Since Public Education is Being Privatized Whether I Like it or Not….

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It’s happening all over the country – public education is getting privatized. There is no use fighting it anymore, I guess. Teachers are nearly voiceless, their unions are almost powerless, and everyone from government to big industry thinks this is the way to go. Kids behave like widgets, don’t you know. They will robotically perform on big money-backed tests, and meet and exceed state expectations without fail, showing perfect growth curves every single time. It’s going to be great.

As I pondered this now-for-profit turn in education while out walking, I happened to spot the infamous green straw on the ground. Everyone knows where it came from – no other company has cornered the market on green straws like this one has. An idea struck me since teachers are going to be “fined” in the salary department for their students not performing as expected; why not fine the big money corporations for their consumers also failing to meet expectations? I mean clearly the consumer of this most likely caffeinated beverage was not performing as expected. This consumer was expected to happily consume the beverage, and when finished throw the straw in the trash. He or she instead carelessly threw his or her straw on the ground. What if the company behind the green straw was fined thousands of dollars for the carelessness of its consumers? This sounds only fair to me, a teacher, who more often than not can’t get her “consumers” to perform perfectly on state- and government-mandated tests.

Let’s go a few steps further. Let’s start fining real estate agents when the houses they are showing do not pass inspection when an unforeseen mold problem appears, or the foundation cracks. Let’s fine doctors when their patients do not take the medicine they are supposed to be taking and they don’t heal. How about mechanics when they don’t get our cars fixed properly the first time we bring it in? What about clothing retailers when our clothes don’t fit? (Wait- never mind; we are already suing fast food places for making us fat.)

How about fining the fitness studios when we stop showing up to exercise? I am not getting any thinner, so it must be their fault. What about fining libraries when people fail to read the book they checked out? How about fining movie theaters when we don’t enjoy a movie? What about fining an amusement park when we didn’t have a good time? How about fining the musicians because we don’t like their music?

We could fine the garbage collectors because it was kind of stinky when their trucks drove by. We could fine pet stores and animal shelters every time our pets threw up on our carpets. How about fining cities because we didn’t have fun at their events? How about fining newspaper companies when we fail to open up the newspaper and read it?

If you are starting to figure out that the human (or animal) end of the consumer chain is where things break down, good for you. I only wish governments could figure this one out when it comes to the very real, very human nature of education. It never has been, nor will it ever be, a fail-safe enterprise where kids perform consistently. There are far too many factors to list that make students, and, ultimately, people, the wildly unpredictable, flesh-and-blood free-will creatures that they are. And all too often they throw their straws on the ground.

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