Opinion » Bill Cope


Part 1: Softening up the mark


If you read in last week's column my predictions for 2015, I trust you understood they were not serious, though I have to wonder sometimes at the modern American's capacity to tell the difference between satire and reporting. However, I have faith that my readership--whatever that amounts to--will always know when I'm joking around, as distinct from when I'm not joking around. It's likely I lost any and everyone who couldn't spot that distinction years ago.

So it's probably unnecessary for me to say that the predictions I'm making in this two-part column are serious. What's more, there are many people all over America making the same predictions, sounding the same warnings. You've also heard me present these same scenarios before, repeatedly, and I don't regret having spent so much effort on this one subject, as they all have to do with one of those matters I consider most fundamental to who we are as a free people, as well as one of the most imperiled. The subject is the institution of public education, and the peril is the demolition of that institution—the parts to be awarded to the very people who arranged for the demolition.

First of all, we have to understand this dismantling didn't start just eight years ago with the intrusion of outgoing Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna into what was already a struggling system, made so by the dismal treatment it has received from Republican state officials for at least two decades. Nor will it end if Idahoans ever mature civically and intellectually enough to quit electing frauds like Luna and his successor to that office simply because they advertise themselves as Republicans first.

No, Luna was little more than a convenient tool, designed and set upon Idaho to shift as many public education resources into private hands as possible. He may have failed with the "Students Come First" scheme but on other fronts—the epidemic of charter schools being one, along with the welcoming of voracious online education predators into Idaho's education environment—he succeeded, largely because few Idahoans put those seemingly harmless territory disputes into proper context with the larger conquest.

This massive and accelerating transfer of both public-school children and public-school funds is happening nationwide. And it was conceived at least four decades ago, fueled by the same dogmatic crusade of self-justifying greed that has resulted in the nation's prisons, military logistics, infrastructure maintenance and so much more being shuffled like marked cards into the hands of investors whose primary concern has never been to provide the services America needs to survive and to thrive, but how to maximize their profits for the ultimate benefit of a few Americans.

There's not enough room in this entire publication, let alone my column here, two-part or 20-part, to go into the details of how this rapacious looting of the nation's public treasury, hiding under the shroud of free market ideology, has led to such scandalous failure that if it continues we are destined for third world-level corruption and collapse. We know where the dots are—e.g., post-Reagan Republican doctrine, middle class stagnation, the burdensome debt being accrued by students, the local debacles of private prisons and broadband chicanery, staggering wealth being siphoned out of the general economy into the off-shore tax havens of the already-filthy rich—but even if there were the space to connect those dots, the folks who need to understand those connections most urgently wouldn't be in the audience anyway. It's too easy to shrug off what I and many others are saying as class warfare, even if they manage to tear themselves away from their football and consumer frenzy long enough to pay attention.

I'm hoping predictions are harder to ignore, especially if they come true. And my guess is, we will know relatively soon whether these few predictions I have gathered (in Part Two) will have been set in motion by, say, approximately mid-way through the legislative session.

Before going any further, I must acknowledge The Nation magazine for providing me with much more of what I already knew, as reflected in a series of five columns I called "Crumbling Foundations" (Boise Weekly, Feb. 16, 2011; Feb. 23, 2011; April 9, 2014; April 16, 2014; and April 23, 2014). Last October, The Nation ran a collection of articles detailing the broad assault on public education by the forces of privatization. I have been waiting for the proper time to bring it to the attention of my readers. And when a gang of hayseed demagogues hit town, as they do every year under the Statehouse dome, intent on fiddling with the lives and futures of everyone from the local band director and biology teacher down to the munchkins in your kindergarten, I deem that to be the proper time.

For those who would like to read this collection of Nation articles, they are available below:

"What Happens When Your Teacher is a Video Game?"

"How to Destroy a Public-School System"

"Why Don't We Have Real Data on Charter Schools?"

"Venture Capitalists Are Poised to 'Disrupt' Everything About the Education Market"