U.S. and World Politics

The Corporate Dream: Teachers as Temps

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

As Democrats hustle to shovel a billion dollars into President Obama’s campaign coffers—making promises to rich people and their corporations every step of the way—America’s billionaires are spending even more money to seize control of the nation’s public schools. Although super-wealthy capitalists like Microsoft’s Bill Gates, fellow computer mogul Michael Dell, real estate magnate Eli Broad, and the rapacious owners of Wal-Mart, the Walton Family, would like people to think of them as philanthropists, they are nothing more than down-and-dirty investors who hope to reap much more than they sow. This mega-buck mafia’s goal is to gain access to the $600-billion-per-year that taxpayers pump into public schools, and then to profit in perpetuity by shaping the nation’s educational system to their corporate needs. The corporate education project has nothing to do with growing new generations of smarter, socially aware, independent-thinking citizens, but is designed to raid public treasuries through wholesale contracting-out of public schooling.

Teachers are the biggest obstacle in the way of the corporate educational coup, which is why the billionaires, eagerly assisted by their servants in the Obama administration, have made demonization and eventual destruction of teachers unions their top priority. Corporations hate collective bargaining, or working people’s power of any kind, but their vision goes way beyond simply neutralizing teachers unions. The billionaires, and the politicians they have purchased, want nothing less than to destroy teaching as a profession. Plutocrats like Bill Gates and politicians like Barack Obama may make noises about respecting teachers’ life-long commitment to learning, but their actions prove the opposite. At every opportunity, whenever a real or manufactured educational crisis presents itself, the corporate gang champions charter schools and imports platoons of young, mostly white, inexperienced rookies from programs like Teach for America. Most of these neophytes have no intention of making teaching a career, so they accept low wages, turnover is high, and they have no long term interest in any particular school, or school system, or the profession in general. They are temporary teachers—which is precisely the point.

Just as corporations have revamped the private white-collar workforce, replacing full-time, salaried personnel with “temporary” workers—a system in which some managers are officially temps—such are the prospects for teachers in the brave new corporate world of education “reform.”

The billionaires’ propaganda machinery claims the corporatization of American education is necessary to make the United States “competitive,” internationally. But teachers in most of the countries that lead the U.S. in learning are highly respected, if not revered, and relatively well compensated. Under the guise of “reform,” the United States is moving in exactly the opposite direction as the rest of the world. The American people are being conned by billionaire hustlers who are stealing the public schools—and the national future—right in front of our eyes.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at

Black Agenda Report, May 25, 2011