the systematic unraveling of society.


weilunion says:

March 10, 2011 at 9:43 am
Time to fight against capitalist schooling and not simply defend public education. Education should be public, don’t get me wrong, but it is the curriculum that must be critically examined. We need to teach our kids critical thinking methods and processes for problem solving and change making.

Until we can offer a curriculum that is based on critical thinking we will continue to compare test scores from one dungeon of despair to another.

The best education students can receive now is to emerge themselves in struggle. To resist is to create, to create is to resist.


Kiksuya8610 says:

March 10, 2011 at 10:37 am
Last night on NPR there was a report glorifying a new chartered school in DC that “teaches” students how to apply what they learn in school to “real life” by creating scenarios at the school where students act out roles in the hospitality industry. The NPR reporter talked about how students learning French would practice how to properly greet their guests and tour them around the hotel as an excerise for their French class. The report ended basically stating that this was great for DC and for the students since the hospitatlity industry in DC is of great economic importance and this chartered school better prepared the students for life after school. All the students interviewed where African American and it is obvious that such a charter school would only be allowed to practice such indoctrination at a predominately Black school. This would never happen to white kids in the suburbs. The students in this chartered school are not given the opportunity to apply physics to the work of an engineer or practice how calculus is used in the medical field or how macro level analysis of social problems is used by sociocultural anthropolgists. Instead these students are limited and systematically forced to enter the service industry. They are trained to be subservient. Both covertly and overtly told that this is all they can aspire to and nothing more. There is nothing wrong with being in the service sector or with blue collar jobs, however, what is wrong with this situation is that Black children are being forced to one type of job, they are being trained not educated to chose for themselves what they would like to grow up to be. As the author has eloquently stated these chartered schools are perfect examples of separate and unequal schools systems and living proof of todays institualized racism!


gene dickson says:

March 10, 2011 at 3:12 pm
This article belongs in the editorial column. I can’t even finish it because it is so opinionated. Just the facts pleez!


rabshakeh says:

March 11, 2011 at 11:11 am
gene, sounds more like you can’t handle the truth of what amerikan capitalism is doing to the education system, and every other facet of life. the above piece is a progressive ANALYSIS, and therefore incorporates language that describes the social realities resulting from the corporate raping of we the people, in addition to the many facts the author noted. the author’s critical approach [application of critical thinking & analysis] inevitably results in the revelations you want to dismiss as “opinions.” its the reality, gene. deal with it.


Gene is Lame says:

March 12, 2011 at 4:51 am
Gene, you clearly are a product of America’s crappy school system. This article is laden with significant nuggets of information woven between the author’s perspective. America’s schools are this bad and even worse and this is by the design of the ruling class. Gene wake up and sop being and idiot. Your America is an illusion!


William Crain says:

March 11, 2011 at 1:06 am
Capitalism is the Problem… a couple months back Rupert Murdock told a large audience that there is $500 Billion dollars to be made in Privatized Education… (of course that would mean the demise of Unions) …

However Rupert is a ‘johnny come lately’ as Bill Gates, Wal-mart, and the Sec of Education the militant Arne ‘race to the bottom’ Duncan began officially to move the Neo-liberal economic template on to Education… As evidenced in the Fredrick Douglass Academy – except for that one kid in the back of the class – can’t remember his name… but he jerked their covers.

More Kids, few teachers, Bigger Classes, less pay, More wage slavery, more dead in Wal mart jobs … More Economic Conscription more Global Hegemony… things are pretty bad right now.

The Article was right on as it weighed in on the quagmire before us – the facts will bear out the dumbing down and the unskilled as Educators, as public education takes beating after beating — i’m a product of public education (except for high school) the Education fabric of America is unraveling fast. With out good solid Public Education America the Working Class will be pushed even further down – only the rich will have school – only the rich will have babies – only the rich will be allowed to ???

Good comments Rabshakeh, Weilunion, Kiksuya -


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