Sunday, March 09, 2008

Are we meeting the needs of citizens or capital?

Gregory Fitch, Executive Director of the Alabama Commission on Higher Education, the "statewide 12-member lay board ... responsible for the overall statewide planning and coordination of higher education in Alabama, the administration of various student aid programs, and the performance of designated regulatory functions", is pictured to the left. His writing appears in the B'ham News with Initiative involving industry, education would benefit us all. I'll submit I like much of what he's suggesting and yet I do hope there's more to the mix than just getting labor ready for use by capital. I'll return to that theme later.

I'll also offer up that ACHE's website has several bugs, seems rather clunky, etc. I'm also thinking ACHE ought to be replaced with something like a Board of Regents like Georgia uses. Decision and policy making is all the more difficult given Alabama's organizational structures. We also ought to give PK-12 to the Alabama Board of Education and take the JuCos away but that's another post for another day.

My concern with what Dr. Finch is suggesting is that he seems to almost exclusively focus on how our students will be plugged in to serve the needs of industry in a global economy. Yes, earning a living is critical. No, I'm not against economic development. But there's way more to "education" that this vision. I want to share just a few quotes ....

Why should society feel responsible only for the education of children, and not for the education of all adults of every age? ~ Erich Fromm

It has always seemed strange to me that in our endless discussions about education so little stress is laid on the pleasure of becoming an educated person, the enormous interest it adds to life. To be able to be caught up into the world of thought -- that is to be educated. ~ Edith Hamilton

Education, therefore, is a process of living and not a preparation for future living. ~ John Dewey
The above quotes represent just a few of my ideas. I weep and gnash my teeth over much in today's dominant approach toward education. A post fussing at Ted Kennedy over his limited vision and just wrong thinking on education is similar to what I'm laying into Dr. Finch for ... plus there are links to other posts that clarify where I stand on the goals of educators. Perhaps Dr. Finch isn't thinking as narrow as I fear. He only had so much space I'm sure in the B'ham News. And in Alabama his audience might not respond to a more Progressive or dare I say liberal view on education. Whatever the case, my concern is that when education leaders fail to even gratuitously reference the more lofty vision for education then we are surely doomed. John Gunn

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