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Edushyster Interviews Joanne Barkan on the Plutocrat’s Lament

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Edushyster interviewed Joanne Barkan, one of our most perceptive writers about the farce/hoax called “education reform.”

Barkan has written a series of important articles about the reformers, they of high stature, who want to run the nation’s public schools that they do not patronize. “Got Dough?” is a classic. She quickly understood that the billionaires don’t trust democracy. And that is a theme of her work on education.

In response to one of EduShyster’s questions, Barkan replies:

Some of the wealthiest people in the United States have had an easy go of it. They started with wealth, likely went to private schools, and have no sense of what public education is and why it’s necessary. And, of course, there are also those who started with nothing and made their own fortunes. It seems that by the time they’ve made a lot of money, they’ve lost touch with the role of public education. The vast majority of the super wealthy send their own kids to private schools, which they do for a variety of reasons, including prestige. What’s interesting to me is that there are some states that have written into their constitutions that the primary obligation of state government is public education. When those constitutions were being written in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, government was much more limited. We have a situation today where so many states are under tremendous financial pressure, and the first place they go when they have to cut is public education, as if public education were somehow an extra, as opposed to being a fundamental responsibility.

EduShyster: I was smitten by the subtitle of your article: *Bill Gates, Washington State and the Nuisance of Democracy.* What is it about democracy that plutocrats find so irksome?

Barkan: The plutocrats—people like Bill and Melinda Gates, Michael Bloomberg, John Arnold, or Eli Broad—have very set ideas about what they want to do. It doesn’t matter to them, or perhaps they just don’t understand, that their ideas may not be based on sound research or principles. They know what they want, and they come out of professional experiences where they’ve had complete authority. When they get to public education, they expect to be in control and to make things happen as quickly as if they were still running their companies. But as everyone should know, democracy is slow, and it’s messy, and that turns out to be a great nuisance for plutocrats.

The rest of the interview is fascinating and enlightening.

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