badges, schools & lifestyle inflation

kelley colleen kelley_colleen at
Mon Aug 2 08:29:50 PDT 1999

real quick, to k. mickey. in my view, privitization of schools or anything resembling it will quickly lead to the McDonaldization of Schooling. the process is already clear in the textbook industry under the guise of standardized curriculum [which is really about the deprofessionalization of teacher and resisting pay raises, indeed reducing pay]. it is evident in the increasing reliance on pre-digested curriculum materials, videos, just plain crap that teachers rely on. and, as i argue below, i don't think it will "equalize" funding be/c well-to-do parents simply won't stand for it. they will seek to sort their children out into the few under any circumstances.

the ideal here, on USers own standards, is equality of opportunity. while i'd value something much better and more substantive than that, voucher systems don't even achieve equality of opportunity. i want to hold this society that at least the standard of equality of oppotunity. what voucher systems value is individualism and freedom conceived of as freedom of choice. bah humbug. i'm not happy about what kinds of choices i have in laundry detergents let alone schools!!!

so, the govt' gives me foodstamps and supplements them with coupons to boot.

i get to buy fresh bread instead of day old. name brands instead of generic. but it's still all crap!

excuse my pricklyness on the topic. i used to teach this debate with _savage inequalities_ (which mike mentioned) and with chubb and moe. bleh bleh bleh. as moved as students were by _savage inequalities_ for it revealed a world they never even knew, let alone imagined existed, they still rejected equalization or even vouchers on the grounds that "they *deserved* better schooling coz their parents worked hard to provide them that, so there. and we feel bad an' all but it's just not "natural" to have everything equal and it won't work. it goes against human nature"

ferpetesake. i'd rather have a debate with ken!

i is in a mood tooooday!!!! growwwwwl. so don't take it personally.

Chris writes

>So the intense comparison of one's own ability as a seller of labour power
>with that of other people is more blurred. The children of professional who
>has sent them to college will do service jobs to pay off a student loan,
>alongside immigrants. Children from virtually all strata may drop into the
>under class through drugs and unemployment.

i think it's shifting and reforming itself here. it's blurred but i'm not certain they're going away. there are those who say that the pursuit of badges intensifies with a loss of traditional forms of social authority: there is an even greater need to wear obvious badges of ability as lifestyle or consumption. whereas you may have been able to count on the moniker Dr. to distinguish you or even 'druggist' at the local drug store, today these are said to have no meaning in the name of egalitarianism. not a bad thing; i'm not saying that. but the result is that we still have this process of internalization of class conflict and the pursuit of badges of ability, yet there seems to be no standard set, socially agreed on standard against which to measure oneself. the shifts are shifting and increasingly defined by mass mediated, advertising supported, consumption driving institutions.

the following, though, is an example that doesn't rely on castigating the media but is, i think, indicative of the process: there is now a distinction made between those who send their children to private school v. those who rely on public schools. this surely wasn't a concern two decades ago, though people did worry about being in the right neighborhood and attending the right school. [in the US school funding is often based on property taxes; if you live in wealthier neighborhood there are more tax monies and so better schools].

as concern with education b/c a general cultural value, the standards of what constitutes "good" education [seperating the few from the many] shift.

so, when i had students read about inequities in school funding it was a eye opening experience for them since none of them knew such worlds existed.

they were asked to write position papers taking a stand on the debate over how to resolve these inequities: school vouchers or equalize funding by redistributing at the state, rather than local, level. while they all thought inequities were terrible, unfair, and surely antithetical to the ideal of equal opportunity, they rejected any measures that might equalize school funding. why? they argued that no way on earth would their parents rely on taxes alone. they were happy, they said, to send monies to poor districts. but their parents, they said, would want advantages b/c they'd worked hard and deserved it so their parents would simply supplement funding in various ways to make sure that their schools had two olympic sized pool, a planetarium, a sm. television station, in short the best of everything and more.

i think this is indicative of the process, whether it's about college degrees, prestige of the uni, about what kind of s.u.v you drive, house you live in, where you shop, and so forth. what's important about HIC, is that it isn't just 'bad' values, american consumerism and materialism, but there's a locus that drives allegiance to those values and it's found in the social condition of work, among other things of course.

lifestyle inflation perhaps?

bah humbug today, i fear.

too hot to do much but stay inside! and my isp is on the fritz again!


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