Partisan Education: Taking Sides

In the Schools



Rich Gibson, 1992, Alexandria Virginia

Copyright 1997, Renaissance Community Press


Introduction---Page 1

Foundations of Education---5

Why have School? ---9

Myths about school---14

Analogies about school---17

The Students---21

Ruling Class Goals for Education---22

Support workers---25


The Unions---33

Real Trends in Education---39


School Reforms---43

What to Do?---48

A democratic Lesson Plan---49

Schools, Workers and Change--51

Parents, Students, and Change---57

Bibliographical Note---62



You know school. You were there. So was damn near everyone. You know the chairs, the halls, the teacher, the principal, even the johns.

No American institution influences more people than the schools. From the little kids who jump off busses on cold mornings to weary adults in night classes; most people in this society are touched by a school. Schools are voter registration sites, the lone free acreage in many neighborhoods, immunization check points, and food centers. Schools are the prime American institution of social control. Schools are partisan institutions.

It's in school that people learn their place, that this is best of all possible worlds, that destiny is a force beyond the control of most humans, that unique change is undesirable and hopeless, that social divisions based on race,sex and religion are determinative and natural, that selfishness is a survival tool, and that while force is a last resort, it's an available one if the best of all possible worlds is threatened. It's also a great place to sell stuff.

Above all, school prepares people, nearly everyone who sets foot inside, to become active participants in their own oppression, to internalize obedience and anticipate the commands that continue an inequitable social system. Yet there is no place in society where there is more room to address issues, to challenge vital sectors of the population, where there is more room to struggle successfully, than school. Because they perform in circumstances which demand they take sides, only partisan school workers can make education profound.

Recent radical and revolutionary analyses of schools fall flat in that they either see education as a target for an endless series of reforms with no practical plan of how to win change, or they present a frozen picture of schools as nothing but centers for social reproduction. We get misdirection or hopelessness. It is true that a key goal of education is to breed another generation of laborers, but today's generation of schooled laborers is ceaselessly degraded, pressed down by an economy in decline. All of history says these people will resist. Indeed, resistance is the only rational way to address the madness of a society whose mental patients outnumber those hospitalized for all other disorders combined. An evaluation that does not counsel practical forms of resistance fails to place school in its social context.

In brief, it is not enough to explain the oppressive nature of school, the goal is to change it.

Some critiques of school are more on point. They demonstrate the possibilities for contention in school, but they simply don't describe how to do it. The analysts lack practical experience in school skirmishes, confuse the expansion of education with real rebel's work, and leave potential activists adrift. 

For liberals, trendy calls for multi-culturalism and diversity often hide an essentially reactionary agenda; the elevation of race, sex and gender preference above the question of class. The result of thinking that by making demands, or issuing plans, one makes change, some of these reformers usher in racially and sexually segregated schools and immobilize people who might otherwise resist the intensified attacks on working class people which typify this era.

Like another weave in the same cloth, "revolutionary" tacticians are equally crippled by an analysis that sees schools as monoliths, prisons,labor camps, where there is little room for maneuver. It is not enough to "Smash the Schools". There must be a rational process to change them.

What confronts those who seek democratic equality and change is the struggle for a coherent analysis of school, a strategy to build a base of people to make school and society different. The only reforms that have life are those that can be defended by people who understand why they were initially won--and how.

To fundamentally change school, one must address the national economy and realign current political structures. In the thirties, in the midst of a complete financial collapse, a mass coalition of employed and unemployed workers led by employees in the country's rapidly expanded industrial base won three reforms which are now cornerstones of our society: social security, the eight hour day, and a law to govern unionization and collective bargaining. Today, in a crisis of similar if not equivalent magnitude, what is required is another mass movement, an alignment of workers of all kinds, to take direct action for fundamental change. It is not enough for teachers to enter the war of ideas, they must enter the war itself, as organzers.

Education workers, among the last with steady jobs in the country, have a responsibility and interest to take leadership in this movement. This means that school workers must abandon the craft union approach of their organizations which tie them to the most unreliable of allies, the rich, and find real friends among poor and working people who have the most to gain from education in all its forms. 

Educators must recognize that at the crux of this matter is racism, and that the injury of one really does precede injury to all. First we witnessed tens of thousands of mental patients dumped into the streets, none of them rich and nearly all of them graduated to homelessness or death. Concurrently, welfare grants wsere slashed, eligibility rules tightened. Then unions and wages were attacked. Now, ruin of urban schools is but a harbinger of the breakdown of all learning. What is at stake, when one examines the harsh realities of our society, is a matter of life or death for most American citizens.

Consider the breadth of school. There are 15,274 public school districts in the United States. In those schools are 41,838,871 students, 2,431,008 teachers. In addition there are about 1,400,000 non-teaching school workers such as bus drivers, cafeteria assistants, aides, mechanics and skilled trades people. Private schools house another 5,193,213 students and 354,638 teachers. Public school enrollment increased about 1.8 million since 1987. 2.5 million kids graduated from high school in 1991, another 2.5 million will graduate this year. The cost of education this year will be $5,097 per student, a bundle. (National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education, 1992 quoted in Education Week, 2-5-92)

Add to this total of nearly 44 million people directly affected by the public schools, the myriad of people whose income depends on school work or profits: book publishers (and bookmakers), builders, accountants, restauranteurs, social workers, food surplus workers, middle-class volunteers, clothing salespeople and manufacturers, landscapers and deveolpers (school districts spent $9.6 billion on construction projects in 1990--Education Week, 2-19-92) and finally, about 20 million people in the private school system. (NEA Research, 1990)

It's a lot. Neither the military, the tax system, nor welfare programs are more pervasive than school. And school sucks. Still, all these numbers, this incredible massed quantity of buildings, money, land, people, and publicity, combine to form a huge spectacle of education slammed daily into the public consciousness, a hollow spectacle full of magic and mythology drawn from long remembered experiences, but a phenomenon of limited substance and of real use, absent subversion, to but a tiny minority of citizens.

As the contradictions, the tension of forces at opposition in our society, sharpen, so do the contradictions in the schools. As life outside the halls of ivy grows harsher; schools become harsher themselves. School is more and more a partisan issue. To get a fix on its realities, one must take partisan positions. While it follows that this is a partisan work, I seek here not to detail all of the contradictions of life and society. But it is necessary to quickly contemplate the terrain.

Put simply, there are in this world distinct social classes which have little in common. The rich grow richer and more powerful, the poor grow poorer and more numerous, the middle class shrinks. (See, for example, "U.S. Encourages Rich to Take More", Detroit Free Press, 1-1-91). Social mobility is now a downward trend. 

Government, all forms of it like the courts, cops, troops, legislators, becomes, in former Budget Director David Stockman's words, "...a Trojan Horse for the rich." Wealth understands that it is a particular class with specific, and unique interests. Whether tycoons conspire over minutia or the rich simply act in concert out of a mutual interest makes little difference. They are there, either well organized or simply less disorganized than the mass, and most citizens must contend with them.

The world capitalist economic system is in serious straits. The crisis is sharp in the U.S. but even more so as it extends to weaker economies throughout the world. Capitalist decay creates capitalist desperation and its corollary, war. Overproduction, mass constant unemployment and imprisonment, intensified competition for cheap labor, raw materials, markets, frantic if confused nationalist movements, bank and insurance failures, desperate attempts to drive down the costs of manufacturing, de-industrialization, are all political reminders of conditions before World Wars I and II. But in that era, the U.S. was in ascendancy, a status which now belongs to the Germans and the Japanese. 

The collapse of the Soviet Union leaves an interlude, the eye of the storm, before a price is paid for years of militarism. In any case, because the U.S. is unable to compete politically or economically in the world, or even to take advantage of the dissolution of the Evil Empire, the quality of life for most American people quickly deteriorates and new, or old, ideologies appear to explain the problems of social decay. We must turn briefly to the ideas that hope to explain our era.

There are two enchanted "f" words in North American English usage. One is so charged, diversionary, and prolific, it's not worth printing. The other is fascism . 

Fascism is but a word, though a vaguely pejorative one, for most Americans. Through a decade of misuse as a radical epithet in the 60's, and strained again by the 70 years passed since the rise of the Italian fascisti, the term became hollow. The recent popular film, "JFK", places the word in the mouth of a fanatic, but the controversial context of the movie's thesis, that a coup-de-tat lay behind the murder of John Kennedy, gives new credence to the thought that fascism is more than a word. 

Most surely it is. But even sophisticated citizens see fascism as solely the strut of jack-booted Nazis in black and white films, the result of a peculiar madness that swept the German people. Somehow, just fifty years ago, this madness spread to two of the other most well- educated countries in the world, Japan and Italy. Remarkably, these countries also enjoyed some of the most highly developed working class organizations of their time.

Fascism rose out of conditions much like our own. It's history is worth examination.

Among those most concerned about fascist development are those who were shot first: communists. Two communists, writing in the mid-thirties, outlined the debate about the definition of fascism, its origins and practices, and influenced political scientists for years to come. Both made clear suggestions as to how to fight it.

Georgi Dimitroff, a Bulgarian communist once accused of setting the Reichstag fire, argued in "United Front Against Fascism", that fascism results from a takeover by evil people in a given capitalist ruling class (narrowly defined, these are the people who own the means of production, that is the factories, land, banks, insurance companies, and so on and who, because of their common interests and history of organization, are able to control the government). Dimitroff saw fascism as an aberration, something of a historical fluke, though an extraordinarily dangerous one. He defined fascism as the direct rule of this most cruel sector of the elites, the operation of government untrammeled by niceties like elections and unbiased courts, government solely in the interest of a rogue gang. 

To combat the fascists, Dimitroff proposed that communists form alliances with all people supporting social change and, in particular, social democrats, liberals, and those sane sections of the old ruling class offended by their former brethren. 

In opposition, R. Palme Dutt, a British communist and author of "Fascism and Social Revolution", posed the argument like this:

Fascism is a logical and necessary result of capitalist decay, that is, capitalism MUST result in overproduction, war and all the characteristics described above as benchmarks of our international condition today. 

Fascism, in Dutt's analysis, cannot be successfully examined as a theory. It really has no consistent theoretical foundations. Fascism is opportunist, saying whatever appears to be fashionable at the moment. However, fascist practice is inescapably clear, no matter how muddled its philosophy. Fascism , per Dutt (and in considerable agreement with Dimitroff---and other Marxist theorists like Lewis Corey who we will meet later) has these major elements:

1) Fascism is the unchecked rule of the rich. Wealth issues orders, usually through a puppet. Fascism, even in its early stages requires the direct support of at least some sections of the ruling class. Fascist totalitarianism is based on the principle of absolute authority, usually represented in one man, like Hitler. In this clear sense, fascism attacks democracy at every level.

2) Fascism is a high stage of the corporate state, a state of all-class unity where business, labor and government leaders declare their inseparable interests for the overriding good of the nation. Fascism, therefore, means national chauvinism. Despite its usual populist declarations, fascism strikes out at the organizations and individual lives of working people.

3) Fascism elevates racism and anti-communism to public policy. Whether it is Jews, Gypsies, "guest" workers, Black people, whoever, fascism seeks to scapegoat a section of the population to shift blame from the pecunious for the rot of national capitalism. Racism, the idea that someone is less than human because of their skin color and the institutionalization of that idea in systematic public practice, becomes an excuse for slavery and death inside the master nation and out.

4) Fascism means militarism, war, and propaganda to convince working people to actively attack other working people to maintain or promote national profits.

5) Fascism requires mysticism. A whole culture develops around fascist ideas. Sado-masochistic, violent, worshipping skulls and death, drug-oriented, the ruling class turns to superstition and perverse religions to justify the collapse of society and to divert citizens from rational analysis. In this sense, fascism ultimately retards science and social growth.

6) Fascism usually organizes miscreant, independent militias to violently support the wealthy and their nation and to destroy worker groups like unions which might pursue solutions for the needs of their members by placing class above nation.

Since, Dutt claims, capitalism always deteriorates into fascism, support for any sector of the monied ruling class only buttresses an inevitable fascist movement, whether led by an apparently vile sector of the ruling class or a more gentle one. Dutt suffers no liberals nor social democrats who he sees as especially dangerous in that their calls for partnerships of business, labor and government are merely muffled steps easing the way toward fascist dictatorship. Dutt supplies as examples a rather convincing array of East European social democrats who paved the paths for Nazis. 

To defeat fascism, Dutt asserts the only avenue is to smash capitalism itself, that capitalist allies of any sort will only corrupt and mislead this movement. 

Stalin, mediator of all things red in the thirties, found for Dimitroff, the position that fascism is an aberration and the way to fight it is to find as many allies as possible, especially allies among the ruling classes of the world. This critical decision, marking a shift in Soviet policy that was already in progress, caused, for example, the American Communist Party to stop calling Franklin Roosevelt a "social fascist" and adopt him as an ally. Whether this enabled the Soviet-led victory in WWII, or was in reality a building block in the development of Soviet social-imperialism, has interested a few political scientists for years. 

From a modern vantage, with Dutt's and Dimitroff's contributions as solid supports, it appears both were off target in analysis and strategy. Fascism is no aberration, not the result of nasty people. It is indeed a systematic problem, otherwise it would not reoccur so frequently with such sameness. Why do Dutt's attacks on liberals who paved the way for fascism ring so true? But how can fascism dominate in countries where capitalism is not, for the most part, in decay; today's Saudi Arabia, the early slave society of the U.S., Japan in the twenties? And how can sincere social democrats, who cherish democracy in its purest forms, be complicit in their own destruction?

Actually, fascism and capitalism are inseparable, one requires the other, even if not openly in the parlor. The question of whether or not fascism is in place in a given society, a hair-splitter that occupies much of the left, is really a question of degree. 

American capitalism could not develop without the fascist slave system. In the mid-1800's the American government smashed the diverse civilizations of Native Americans and placed them in camps, precursors of the camps used for Japanese during WWII and the yards surrounded by barbed wire that contained rebellious black workers in the late 1960's. Once one-half million lives were lost defeating the slave system, the U.S depended on the cheap raw materials and virtually unpaid labor of third world workers whose fascist governments relied on the U.S.; most of Latin America, Africa, China, Indo-China, etc. At least in this sense, imperialism is not "The Highest Stage of Capitalism", (Lenin). It's the first stage of capitalism.

Within the U.S. there have always been well-nourished kernels of fascism. Woodrow Wilson immortalized himself by calling the pro-Klan film, "Birth of a Nation", "Writ with lightning" and institutionalizing the segregation of the armed forces.

Work places are never democracies, no Bill of Rights there. The U.S. Code of Military Justice is not the law of a democracy. Schools, by virtue of their clients' age, suspend many rights for most of the people, kids, in them. In political science classes, children learn about the first and fourteenth amendments. In Journalism, and on every foot of school property, they learn those trappings don't apply. Teachers know their own boundaries of free speech are often narrow.

People of color in America long suffered varying degrees of fascism , from Chinese exclusion laws to the Black Codes to Jim Crow to the mass imprisonment of masses of black youth today. The race riots from the Civil War through the 1940's were nothing but police-backed pogroms. 

Some prominent fascists were, and are, U.S. citizens. Henry Ford gave intellectual, and perhaps financial, support to Hitler, as did the Dulles family (conspicuous for their work in American government, especially the intelligence community). Indeed, through the German-American Bund, movements like that behind Michigan radio priest Father Coughlin, and remnants of the Ku Klux Klan, there was considerable pro-fascist sentiment in the U.S. before WWII.

After the war, the U.S. government, possibly feeling the indigenous fascists wouldn't suffice, brought thousands of ex-Nazis, even war criminals, into the country under the protection of American intelligence agencies. Operation Paperclip, described in the scholarly, "Blowback", by Chris Simpson, introduced Nazi scientists to America. They were critical in the development of the space program. Other schemes, frequently operating under the disguise of the Vatican and other religious movements, brought Hungarian fascists, Byelorussians, Russian collaborators, Estonians, Albanian monarchists and Italian Nazis. The CIA recruited the head of Nazi intelligence, Reinhold Gehlen, and kept him on the payroll for years. (See "The UnHoly Trinity" By James Loftus) Internationally, the head of the U.N. for many years, Austrian Kurt Waldheim, was a wanted Nazi war criminal.

Later, as the extreme right-wing government creations of the U.S. in colonies came under attack and lost their hold, the U.S. imported them (Vietnamese, Cubans, Iranians, Salvadorans, Nicaraguans, etc.) as well.

Some of these people melted into their new communities, laid low, and made modest contributions, hardly heard from again. An article in the Washington Post (1-12-92) describes a reporter's return to his rural, hard-working parents' native Hungary where he discovers his father was the Nazi town mayor during WWII, a war criminal wanted for the murder of thousands of Jews. There are many of these characters still in the American woodpile.

Other immigrant fascists, like old men who require observation in public parks, couldn't keep their hands in their pockets. The Cubans formed openly fascist groups like Alpha 66, botched the invasion of their former homeland, murdered diplomat Letelier, probably helped in the assassination of John Kennedy, and even today parade their aging big-bellied military might through the streets of Miami in support of a second crew of bungling assassins who invaded Cuba in 1991 .(Washington Post 1-14-92)

Outside the U.S., there can be no serious question of the linkage of German, Japanese, and Italian fascists with their national capitalists like the Krups, Bayer, and so on. Only what some have called "Soviet Social Fascism" fell on its own accord (to give rise to---what?). But no active fascist government was ever defeated exclusively from within. (See, for example, "Who Financed Hitler?")

Fascist ideology and practice now rises throughout the world. The Duke/Buchanan presidential candidacies, rooted in racism and anti-semitism, give respectability and credence to fascist ideas. Every year, more and more incidents of racist violence are reported to the B'nai B'rith. East European movements like the Georgian White Christian Knights, Poland's Solidarity (a CIA creation which seeks a state religion and reveres a Nazi collaborator of WWII, Pilsudski), the monarcho-Nazi Russian Pamiyat movement, reunified German neo-Nazis subsidized by the Klan, the French "Drive out the imigrants!" Le Pen, all draw heavily on the fascism of their forefathers. Elsewhere, one can always count on the South Africans, where the African Resistance Movement worships the swastika. (Washington Post, 2-3-92)

The Reverend Moon, the quintescent fascist, the man who epitomizes every facet of the definition, who is at once a bizarre millionaire mystic whose original base of support came from a billionaire Japanese war criminal, whose supporters endorse the violent regime of South Korea in the name of God, who claims he is god himself, and who owns two major metropolitan newspapers, one in New York, the other in Washington, creates both a theoretical and practical basis for fascist activity. (Frontline, PBS, 1-14-92)

More subtly, Chrysler's Lee Iacocca meets some of the benchmark criteria for a fascist demagogue. Iacocca slams Japanese products and price supports while he invests Chrysler money in Mitsubishi, shifts production jobs to Mexico, and demands multi-million dollar subsidies, government loans and tax breaks to protect his 20 million dollar salary. The United Auot Workers Union plays the peanut gallery to Iacocca's hysterics, agreeing to blame ALL Japanese for the collapse of the auto industry, identifying the workers' needs with Iacoccas, and failing to raise a finger while more than 1/2 million of their members lost their jobs forever. Here, in the most respectable garb, we have a potentially fascist leader and his organized movement. (see Jane Slaughter, "Japanese Bashing", Guardian 1-29-92 p 10)

Support for the Iraq war is, in some circles, seen as fascist by definition. Surely the media, for example, goose-stepped into the war effort with little or no criticism of the remarkable of degrees of censorship imposed on them. But the thin support, going little beyond the commitment to place a yellow ribbon, the outpouring of joy that wore off in a year of unemployment, is indicative of the tensions faced by those who would like to see a mass-based form of fascism in the U.S.

Cultural phenomena like the negation of art and music embodied by the Sex Pistols (with song titles like "Belsen was a Gas") and much of MTV's celebration of swastikas and violence against women, point to a lingering fascist influence (See "Full of Sound and Fury" by Martha Bayles, Washington Post Book World, 1-26-92) harkening back to the glorification of the Nazi sympathizer "Lucky Lindy" Charles Lindbergh, a favorite of Hitler's imoortalized in popular song. Buildings like the Portman ventures, the RenCen in Detroit and Peachtree Plaza in Atlanta, are architectural attempts to make people feel confused, insignificant, lost, and disempowered in the midst of a very mighty other, a supreme commodity; surely a fascist paradise. 

In a wise little book, "Zen in the Martial Arts", by Joe Hyams, there is a parable about becoming strong. An instructor draws two lines of equal length on a board and challenges the class to make one line shorter. He claims one line as his, the other as theirs. Invariably, the class simply erases part of his line. But, he asks, "How has this made your line stronger? You have but made me weaker. The BEST way to make the other line shorter is to lengthen your own." 

Such was the trap Ronald Reagan fell into when he coerced the U.S.S.R.'s collapse by forcing a dollar-matching spree on war materials. The U.S.S.R. is finished. But so is much of the U.S.A.

Both of our lines are shorter.

A nation which has, simultaneously, no industrial base but the most sophisticated technological and military establishment in the world, which must rely on sheer force to sustain markets, production, cheap labor and raw materials; a country which. threatened by the puny posturing of a marginally developed but armed third world nation, must bomb its enemy back to feudalism, is a country with an environment where fascism could flourish. As we have seen, in some sectors it already does.

The U.S. is absolutely dependant on controlling the productive capacity of every rising potential competitor nation through the American military, the beneficiary of thirty billion dollars a year diverted from social programs over the last decade. This is not post-industrialism, it is the highest form of organized decay. The arsenal of democracy, this fortunate country unscarred by war in 140 years, this huge protected, united island once the behemoth of industrial and farm production, is now merely the arsenal. 

American workers and poor people, absent a longer line of their own, will not benefit by joining the decline, that is by attacking anything but the source of the problem, by failing to build a reliable movement of their own.

Capitalism and fascism , twins perhaps, the iron fist necessary to fill the velvet glove. But the fact remains that struggles within capitalism also spawned, especially during times of aggressive mass efforts for change like the Reconstruction period or the 1960's, some of the most democratic stages in human evolution. Democratic activity, movements within the unions like the Teamsters for a Democratic Union or the Miners for Democracy, movements around the environment like Greenpeace, multi-racial demonstrations against the Klan like the Martin Luther King Day Action in Denver in 1992, all combine to demonstrate that there is plenty of leeway to struggle in this country and on this planet. What is at question is how that can be done and won. 

Hence, whether or not fascism exists, or is about to exist in the U.S. (like life in East St. Louis, the east side of Detroit, Anacostia in Washington D.C., Liberty City in Miami, Newark) is not the point. North American fascism will not necessarily closely mimic Italian or German fascism. H. Ross Perrot has potential for uniqueness. What evolves here is that the conditions which meet any reasonable working definition of fascism grow rapidly. Fascism in other countries came forward as a mass movement, involving the majority of citizens. Surely, today, such a debacle does not obtain in the United States. Many people, most, did not vote for David Duke. Yet, there are elements of fascism around us and the decision of which side to take, as the taking of sides becomes more and more obvious, is open to most Americans, a disturbing situation at the least.

School workers see these political developments first hand. Urban schools are more segregated every day (Washington Post, 1-10-92). Suburban schools, unmentioned in the article, never were anything else. Rich schools get exponentially better, working class schools geometrically worse. What is at risk now is a more than a matter of whether citizens can view schools as a source of hope, it is question of survival. Joblessness, homelessness, illness, for poor people in a society with no effective safety nets left, is the end of history.

Therefore, professional school work, whatever it may be, teaching, counselling, work as an aide, managing, driving a bus, cleaning, maintaining, cooking; means taking sides, being a partisan or a collaborator. 

This is not an abstraction of the niceties of American democracy born out of an education system designed to serve all citizens. The issue is power and its polarities, whose future will be touched and how? To meet the organized energy of wealth, power must be created from the mobilized egalitarian democratic aspirations of the majority of citizens and their united ability to make gains in their own collective interests. Education at every level is a partisan affair. In partisan matters, all but power is illusion.

The "Savage Inequalities", the gross disparities of rich and poor schools Jonathan Kozol profoundly details in his book are the conditions of a society stretched by most severe pressures. Yet his call for tax reform to equalize schooling will, at best, likely translate into a tax increase aimed directly at working people to subsidize better schools--in rich neighborhoods. Calls to elites to fix the schools are calls to addicts to guard the crack. The goal of equality in schools and society goes far reasoning with enemies and directly to the matter of mass, organized resistance led, probably, by the people who are in schools most of the time, school workers and students, backed by working class parents and activists. That is the essence of power today.

Not long ago, after the Steelworkers Union made millions of dollars of concessions to U.S. Steel, the company turned about and invested its capital in a liquor company. When asked about his dubious commitment to the workforce and American production, the company president responded, "I'm not in business to make steel. I'm in business to make money". People invested in bad schools are not likely convinced of the need for equal school funding.

Never-the-less, blame for the brewing U.S. economic collapse frequently focuses on the schools: "We'd be in better economic shape if our schools produced smarter kids." This is one of the lone points of agreement for every candidate in the '92 Presidential race. 

In fact, we'd be in better shape in a society where things were shared more equitably. The U.S. today faces a depression more because of our outdated machinery, the third world debt, successful nationalist movements, massive military investments, bad management, outright corruption, and over-production. In sum, failures common to capitalism, not lousy schools, caused this crisis. 

But even teacher advocacy groups like the unions accept the premise that American capitalism rises and falls in the schools, and that the school workers task is tantamount to saving America. Educators become accomplices in a most unbalanced partnership.

The ruling class in this society must prepare, and discipline, the civilian population for a period of economic recession and the possibility of war. If there is to be war, it must be foreshadowed by a period of massive reindustrialization to recreate the basic war industries and political indoctrination to forge a false sense of national unity. In each case, reindustrialization and indoctrination, poor and working class people will be required to make the greatest sacrifices. Therefore school takes on major importance. A good war requires trained people and popular support.

Critical as they are, schools are actually to the economic and political system as a weathervane is to the wind; always responding, occasionally predicting, the weather. Because the political and economic winds often blow in different directions simultaneously, the school weathervane appears shifty, even confused. But in general the weathervane knows which way the wind is blowing. The gap between rich and poor grows first in society and then in the schools. First the Japanese outproduce American capitalists. Then American kids learn to hate the Japanese.

Schools are not sources of food, clothing, warmth, shelter, good health, raw materials, or finished trinkets. Their products, which we will discuss, are less tangible, though not less important. Yet schools must rely heavily on the other sections of society for support. Lets examine the underpinning of school.

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