Saturday, January 25, 2014

The State of the (corporate) State

A note:  this was going to be much longer, but my sister-in-law's illness changed a number of plans.  There will be additional installments.

I love these kinds of speeches, but they are better read as philosophical tracts than actual political programs.

It's amazing what you can learn about the paradoxes of Governor Markell and the entirety of the Delaware General Assembly when you parse his speech of this past week.

Consider these sentences about public education, which DO actually appear this close together in the speech:
Our schools are implementing higher standards while, thanks to legislation passed by the General Assembly, we are better preparing our teachers. And the companies that will hire our students are dealing with fewer and clearer government regulations.
In actual English:
When dealing with public education, micro-manage.  When dealing with corporations, less regulation is essential.
Or this:
Before the end of the decade, 60 percent of our jobs will require training beyond high school. And yet only 20% of our kids graduate from high school ready for college or a career.
Which means this:
Vision 2015 2020, No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and associated reforms have failed 80% of our students, but I'm really hoping you don't notice that.

Back to not only micro-managing public education, but also higher education:
As we send more of our students into higher education, we need to make sure that they have a roadmap from the classroom to employment, and that our major employers are working with our universities so that our youth are prepared for the workforce. I’m pleased to announce today that DuPont has agreed to partner with our colleges on this effort. 
They will work to identify skills needed for entry-level positions, match those skills with courses offered by our colleges, and provide internships. By completing identified courses and practical experiences, they will put students on a fast-track for opportunities, including full-time jobs.
What this means:
We really don't care about liberal arts or critical thinking--the only purpose to education in Delaware is to feed entry-level corporate positions.
And this:
Let’s also ensure that those students who choose an accelerated career path – one that doesn’t involve a degree – get a head start on their futures. 
This fall, we will roll out a new two-year comprehensive program in manufacturing technologies for high school juniors and seniors. The program will focus on mechanical, electrical, and computer engineering – and will lead to nationally recognized manufacturing certificates.
Again, in English:
Academic tracking was a really great idea in the 1950s-1970s, and I'm pretty sure that as I reintroduce it nobody's going to notice the ethnicity of the majority of students shunted off into the vocational track accelerated career path.
Then the summary on Education:
All of our efforts will be most successful when Delaware businesses collaborate with Delaware educational institutions. So I propose creating a competitive grant program to fund public-private partnerships between employers and our schools and colleges that will develop the skills needed by tomorrow’s workforce. 
Finally, too many working Delawareans struggle to care for their families and put food on the table. I am glad that the General Assembly is poised to increase the minimum wage. Thank you for helping so many hardworking Delawareans.
Here's where I wonder if the few Delaware Democrats who happen to be liberals or progressives get it:
I'm really hoping you don't notice that I haven't even talked about a plan to help the tens of thousands unemployed adults in Wilmington, and I'm not really concerned about moving the people at Wal-Mart or McDonalds even up to the poverty line; the minimum wage raise is just good PR.
There is a consistent theme here that plays out throughout the entirety of the speech:  government does what it does in service of corporate America.

Look at why we must clean up our waterways:

As Speaker Schwartzkopf and Senator Simpson know full well, investment in our parks, wildlife areas, beaches and other recreational amenities help attract millions of tourists, who in turn spend hundreds of millions of dollars and support thousands of jobs at restaurants, hotels and retail shops across our state. 
Look specifically at our waterways. Water is the foundation of our tourism industry. It’s vital to agriculture, manufacturing, and everything that we do.
Sensing a trend here?  We must take care of the ecology because the tourism industry needs it, the restaurant industry needs it, the hotel industry needs it, the retail industry needs it, the agriculture industry needs it, the manufacturing industry needs it.

Governor Markell:  speaking directly to the constituents who elected him.

And, oddly, the issue of pollution in Delaware apparently just sort of appeared:
Yet a century of pollution has impaired nearly every waterway in our state.
Yep, that century of pollution had nothing to do, apparently, with any of those industries--nor should they pay any direct share in cleaning it up.  Either it just sorta happened:

The Christina and Brandywine rivers are laced with toxic pollutants

--or else I'm thinking that teachers did it--while they weren't educating 80% of our students.

On an almost final note for tonight, let's see how many corporate constituents are mentioned in glowing terms in the body of this speech:

Miller Metal
Incyte
SevOne
Bloom Energy
DuPont
The Delaware Manufacturing Association
Agilent
Siemens
PBF
PPG
Cabelas
Sitel
Grayling Industries
Chrysler*
Target*
*--Chrysler and Target are bad seeds, but everybody else who contributed and supported the Delaware Way got exactly the product placement they wanted.

Now, a final note:  here's this:
Much has been written in recent months about inequality in America. About a lack of economic mobility, declining incomes for working families, and a shrinking middle class. About a lack of opportunity for people born into difficult circumstances or who make a
Yep, the Governor's absolutely right--a lot has been written, and one of the most recent, authoritative studies showcased in the New York Times shows that after three successive Democratic Governors and a raft of General Assemblies sharing power in many ways between Republicans and Democrats, guess what?

Not only is Delaware in general a mediocre to crappy place in terms of poor people's ability to climb out of poverty, but both Wilmington and Dover rank incredibly poorly in a nationwide study of the ability of poor people to escape poverty.

How could that be, with all the governmental innovations and public-private partnerships about which our politicians have raved over the past two decades?

Again, I'm thinking it's the teachers' fault.

1 comment:

tom said...

College, or even High school is way too late. Anyone who hasn't mastered at least the basics of critical thinking by 2nd or 3rd grade is destined for a lifetime of being a Little Deluded Dupe.

If I were a conspiracy theory type, I would probably believe that the State knows this and intentionally fails to teach critical thinking in the government schools.