The Paledium Times
Privatizing Not the Answer to Crisis in Education
By Meryl Simon and Ruth Oron
We feel strongly that privatization of our schools cannot answer the crisis in education. Established over 300 years ago as the proud cornerstone of democracy in America, public education must now be made to fulfill its original promise—to bring out the best possibilities in every child. Taxpayers' money meant for this beautiful purpose should not be diverted into the pockets of stockholders.
Aesthetic Realism, founded by the great American educator, Eli Siegel, explains that the purpose of education and the purpose of the profit system are utterly incompatible. The purpose of education, and every person's deepest desire, he stated, "is to like the world through knowing it." The opposing desire, on which the profit system is based, and which interferes with the best thing in every person, Mr. Siegel explained, is contempt, "the addition to self through the lessening of something else."
In 1970, he showed that our economic system had failed, stating: "Deeply, what has made the profit system weaker is at the very beginning of history...man was not made to be used by man for money... It is a corruption, it is artifice."
Because it is harder to make profit in these years, corporations out of desperation are looking to public institutions—the post office, health care, Amtrak, and now, education—as fields for making money.
It is contempt that has private companies, such as Edison Schools, "in a feeding frenzy" as an article in the American Teacher puts it to take over schools in such cities as Hartford, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Boston and Los Angeles, overriding the objections of "parents, civil rights activists, labor organizations, educators and other concerned citizens." The American Teacher quotes J. Whyatt Mondesire, president of the Philadelphia chapter of the NAACP: "The people behind [privatizing] are more interested in making sure their company stays profitable on Wall Street than in the education of black, Latino and white schoolchildren."
"Public education," explains Ellen Reiss, Class Chairman of Aesthetic Realism in the international journal The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known: "is the saying that all the people of a land owe it to a single child to have knowledge come to him or her. It is also a saying that a child's need for knowledge should not be exploited for private profit... the effort to undo public education is, really, as reactionary as an effort to have this nation ruled again by a king."
How proud should we Americans be that public education began in this country? In The Right Of, Ms. Reiss quotes Horace Mann who tells of the importance of the Massachusetts act of 1647 making education free for all children: "It is impossible," he wrote, "for us adequately to conceive the boldness of the measure...As a fact it had no precedence in…history."
Now over 350 years later, through the Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method, all children can learn that their deepest desire is "to like the world, through knowing it," by seeing the world aesthetically. The basis of this method which enables students to love learning math, science, history, reading, and also be kinder, is this principle by Eli Siegel: "The world, art, and self explain each other; each is the aesthetic oneness of opposites."
And on July 26, as part of the historic celebration of the centenary of Eli Siegel’s birth this year, the Honorable Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland entered a tribute which he titled "Honoring Eli Siegel" into theCongressional Record. Congressman Cummings states in part: "…a teaching method, based on Aesthetic Realism, has been tested in New York City public schools. [It] has been tremendously successful. Understanding and using the teaching method may be used as an effective tool to stop racism and promote tolerance; because it enables people of all races to see others with respect and kindness…Eli Siegel died in 1978, but his poetry and the education of Aesthetic Realism will be studied in every English, literature, and art classroom across the nation for years to come."
For the crisis in education to end at last, and for public education to meet the hopes of all citizens, we urge that the Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method be implemented in our nation’s schools. To learn more about Aesthetic Realism, visit www.AestheticRealism.org