[Paleopsych] H-N: Mark Daims reviews Education as Enforcement

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Sat Oct 29 01:27:31 UTC 2005

Mark Daims reviews Education as Enforcement:  The Militarization and 
Corporatization of Schools edited by Kenneth J. Saltman and David A. Gabbard
[Thanks to Laird for this.]

Book Review

Education as Enforcement: The Militarization and Corporatization of Schools
edited by Kenneth J. Saltman and David A. Gabbard
RoutledgeFalmer 2003.

Reviewed by Mark Daims, DVM, Hudson, New York, USA.

Education as Enforcement
incorporates 21 compelling essays (including the foreword and
introduction) on the subtext of the process of education in
America. Whether or not a reader agrees with any particular
essayist, each writer defends children passionately and should be
heard. Henry Giroux's foreword forcefully attacks the current
administration's tactics concerning education and the greater
society. Alluding to a "tyranny of emergency" and an inauthentic
use of the country's fear of terrorism, Giroux feels the President
is changing the nature of our society -- community is constructed
"through shared fears rather than shared responsibilities." Giroux
wants educators to act collectively to instill democratic and
social values in children and move back towards a society of shared

The greatest struggle Americans face is not terrorism, but a
struggle on behalf of justice, freedom, and democracy for all the
citizens of the globe, especially youth.

The introduction by Kenneth Saltman's that follows explores the
messages given to the nation's children. He examines the nation's
"walk" not its "talk" and finds all the discussion about conflict
resolution denied by the nation's military responses and violent
actions. He notes that on the pages following a Time's article on
Columbine, there was a two page advertisement by the Internet
search engine Alta Vista that pictured a Lockheed martin F-16
fighter. The search words that found the fighter were "Who will
guide my sleigh tonight." Examining movies and other media, the
essayist finds that militarism is us. Even our economic structure,
including free-trade agreements, undermines the lives of children.
With globalization, Coca Cola has infiltrated every niche in the
globe, yet inexpensive medicines and nutritious foods are
unavailable to many, many children.

Forty seven million children in the richest twenty-nine nations in
the world are living below the poverty line. Child poverty in the
wealthiest nations has worsened as national incomes have risen over
the past half century.

The first essay, "The Function of Schools: Subtler and Cruder
Methods of Control" by Noam Chomsky, begins the argument that
education is enforcement, enforcement of the ideas and ethics of
the dominant culture and also mirrors John Taylor Gatto's (former
New York state teacher of the year) assertion that "school trains
children to obey reflexively." Chomsky feels that it is the
well-behaved, obedient students that do well and this means that
our educational system selects for the obedient and conforming. The
educational system constantly pressures students and even faculty
towards conformity:

In the fourth grade you're a "behavior problem." In college you may
be "irresponsible" or "erratic" or "not the right kind of student."
If you make it to the faculty, you'll fail in what's sometimes
called "collegiality."

The essays that follow range from range from critiques of the "No
Child left Behind" policy to a revealing dialogue between the
author and several inner city kids. "Rivers of Fire: BPAmoco's
iMPACT on Education" (Kenneth Saltman and Ruth Goodman) examines
corporate interest in education BPAmoco's children's video "Rivers
of Fire" explores volcanoes while delivering a subtle corporate
message that nature is a entity to be managed and used (not
preserved). After presenting an overview of BPAmoco's and
Monsanto's human rights violations overseas, the authors point out
that while BPAmoco was distributing "Rivers of Fire" to children it
was creating real rivers of fire in Michigan where one city was
trying to force the company to stop leaking petroleum products into
the city's sewers. A quotation from Mark Evans, a senior vice
president of Scholastic Inc., might serve to partially sum up the

More and more companies see education marketing as the most
compelling, memorable, and cost-effective way to build share of
mind and market into the 21st century Gillette is currently
sponsoring a multi-media in-school program designed to introduce
teenagers to safety razors -- building brand and product loyalties
through classroom-centered, peer-powered lifestyle patterning.

The next essay, "Education IS Enforcement," by David Gabbard is
convincing in its hypothesis that the function of school is to mold
children to fit the goals of the government which in America's case
is the market. The daily process and form of education serve to
train workers:

Insofar as the majority of future workers will likely find little
intrinsic rewards in the jobs they will come to perform in the
workplace, the relative meaninglessness of school provides a
perfect "boot camp" for teaching them to accept alienation as an
inevitable part of life.

Compulsory education and standardized tests sort children into the
roles that will be of the most benefit to the market economy.
Gabbard compares the military's use of IQ tests to track soldiers
into their best roles with the role of standardized testing.

In military terms, then, compulsory school assigns persons their
rank relative to their future use-value as human resources.

Many of the essays that follow assert that the "No Child Left
Behind" program tracks minority children into low paying jobs.
Underfunded schools struggling to provide mandated requirements can
only provide a emaciated education which in turn funnels any
graduates into meaningless work or jail. The minimum standards for
an education are those that would only qualify a person for a low
paying job. Schools in trouble are punished while those that
succeed are rewarded. This merely reinforces current inequities.
"Freedom for Some, Discipline for "Others," by Enora Brown compares
two Chicago schools: Groundview Technical High School attended
mostly by non-white working-class students and Mountainview
Township High School attended by mostly white, professional-class
students. The names of the schools are painfully apt. JROTC
programs are spreading - another essay details - spreading
disproportionately among certain types of schools. Mountainview has
a wing devoted entirely to the fine arts; Groundview a wing devoted

Mountainview resembles a small liberal art college with over three
hundred multilevel, discipline-based academic courses...
Groundview's curricula resembles the industrial education model
designed for ex-slaves, which prepares poor African-American youth
to take on the "simpler trades."

Groundview's students must always wear their student IDs and their
class schedules. Brown also opposes the corporatization or
privatization of schools. "In fact, privatization redirects public
funds for private accumulation."

All the essays have something valuable to say but Pepi Leistyna's
"Facing Oppression: Youth Voices from the Front" presents the
author's dialogue with seven troubled inner city kids; only one is
white with the rest being fully or partly African-American, Puerto
Rican or Cape Verdean. In this essay the children speak many of the
arguments made by the adult essayists seeking to positively affect
their lives.

Pepi: Are the drugs and booze in school? (There is an enthusiastic
group response, "Oh Yeah! "Everywhere")

Carlos: It's a joke cause that ain't no high school. The whole time
I was there I got one book.

Olavo: They dictate all the rules in the high school man.

Stevie: It is a prison.

Olavo: If you do something in the cafeteria, like you supposed to
sit four on the table, and you sit five on the table, they'll grab
you and give you three days suspension.

(Later in the discussion about the school)

Roland: If you black, the attitude is, "You Dumb."

Carlos: If you come from a bad neighborhood they make sure you
never make it.

Stevie: They think that you are a trouble maker.

Dion: Automatically, Automatically!

(Later at the end of the discussion)

Pepi: Most all of you have kids now, what are you going to tell
your kids? What's your advice to any kid?

Stevie: I wanna tell them to stay in school man, no matter how bad
it is, juss do it, juss stay in school!

Dion: Get through yo!

The essays are:

  "The Function of Schools: Subtler and Cruder Methods of Control,"
Noam Chomsky

"Rivers of Fire: BPAmoco's iMPACT on Education" Kenneth Saltman and
Ruth Goodman

"Education IS Enforcement," David Gabbard

"Cracking Down: Chicago School Policy and the Regulation of Black
and Latino Youth" Pauline Lipman

"Facing Oppression: Youth Voices from the Front" Pepi Leistyna

"Freedom for Some, Discipline for "Others," Enora Brown

"Forceful Hegemony" Don Jacobs

"The Proliferation of JROTC: Educational Reform or Militarization"
Marvin Berlowitz and Nathan Long

"Education for War in Israel: Preparing Children to Accept War as a
Natural Factor of Life" Haggith Gor

"Post-Columbine Reflections on Youth Violence as a (Trans)National
Movement" Julie Weber

"Imprisoning Minds: The Violence of Neoliberal Education or "I Am
Not For sale"" Sheila Macrine

"Taking Command: The Pathology of Identity and Agency in Predatory
Culture" Ron Scapp

"Commentary on the Rhetoric of Reform: A twenty Year Retrospective"
Sandra Jackson"

"Controlling Images: The Power of High Stakes Testing" Kevin Vinson
and E. Wayne Ross

"Dick Lit: Corporatism, Militarism, and the Detective Novel" Robin

"Virtuous War: Simulation and the Militarism of Play" Eugene

"We Were Soldiers: The Rewriting of memory and the Corporate Order"
William Reynolds and David Gabbard

"The Politics of Compulsory Patriotism: On the Educational meaning
of September 11" Michael Apple

"Critical Revolutionary Pedagogy at Ground Zero" Peter Mclaren and
Ramin Farahmandpur

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