Posts Tagged ‘Licking County Public School Students’

Biopolitics Laid Bare

August 13, 2016

Analysis often lists “hegemony” as a tag line for many of its posted essays. Within any conversation, discussion, or exchange of ideas, it is assumed that there will be more than one point of view. Hegemony doesn’t negate this outlook. What it does describe is that one point of view or outlook dominates the exchange by determining format, or prioritization of hierarchy, or the agenda of ideas. Some ideas will be energetically contested while others will be so marginalized as to never find voice. Currently, in Ohio, there is a very contested exchange of ideas over the nature of state sponsored (paid for) education. The state constitution mandates education as a required state concern. The current Department of Education was caught with its pants down regarding charter school oversight, especially in regard to online schooling. The State Auditor has been vocal in advocating for better control, “accounting”. Results range from new legislation “to give an accounting” all the way to Ecot (major online school) being required to account for when its students attended and what they received for this attendance, etc. The “to give an accounting” screw primarily turns on money spent (by the state) and what is received in return (much as a purchase at a big box store is defined). The intricacies of what is learned, how much it costs, and whether it is comparable with brick and mortar educational facilities is what complicates the online analysis (how “to give an accounting”). After all, there is no little teacher on the other end of an online educational program to teach math, history or Spanish. It is only soft ware, 1’s and 0’s. Yet the demand remains for determining (and verifying) a return on money spent per pupil in either pedagogy. What ties the discussion together, makes it possible, is the self righteous predetermination of “performance” as a basis to assess the return on investment. (starts to sound a lot like the marketing of stocks, doesn’t it?). Hegemony reveals itself when one questions the value or worth of the cost of a school nurse, the guidance counselor, individual sports coach, school social worker or psychologist. Just how does one (the legislature) factor in the return on investment via the outcome or “performance” of individual students for these disparate education contributors? The hegemony of the debate, the dominance of the financial mode for determining the benefits of public education, through whatever means, is clarified when one considers other forms of public sponsored or funded interaction akin to education. Public transportation readily comes to mind. Though Licking County’s response to the need of public transportation certainly continues the hegemony of financial return (with service very much established around this priority), large city fixed service mass transit elides this hegemony. Like public education, public transit is considered a given requirement. Yes, bus routes must have limits (starts and ends), and yes, certain frequencies must be established, and stops determined, but after that, there is no channeling of ridership as to who goes where, and how often. Subway systems and light rail are accessible for riders no matter what, unfettered by any requirement of justification for their efficacy. Another example would be public libraries which promote various, often disparate resources for use by any (and all) with few necessities of legitimation by the user. We’re not talking rules here, but giving an accounting for resource availability. The hegemony of performance with financial accountability at the heart of the public education debate is evidence of what theoreticians describe as biopolitics. Black Lives Matter is just one of many responses to the politics of authority, where a monarch, dictator or “police” authority rules through intimidation or overt power (might makes right). Most modern “democratic” states rely on other measures to insure that taxes get paid, the state is secure internally/externally, and that its citizens can live out their lives (raise families, pursue interests, care for themselves and loved ones, etc.). Differing from authoritarianism, biopolitics relies on the biological development of the individual, and hence the citizenry. Through various means, biopolitics determines a pool of soldiers, or medical practitioners, truck drivers and school teachers, etc. to avail itself for the good of the state. The current debate of performance based accounting for the efficacy of any state sponsored schooling reveals the working of biopolitics within the functioning of Ohio’s “real” governance. Although an American democracy where each should be able to determine their own path, the State of Ohio is determining resource allocation only on the basis of how it promotes the aspirations of the state (which currently are totally market driven). Unlike public libraries or public transportation, where the individual user can determine the actual use (or not) of the public resource, the hegemony of “performance” and financial return on educational spending determines the orientation and development of the biological individual public education is meant to serve. Education as a resource for the citizens of Ohio becomes education as a response to the demands of the market. This is biopolitics laid bare.


UPC And Licking County Public School Students

November 10, 2013


            The 11-10-13 Newark Advocate ran an article by Anna Jeffries, Enrollment down slightly in many Licking school districts. The article gave preliminary data made available “from Licking County schools” (?) with specific numbers for the various school districts and an accounting of how these number were arrived at, and what they are used for. ““We are just a microcosm of the state of Ohio,” Hile said [David Hile, superintendent of Licking Valley Schools]. “The state of Ohio is losing population, people are moving and we have aging populations. All the demographic factors affecting the country and the state are affecting Licking Valley.”” Although the statistics show a slight decline within Newark City Schools (the largest school district in the county) Jeffries writes “The district is seeing significant growth in its lower grades, from kindergarten to fourth grade and, if that continues, it could increase enrollment going forward, Ute said [Newark City Schools Superintendent Doug Ute].” The significance of the count is more than statistical, “It’s important to be precise to ensure students are being tracked properly and schools are funded accurately, he [John Charlton, Ohio Department of Education spokesperson] said.” To counter what Anna’s headline establishes, some districts have opted for open enrollment, siphoning off students from adjoining districts to offset the decreased state funding that per head state calculations produce. This in turn leaves those adjoining districts with less. Analysis believes a UPC number attached to each student might be of benefit here. The economic “value” (asset/debit) of each individual could be “tracked properly” and so much more efficiently.


Analysis now looks at another set of statistics. Half Our Public School Students Are Officially Poor by Laura Kiesel, TheStreet (11/06/13) reports that “A study released last month by the Southern Education Foundation found that nearly half (48%) of the nation’s 50 million public school students, and half or more of those in most Southern and some Western states, are now low income. The report based its findings on USDA figures for students in preschool through high school that qualified for federal free and reduced-price meal programs in the 2010-11 academic year. According to the federal guidelines, the income cap for these programs for a family of four was $40,793 in 2011.” Further in the article she writes “U.S. Department of Education statistics reveal that the number of homeless children enrolled in public schools rose 10% in the 2011-12 academic year from the year before, bringing the number to a record high of more than 1.1 million. This is a 72% increase since the 2006-07 school year — just before the Great Recession. In particular, 43 states have experienced consecutive annual increases in youth homelessness since the onset of the recession, with 10 states reporting increases of 20% or more. Worse yet, these statistics are probably an underestimate of the nation’s homeless children; they don’t consider infant and toddlers, or children not identified as homeless by school officials. Additionally, some students may not be included in the Education Department statistics because although they are eligible for aid for the homeless through their schools, their families are ineligible through the US. Department of Housing and Urban Development.”


Analysis asks whether these are one and the same folks (with or without a UPC number to track them properly)? Is the local reader of the Jeffries article connecting with what Kiesel reports? Did the recent cut in food stamp funding, etc. advocated and endorsed by Licking County’s congressional representatives embrace the  Licking County students covered by the Kiesel findings (“We are just a microcosm of the state of Ohio,”), or are these “some other” people, not necessarily those represented by Pat Tiberi and Bob Gibbs? Does the state funding “solution” championed by Licking County’s various state legislative representatives promote and encourage a Universal Product Code mentality and efficiency regarding the education of Licking County Public School students?