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Volume II, Number 2, February, 2004

No Job Left Behind: Fiddling in Washington as Good Jobs Flee Offshore

By Jamie McKenzie (about author)

© 2004, Jamie McKenzie, all rights reserved

The loss of nearly three million good factory jobs during the Bush administration is soon to be followed by the loss of another three million well paid jobs during the next few years - white collar jobs being exported as fast as call centers and engineering departments can be created overseas.

Recently, President Bush promised three million new jobs by the end of the year, but this sudden, lately discovered passion for job creation seems hollow and fake. He sold his tax breaks for rich people on the argument that it would create jobs during 2003, but he fell short by hundreds of thousands of broken promise jobs.

What does this have to do with NCLB/Helter-Skelter?

If you take away the good jobs, you undermine the conditions that lead to school success. If parents are scraping by at low wages or no wages, children face many obstacles to success and are far less likely to do well in school. They are unlikely to enter school, as an earlier Bush put it, "ready to learn."

It's Poverty, Stupid!

This dangerous trend to export good jobs is called offshoring. Free trade and new technologies have opened the door to the wholesale export of jobs to countries where pay is 1/10th or less of American pay scales and workers often labor under conditions prohibited by laws in the United States. A century of progress toward building an affluent middle class is being eroded in a single decade.

The President's sudden job promises ring hollow without a concrete program to reverse dangerous trends identified by even the conservative media such as the Wall Street Journal.

Note articles such as "IBM Documents Give Rare Look At Sensitive Plans on 'Offshoring' When Shifting Jobs Abroad, It's $12.50 vs. $56 in Pay, And 'Sanitize' the Memos
By WILLIAM M. BULKELEY - Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL - January 19, 2004

Actions Count More Than Labels or Words

We once again see this administration claiming to do one thing while actually doing something quite different. Loyalty to corporate campaign contributors has undermined longstanding commitments to decent working conditions and pay. International corporations operate without concern for American workers or the quality of life here. Profits, cheap wages and low prices rule the day.

If actions speak louder than words, the current policy favors cheap labor supply over decency - decent wages, decent working conditions and decent education. The names of programs belie their true impact and true intent.

The End of the American Office Worker?

When I called the customer service number on my credit card, I had trouble understanding the person who answered my call. She asked me to repeat myself several times. I asked her to repeat herself several times. The problem I was calling about involved an online payment through the company's web site, and it soon became clear that she did not grasp the meaning of my idiomatic language.

"Where is your calling center located?"

"We're not allowed to give out that information, sir."

I asked to speak with a supervisor.

"Hi, this is Tom. I'm a supervisor in the Chicago office. How can I help you?"

I explained I wanted to know the location of the call center that first responded to my call. He put me on hold while he checked.

"That call center is in India," he announced.

According to various projections, many U.S. companies will be shifting their white collar jobs overseas in this decade, saving a fortune in labor costs.

(See coverage in the Wall Street Journal - January 19, 2004, "IBM Documents Give Rare Look At Sensitive Plans on 'Offshoring' When Shifting Jobs Abroad, It's $12.50 vs. $56 in Pay, And 'Sanitize' the Memos

First the factory jobs. Now the white collar jobs.

I cancelled my account in protest.

In a gesture of profoundly cynical opportunism, the Bush administration proposed a "guest worker" provision to make legal the millions of illegal immigrants now working in the USA - an ironic inshore version of offshoring - the importation of low wage workers to populate the non-union, low-paying jobs of this nation.

It's Poverty, Stupid!

Despite all the talk of improving education for children, the Bush approach puts too much focus on educational outcomes and too little on inputs - both social and educational. While we have clear evidence that much school failure is rooted in poverty and economic disadvantage, the labor, trade and economic policies of this administration worsen those social and economic conditions, increasing the number of children who do not arrive in school ready to learn.

A decade back, a previous President Bush promised that all American children would enter kindergarten ready to learn, but it was one more false promise. Current labor trends undermine the broad-based prosperity that is required to nurture young children and achieve the kinds of learning desired. Raising the educational high jump bar for starving children creates no Olympic champions.

What does this have to do with NCLB/Helter-Skelter?

NCLB's focus on high stakes testing and punishment without adequate funding or support for capacity building will actually drive millions of students into the streets without graduating - a reality well documented in Texas, where NCLB's parent was tried for a decade with disastrous results for a million children.

Henry Ford famously figured out the need to pay workers well enough so they might turn around and buy cars. The current administration builds tax policy around cuts for the wealthiest and is able to manage only a "jobless recovery" as the rich get richer and the rest of the population wonder what is happening to the American way of life.

Quoting from a Ford Ad

And because we make a motor for a Surrey man to drive, there are cotton hands in Rochdale who will keep their hopes alive. And because we make a tractor for a farmer down in Kent, there are jobs up there in Durham and there's money to be spent. There are women buying dresses, there are children being fed. There are mothers who can manage, there are lovers who can wed. There are hopes to be replenished, there are dreams to be restored. There are lives to reach fulfillment through the making of your Ford.

Source: PBS

Even though the elimination of the middle class is an event of disastrous meaning for Americans, it is proceeding apace with almost no mention in the press and with little public awareness.

© 2004, Jamie McKenzie, all rights reserved. This article may be e-mailed to individuals by individuals, but all other duplication, distribution, publication and use is prohibited without first receiving explicit permission. Contact for information.
What can you do to change this law before it does great damage to the schools and children in your state and town?
  1. Subscribe to "No Child Left" to stay informed about efforts to repeal NCLB. Click here.
  2. Speak with the school board members, administrators and teachers in your community to learn how NCLB will change schools and learning in your town.
  3. Start communicating with your Senators and Representatives to let them know you want this law changed to put more emphasis on capacity building and support rather than testing and punishment.
  4. Write letters to the editor of your local newspaper expressing your concerns. Illustrate the dangers of this law with specific and compelling examples.
  5. Emphasize concrete alternatives that would do more to improve the futures of disadvantaged children.

A List of ESEA (NCLB) Amendments

1. Fund social programs that impact school readiness so that all children actually enter school ready to learn as the first President Bush promised long ago.

2. Fund capacity building (enhanced teaching and learning) in districts and districts for several years before engaging in punishing labels and reckless choice provisions. Capacity building might mean providing hundreds of hours of training in effective reading strategies, for example. But it does not mean training everybody in a single highly scripted program endorsed by the administration for pseudo-scientific reasons.

3. Devote public money to truly public schools. Be careful not to divert funds to reckless experiments or diploma mills.

4. Fund enough construction of new schools within public systems so parental choice is real.

5. Support informed school choice within public systems.

6. Emphasize rewards and incentives rather than sanctions.

7. Hold all publicly funded schools to standards for performance and quality, whether actually private, charter or truly public. Be careful about simplistic notions of high stakes testing.

8. Fund recruitment and preparation of effective teachers and aides from all racial and economic groups to close the gap between current staffing levels and what is desirable.

9. End the insulting, broad brush assaults on teachers and administrators struggling against difficult challenges.

10. Capitalize on the good research conducted to discover what works best in schools and avoid simplistic panaceas and platitudes imported from the world of business and medicine.

11. Enrich the options available to all children. Forswear tightly scripted, robotic programs and the fast food approaches to school improvement.

12. Build school improvement on a richly defined foundation of alternatives and strategies.

13. Eliminate Trojan horses, hidden agendas and shameful politics from ESEA.

14. Stop using Madison Avenue techniques to hide the harsh realities of so-called compassionate conservatism.