Susan Ohanian's masterful summation in your August issue of what is really going on today in public education serves as a powerful rebuttal to the absurd charges made by business leaders.
The outrageousness begins with the blatant accountability double standard. It seems that in corporate America nothing succeeds like failure. Those at or near the top walk away with more money in one year of driving a corporation into the ground than 100 teachers make in a lifetime of demonstrated success with their students.
So what is the risk for them? Maybe their egos get bruised a bit when they are asked to resign. But in the short time they're at the help calling the shots, they take home perks and cash beyond the wildest imagination of most teachers.
The no-longer-so-hidden agenda, of course, is to create a two-tier society, reminiscent of Latin America. By scapegoating and eventually destroying public education, the goal becomes easier to achieve. The evidence abounds. The middle class is becoming an anachronism, as both parents work full time and still can't support their familes. Three-quarters of personal bankruptcies are the result of medical bills that individuals can't pay because they don't have health insurance. Unions are being emasculated by court decision and hostile lawmakers. And the hits just keep on coming.
When the American people finally wake up to what is happening, it will be too late. It's a frightening scenario.
Los Angeles Unifified School District,
Los Angeles, Calif.
That last part is on the same theme as this editorial in The Nation about Delphi Corporation seeking chapter 11 status:
posted November 9, 2005 (November 28, 2005 issue)
Delphi's move could have been predicted from its recent hire of Steve Miller as CEO. He has made a long career, going back to the Chrysler bailout of a generation ago, of using government handouts and corporate welfare in the form of bankruptcy to restructure firms while looting workers' assets. Just before he joined Delphi, Miller was CEO of Bethlehem Steel and a board member at United Airlines (UAL). Before selling off Bethlehem he eliminated health insurance for 95,000 retirees and offloaded the firm's underfunded pension obligations to the government's Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. And he offloaded UAL's even larger underfunded pension to the PBGC, itself now underfunded. At the time, Forbes announced that this spectacular disappearance of worker savings foretold "the end of pensions"--not just for UAL but the country. It has since been imitated by Delta and Northwest. Miller took the job at Delphi because he thought it offered a "pivotal position to impact the restructuring of America's auto industry," meaning more of the same.
Miller's plan for Delphi is cynical and wildly greedy. The bankruptcy is targeted only at Delphi's 51,000 US-based workers, less than a third of its worldwide labor force. It is well financed, with Delphi holding $1.6 billion in cash and a new credit line for as much as $4.5 billion in low-interest debt from Citigroup Global Markets Inc. and JP Morgan Chase. Nothing in US bankruptcy law--recently tightened for individuals but not for corporations--says a company actually has to be broke to enjoy its protections. And Delphi is not broke; of its forty-five US plants, only eleven are in a separate holding group of financially troubled enterprises.
As the price of not canceling the workers' contract and liquidating their pension, Miller is demanding a drop in average wages from $27 to $10 an hour, concessions that would total more than $2 billion a year. This is about 25 percent more than Delphi's current losses, counting the money-losing plants, and will be pure profit once those are eliminated...
...Whatever wage cuts Miller gets at Delphi will be a marker in the full Big Three contract negotiations in 2007, when current contracts expire...
And whatever the out come it scares me as much as NCLB does.