News Release

Education Issues as School Year Begins

WASHINGTON — With the start of the school year, Education Secretary Rod Paige is speaking today at the National Press Club. The following analysts are available for interviews:

JOHN TAYLOR GATTO
Former New York State Teacher of the Year and author of the recently released book The Underground History of American Education, Gatto said today: “Education used to be about instilling people with good ethics. It then incorporated the notion of teaching people how to be good citizens and then having people achieve their own personal best. All these have merit, but the education system is now being geared to making people into human resources for the benefit of corporations and government — into a workforce. We are schooling people into having no inner life; instead, we are fashioning children into raw material for the commercial and government elite.” Gatto, a participant in a forum in the current issue of Harper’s Magazine, added: “In order to make management most efficient, the working body is made to be childish because childish people are not independent. But if our schools started producing people capable of independent thought, that would undermine this economy. Contrary to popular belief, the fastest growing jobs require little skills from people. We’re producing people who would accept fast-food jobs…. There are huge amounts of free talent available that the schools don’t access, like retired people.”
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EDWARD KEALY
Executive director of the Committee for Education Funding, Kealy said today: “The administration is putting forward the notion of ‘Leaving No Child Behind,’ but the fiscal year starts Oct. 1 and no appropriations have been made for education. We don’t see the resources for the results that the president and Secretary Paige have said they seek.”
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EMILY HEATH
Senior program director with the Center for Commercial-Free Public Education, Heath said today: “Students are supposed to be in school to learn — particularly critical thinking skills. But companies are seeking to commercialize the schools, teaching them instead to be obedient consumers — to buy, buy, buy. Companies are using taxpayer funds and the fact that students are a captive audience. Commercialism enters the schools in several ways. Channel One, the TV news and advertising program broadcast into schools, is the largest example of direct advertising. Channel One forces students to watch two minutes of TV commercials every school day — students are not even allowed to read during the commercials. It now reaches about 40 percent of middle and high schools. Commercialism also gets into schools through exclusive beverage contracts — in spite of claims earlier this year from Coca-Cola that they would cut down on promoting soda to kids, we’ve seen no evidence of that. You also have banners in schools with corporate logos and other ‘freebies’ that are clearly a form of advertising. Another way that commercialism gets into classrooms is by disguising public relations material to look like classroom activities and lesson plans. Exxon and Shell have put together science curriculum material to serve their purposes. There were even ads in textbooks a few years ago, but a California state law was passed banning that.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167