The author here laments the persistent derogation of public worker prestige and autonomy, largely at the hands of neoliberal conservatives:
It is a two stage process. Firstly, Americans must be convinced that government is inherently wasteful and inefficient. Secondly, the public sector must be demonized by asserting public sector employees are overpaid because of demands by corrupt unions. They have been extremely effective in having that concept metastasized in much of the American psyche.
The ideal for those who wish to abolish the public sector would be the privatization of all public and social services, including education. The private sector, or the interests of capital, exploit the public sector to improve their capture of profits and more capital. They rely on the State to build the roads, provide protective services, education, put out fires, and provide a social safety net for those who fall completely through the cracks. Or, the safety net compensates for a diminished living wage, from which capital benefits, because they can pay their employees less if the State will provide them supplemental Medicaid and food stamps. As this occurs, private capital seeks to pay less and less into this system, keep more for themselves.
Another way that this is being done applies to education: technocrats seek to break the art and craft of teaching up into discrete bits. A craft of teaching scares the hell out of bean counters because they can’t measure it. Craft or trade does not comply with standards. It cannot be counted. If teaching is broken up into a discrete package of measurable skills, then some of those skills can be taken away from a professional educator, left in the electronic “hands” of an electronic device or software program (thus, #edtech). This thereby diminishes the role of an educator and breeds economic efficiencies. Train them less, pay them less, and create hardware and software to mediate the role of a teacher. Or, attenuate it, that’s more likely.
This is part of a plan or ideology which will reduce the professional status and autonomy of educators, making them more unskilled workers rather than highly skilled who require certain protections, who are in control of their complicated labor earned through extensive training and experience. Reduce teaching to certain concrete tasks and responsibilities, create a computer mediated system to make up for the rest, crank them out in five weeks’ worth of training at tremendous profit, burn them out for a year or two with a modest stipend, and then swim in the piles of money you’ll make as a result.
How does that sound?