Sunday, September 19, 2010

Education should not be for sale

For a long time, I have championed the concept of a worldwide resource-based system to replace the world’s money-based economic system.

One such concept is The Venus Project, created by Jacques Fresco in 1975. It’s an organization that proposes a plan of action that works towards a peaceful and sustainable global civilization. It outlines an alternative to strive toward where human rights are a way of life. It’s a moneyless system in which all goods and services are available without debt or servitude. All material and human resources become the common heritage of all inhabitants, not just a select few. The premise upon which this system is based is that the Earth is an abundant and plentiful resource, and that our practice of monetarily rationing resources is counterproductive to our survival.

Some will say that what is being proposed is communism or socialism; but it’s not, since both are money-based systems employed for the control and rationing of resources. The project’s plan is one that brings us out of the horrifying aspects of poverty and war. It’s one that eliminates politics, which, despite the rhetoric, at the end of the day is controlled by money, and where wealthy nations control limited resources.

So, whenever a money-based issue comes up, which never involves the simple exchange of money but always the profit that can be derived from such an exchange, I ask myself the question: Could this be resolved under a resource-based system of economics? So far, the answer has been an unequivocal yes on every issue.

Currently, the issue du jour is education. Over the last few days, I have read reviews based on the documentary film, “Waiting for ‘Superman,’” by Davis Guggenheim, but particularly “Steal This Movie, Too,” by Tom Friedman, and the education based articles’ “Why We’re Failing Our Schools,” by Joe Klein, and “The Case Against Summer Vacation,” by David Von Drehle. In each case, money is the central obstacle.

The prevailing question: Are we putting kids and their education first? We are not. We are putting money and profit first -- essentially putting our future and progress up for sale.

The issues:

We are underpaying our teachers, compensating them instead by giving them union perquisites, and not holding our teachers accountable. The proposed system would eliminate a need for unionization. Under a resource-based system, there would still be a need for accountability. However, if we still have a need for teachers to teach (advances in computerized technologies may replace teachers), a teacher would be teaching because of their passion for teaching and not for pay.

We have a need to extend the school year, and to offer summer and after school education programs. The restrictions here are all money-based. All levels of education would be available all year.

The problem of latchkey kids would be significantly reduced. Arranging times to be home with children could be easily managed.

It would end the drive for charter schools in which individual entrepreneurs are chartered by states to create their own schools, and the drive to end public education through some sort of other privatization scheme would be off the table.

Such programs as Obama’s “Race to the Top” and Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” programs would also be off the table, since there would be freedom for children and every adult to pursue an education. All education, including college and beyond would not be limited by money, and children would be motivated to learn.

This plan is “Futuristic,” it is a plan for the future, it cannot happen overnight, but not impossible or utopian. To accomplish this goal, our world must move progressively over time to eliminate the need for money, and, actively and passionately, work to achieve greater knowledge. In the mean time, there is a need to take profit out of education. It should not be for sale.