Classrooms as profit centers

Rights and Privileges

More recent classroom visitors than I can confirm—whether the time-honored teachings about different models for historic civilizations or market-based—are still being presented to today’s students.

Some recent anthropology books have made the argument that the natural option for primates turns out to be trade-based. We two-legged types have inherited the genes and wiring for trade and barter from the not-quite-two-legged chimpanzees and orangutans, who practice it skillfully (even though they have no Fair Trade Commissions).

This is the basis of a whole new research field known as economic anthropology.

It’s generally considered that the contemporary U.S. civilization is predominantly market-based, a condition generally applauded on the R side of the hall (a little French Revolution governance lingo, there) and deplored on the L side, and it’s similarly generally considered that some of the major enthusiasts for expanded governance are the least market-solution–oriented.

That’s why it typically comes as a bit of a shock when folks in public education turn out to be just as what’s-in-it-for-me as the rest of us. One example is the famous Albert Shanker one-liner.

While president of the United Federation of Teachers, a NYC K-12 union, Shanker made this comment about his leadership goals: “When schoolchildren start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of schoolchildren.”

Shanker’s comments were made during the early ‘70s, according to the “Shanker Blog” (an online page which devotes considerable effort to a semi-denial of the widely-referenced—you can guess why—quote sometimes dated to 1985).

Shanker’s quote is widely referenced because education is primus inter pares on a list of those institutions which declare themselves to be above “mere profit” and quite superior to the surrounding society of crass materialists. That background explains why a reemergence of the Shanker mindset has been accorded little coverage by the mainstream media (MSM): it doesn’t fit the desired image template.

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