Reviews of National Policies for Education: Santa Catarina State, Brazil 2010

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The state of emergency of public education and the demand for its restructuring and privatization is to be viewed, then, as primarily the product of the current long-term period of economic and social instability.

The structural crisis of capital as a whole is reflected in the struggle over schooling, which, far from being incidental to the system today, can now be seen as lying at or near its core. The result has been a resurgence of the long battle on the part of the vested interests to establish a commodified school system, bringing education increasingly within the domain of the market.

Every means is now used to achieve this end, including exploiting the contradictions of race and class, international competition, and economic instability itself. In the mids, radical economists Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis provided a useful political-economic framework for the analysis of elementary and secondary education in their pioneering work, Schooling in Capitalist America. For Bowles and Gintis, schooling under capitalism—if not countered by powerful democratic resistance movements—tends to evolve in the direction of capitalist-class imperatives, which subordinate it to the needs of production and accumulation.

In this view, the forms of consciousness and behavior fostered by capitalist schooling are designed to reproduce existing classes and groupings, and thus are meant to reinforce and legitimize the social relations of production of capitalist society as a whole. Those between these two groups are mainly trained to be reliable, in addition to following rules. Very little of the schooling at the elementary and secondary levels is oriented to developing actual skills, much less knowledge—which, to the extent that they are needed for later employment, can be obtained on the job or in post-secondary education vocational-training institutes and colleges.

Schools are, then, less about education than a kind of behavioral modification, preparing the vast majority of students for a life of routinization and standardization, in which most will end up employed in essentially unskilled, dead-end jobs. Indeed, most jobs in the degraded work environment of monopoly capitalist society—even those set aside for college graduates—require precious little formal education.

The highest quality elementary and secondary education in the United States, meanwhile, lies outside of the public schools altogether in a very small number of extremely elite private schools devoted to the education of the children of the very rich, whose goal is to generate a governing class. Bush and George W. It has a student-teacher ratio of 5 to 1, with 73 percent of the teachers holding advanced degrees, and a full curriculum. Such schools are seen as red carpets into the Ivy League.

This argument, as developed in Schooling in Capitalist America , was not intended to be deterministic, but rather to raise issues of class struggle. In most periods…efforts to use the schools to reproduce and extend capitalist production relations have been countered both by the internal dynamic of the educational system and by popular opposition. The historical part of their book dealt extensively with both the internal dynamics of the educational system—that is, the struggles, mainly of teachers, to retain autonomy within the system in the interest of educating children—and the popular movements that periodically arose in opposition to the main drift of capitalist education, in the form of the counter-hegemonic movements of educators, parents, and community members.

Yet, both forms of struggle tended to be mere rearguard actions or, at best, wars of position , almost never taking the form of forcible assaults wars of movement on the underlying principles of capitalist schooling. The result was that the corporate agenda dominated overall. The significance of such a broad political-economic approach to public education is that it allows us to perceive the underlying logic governing the development of capitalist schooling in the United States and elsewhere. Public education arose in the United States early in the nineteenth century.

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But the education system as we know it today only emerged, beginning in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Its modern development thus corresponds in time to the rise of monopoly capitalism, an economy dominated by giant corporations. In the largest of these, the formation of U.

This represented the great era of corporate concentration, marking the rise of big-business capitalism. Hence, control of the labor process by owners and managers was often more formal than real. As corporations and their workforces and factories got bigger with the rise of monopoly capitalism, however, it became possible to extend the division of labor, and therefore to exercise greater top-down managerial control.

Control of the conception of the labor process was systematically removed from the workers and monopolized by management. Henceforth, according to this managerial logic, workers were merely to execute commands from above, with their every movement governed down to the smallest detail. The chief result of the introduction of scientific management into industry, as Harry Braverman explained in in Labor and Monopoly Capital , was the degradation of working conditions for most workers.

Increasingly, monopoly capitalist society was characterized by a polarization of skill, with only a limited demand for a relatively small number of highly skilled workers, as compared with masses of unskilled workers. The corporate-designed education system was constructed with the aim of producing workers tracked to these different labor-market segments. But scientific management was also seen as a way of directing the labor process within the schools themselves—subjecting teachers to new forms of corporate management.

Scientific management first became a widely known concept in the United States after Louis Brandeis, arguing before the Interstate Commerce Commission in , publicly extolled the magic of efficiency engineers in increasing corporate profits. Scientific management and efficiency experts soon became the rage among corporate executives and public officials alike, quickly spreading to the administration of public schools, where standards, testing, and Taylorized schools became the defining principles for a new utopia: the corporate-model school system.

The worker must be kept supplied with detailed instructions as to the work to be done, the standards to be reached, the methods to be employed, and the appliances to be used…. Teachers cannot be permitted to follow caprice in method. When a method which is clearly superior to all other methods has been discovered, it alone can be employed. The primary means by which the efficiency of teachers was to be evaluated under this system was through the testing of their students. Heavy emphasis was thus placed, beginning just prior to the First World War, on developing rigid standards accompanied by standardized tests.

1. Introduction

This coincided with the movement to carry out IQ testing, and various thinly disguised racist forms of assessment. This early attempt to create a corporate-dominated, standardized education system was seeded by the new philanthropic, tax-free foundations that arose in the period. Millionaire industrialists like Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, and Henry Ford established private foundations, designed to employ philanthropic financing to leverage major social changes, circumventing the role of government.

The Carnegie Foundation was a leading force in both the eugenics and testing movements. But despite the powerful influence exercised by monopoly corporations and philanthropic foundations early in the twentieth century in developing a corporate model for schools, complete with rigid standards and testing, the public schools remained, in many ways, outside their control. Schools were often the focus of democratic struggles emanating from progressive teachers, parents, and communities.

Education remained publicly funded, decentralized, and subject to community pressures.

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Teachers were low-paid professionals in a labor-intensive field where they had considerable autonomy and often identified with working-class children. The resulting system of capitalist schooling had very serious defects. As a deeply segregated society, the United States remained institutionally racist—constituting The Shame of the Nation , as Jonathan Kozol was to put it in his book on the continuing role of racial stratification in U. The American Teacher , which became the journal of the American Federation of Teachers, carried an article in opposing scientific management in the schools, which argued:.

The organization and methods of the schools have taken on the form of those commercial enterprises that distinguish our economic life. We have consented to measure the results of educational efforts in terms of price and product—the terms that prevail in the factory and department store. But education, since it deals…with individualities, is not analogous to a standardizable manufacturing process.

Education must measure its efficiency not in terms…of so many student-hours per dollar of salary; it must measure its efficiency in terms of increased humanism, increased power to do, increased capacity to appreciate.

Education in Brazil

Education remained, therefore, a highly contested realm, with educators, parents, and community members often organizing in opposition to the main thrust of capitalist schooling. The inclination to learn from life itself and to make the conditions of life such that all will learn in the process of living is the finest product of schooling. Building alliances with both parents and communities, the TU fought to end racial discrimination and poverty, recognizing that these were the main barriers to the success of students. It thus aimed at an educational philosophy that entailed the transformation of the whole society.

Representing a powerful alternative—what today might be called social movement unionism—the TU was redbaited out of existence in the Cold War. Some eleven hundred school employees were called in for questioning and over four hundred were fired or driven out of the profession. Although none of these progressive educational movements were able to transform U. What changed matters decisively for the worse was the onset of economic stagnation beginning with the recession, and continuing with a declining economic growth trend ever since.

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Real economic growth in the United States dropped, decade by decade, from the s on, putting increasing pressure on education. Total government spending on K education as a percentage of GDP had risen in the s and early s, reaching 4. The percentage of public school revenue coming from local government plummeted from 53 percent in to 44 percent in due to a widespread property tax revolt. Consequently, funding became more centralized at the state level.


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Schools, meanwhile, were forced to cope with growing deficits from the larger society. The percentage of U. Rising numbers of increasingly impoverished children arrived in the public schools, bringing with them more pressing needs, leading to greater strains on limited school resources.

The response to the deteriorating conditions of the schools in the neoliberal period, characterized by cuts in social spending, was greater emphasis on standards and assessments. Schools were put on a more corporate, market-driven basis and increasingly privatized through the introduction of various conservative school choice initiatives, including vouchers and charter schools.

The main goal was to allow government funds to subsidize private education. This was a direct attack on public education. In contrast, charter schools, which are publicly financed but privately managed schools, no longer run by school districts but still technically public schools, constituted what was to become a more subtle approach to privatization, arising in the s.

In the s, a powerful conservative political coalition, led by corporate interests, was organized against the public schools. Ronald Reagan sought to institute school vouchers, while frequently indicating his desire to abolish the U. Department of Education—established as a cabinet-level department during the Carter administration. Its message was that the U. No mention was made of slowing economic growth, increasing inequality, growing poverty, etc.


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As it stands, we have allowed this to happen to ourselves…. We have, in effect, been committing an act of unthinking, unilateral educational disarmament. The Reagan administration, which initiated a huge Cold War military buildup while cutting taxes on the wealthy and corporations, used the rhetoric of reducing the skyrocketing federal deficit to justify jettisoning federal support for schools—including a 50 percent cut in federal Title I funding for schools in low-income districts. Table shows selected WHO member states with homicide rate rank in parentheses out of countries.

Homicides per , increased from There were 50, homicides in Brazil in The increase in homicide rates has occurred almost entirely among young men Waiselfisz, Modeled data, accounting for deaths by external causes with unknown intent, show that actual homicide rates in Brazil may be significantly higher than recorded figures see years — in Fig.

The estimated homicide rate in was Notably, after a steady increase in homicide rates during the s and early s there was a downturn from onwards, after disarmament legislation in In contrast, the rate of homicide not involving firearms remained relatively stable from the mids onwards.

Two studies evaluated longer-term trends in deaths by violence in Brazil. From the s youth mortality rates fell as infectious diseases were controlled infectious diseases had been the leading cause of death. Barreto et al. In Brazil, homicide victims are most likely to be young, male, Black, and with few years of education, as shown in the following statistics.