Push back vs. bosses’ mandated curriculum

08 June 2024 212 hits

Teachers are able to learn who their students are and plan lessons based on those needs. This planning is a creative endeavor, so, though it ultimately maintains capitalism, many teachers do get a sense of fulfillment as they use their labor to create. This  illustrates what  Karl Marx outlined in his book Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts: that there is a human connection between our labor and the products we create. Now teachers are facing the disconnection from the means of production, that is producing our own texts, questions and lessons. Instead of the creative joy that comes from knowing and learning from our students in order to create their learning experiences, we are being given a front row seat into the alienation the working class deals with every day. The NYC Department of Education (DOE) has unveiled a plan to force all NYC teachers to use curriculum that the DOE directly produces, beginning in math and english.  

Teaching students loyalty to bosses

Communists know that the purpose for education under capitalism is to prepare the working class for the needs of the ruling class bosses. The bosses need compliant workers to be willingly exploited, as they steal our labor. So, though teachers are being removed from the production process of teaching, it will be the students who will directly face this ruling class attack. They will have prefabricated lessons designed by corporations and teachers who are compliant to the racist, sexist ideologies the bosses want to teach. Whereas, communist teachers have used the classroom to interrupt the bosses’ ideological production, interjecting communist ideas, and building the Progressive Labor Party that will one day bury capitalism once and for all. 

PLP has focused on the military, industrial work, and schools as our method of building the communist revolution that will transform our world.  The bosses see the working class turning against Israel’s genocide in Palestine and our refusal to join their military as World War III with their capitalist rivals looms. They need to build a much larger army than they have. This comes as they attempt to discipline the smaller capitalists represented by the gutter racist and sexist MAGAs. They also need an industrial base for war, to rebuild a failing infrastructure.

Teachers need to unite

In a NYC high school, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) union has been saying that there is no curriculum mandate while the administration has been making plans to implement it. Following a pattern of how they would close larger schools, they wanted to grant the teachers in the building the illusion of choice by saying that they could pick from a set of vendors each with a different curriculum. Much of the curriculum mandated by the administration contains books that drill anti-communist and  anti-working class ideas. One book that is taught at many public schools is Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, a vehemently anti-communist book. Out of the entire library of Black Literature, why that book?

This is a theme of these curriculums; they teach and control the narrative that the bosses need the workers to believe as reality.  
Being the bosses they are, the DOE informed the teachers that they had subsidized only one of the curricula, basically making the decision for them. The teachers in the English Department want to resist this existential attack on their careers. PLP keeps pointing out that this attack is indicative of growing fascism as the bosses directly move to take control of the means of ideological production. 

A video attached to an email that was sent to the English teachers by the corporation behind the chosen curriculum excitedly touted that teachers wouldn’t even have to grade anymore as now AI would do the grading! How great for the bosses as students would use AI to answer AI generated questions on a worksheet that AI would ultimately grade. What role would the teacher as producer have in this scenario apart from being a facilitator of the bosses’ designs? Communists know the answer is that the bosses would get exactly what they want and that students will suffer the most.  

Racism and sexism will intensify as the most exploited working class neighborhoods will get the least help because the teachers they get will be using subject matter not designed for them but for what the bosses need them to be. As the bosses push for online learning so they can shove 60 or more students into a classroom, the cutting edge of racism will be disproportionately felt by Black and Latin students.  As direct attacks on them were thwarted by the mass working class struggle that coalesced into the Black Lives Matter movement, the bosses will directly use their system to maintain the racist inequity necessary for them to maximize surplus value for the profit they need to maintain their superiority over their imperialist rivals and, eventually, fund their wars.  

Reform vs. Revolution

At this moment, the administration is saying that they will allow English teachers to teach anything they want for a single six week marking period.  This crumb of reform will easily be taken away as they entrench their curriculum.  It will be only a matter of time before the bosses create the facilitators of their ideology that they require for capitalism to remain unthreatened.  

The little bit of human connection through labor that teachers get and are now losing would be far greater once we are all building a communist world. It will be when students are the focus of teaching because the whole of society will see them as  producers, and their learning will be utilized to build a world where their needs would be met. Despite not being on the verge of communist revolution, the teachers in the building do want to fight back and are organizing meetings to discuss how. PLP is focused on building these meetings, facilitating this fight back, and making sure that it won’t be easy for the bosses to attack the working class.