Joe Rodriguez, a reporter for the Mercury News recently reported that in San Jose, California:
“The city is blessed with high schools that prepare low-income, underachieving students for college, but here comes one with a twist. Students at this school will attend classes four days a week, but on the fifth they’ll put on work clothes and hoof it over to a local business, corporation or agency and put in a day’s work for a day’s pay. The catch is they can’t keep the money” (http://www.mercurynews.com/education/ci_22251566/new-cristo-rey-high-school-san-jose-will).
Yes, the heady days of neo-feudalism have now arrived and with them have come the school to work pipeline that affords students the ability to be exploited, like prison inmates all in the name of education.
Pegged as an opportunity for students, so-called philanthropist John A. Sobrato, who recently donated $1.25 million for the new Cristo Rey San Jose High School, which is scheduled to open in the fall, commented:
“Basically, I liked the work requirement. I worked as a young kid, and I think it’s important for them to learn what it’s like to work in a business or office” (ibid).
Yes, the philanthro-pirates like Sobrato love child labor especially when it is free, offers minimal protection and can be sold as “helping kids” when in fact it is child abuse and child labor all designed and bundled up by businessmen in silk back suits with lofty plans for the transition of education into purgatory for low paid work under failing capitalism.
When 125 freshmen reopen a shuttered school at Five Wounds Portuguese National Parish church just east of downtown, they will join some 7,400 other low-income, mostly minority and urban students at 17 Catholic high schools across the country. The schools are run by the Chicago-based Cristo Rey Network and Jesuit religious order.
The schools says it offers an “all-around education and emphasizes independent and critical thinking”, but when one reads the warning label what differentiates Cristo Rey from the low-income, college-prep pack is the mandatory requirement for off-campus jobs. Students typically perform clerical work in corporate and legal offices, but here they’ll have the opportunity to work at high-tech campuses, too. This is what one can only call being tied to the carpet loom of peonage.
Khanh Russo, a Cisco manager who wrote the feasibility plan for the school, said a big selling point for the San Jose campus was its potential for bridging the educational gap between the valley’s low-income populations and the vast number of Silicon Valley companies where even entry level positions require college degrees. Now why would an entry level position require a college degree? They don’t. College degrees are little more than commodities to be bought and sold for student debt and then once purchased, they are used to gain a handhold on the low paid ladder of despair. Moving up on the salary scale is another scam used to force people into colleges to seek phony degrees that carry little in the way of education but pack a low paid punch for low paid work.
Even so, as Rodriguez noted, Cristo Rey schools are open to students of all faiths. Sobrato said 40 percent are not Catholic. Students typically come from families earning $35,000 a year or less a year. The school has lined up 37 San Jose employers eager to hire the kids — lending credence to the fact the school is little more than a recruiting center for precarious employment, a holding tank for capitalist work in the race to the bottom.
Rodriguez reports that many of the students are in for culture shock. When a CBS 60 Minutes news team visited Cristo Rey’s flagship school in Chicago recently, it videotaped students learning how to knot ties for the first time and how to shake hands with the confidence of professionals — charm schools for the working class, disenfranchised, people of color and the poor or better yet, for Fagin’s kids.
Whatever the students earn will go toward tuition (just like whatever prisoners earn will go to the ‘canteen’). The cost of tuition averages about $10,000 a year at Cristo Rey schools. Thus, the students will work to pay debt while their employers exploit them in the name of progress and trade student loan debt, or Student Loan Asset Backed Securities (SLABS) on Wall Street. Sobrato said most of the families could afford to contribute up to $1,000, with the rest covered by student earnings and various grants and donations.
Sobrato’s $1.25 million gift was actually a challenge grant, which he said has already been met by other seedy and smarmy ‘donors’. Take for example another lead benefactor, Brendan J. Cassin, a venture capitalist and Cristo Rey board member. The school’s board of directors has selected the Rev. Peter Pabst, a Jesuit and founder of two college prep middle schools in San Jose, as the new high school’s president.
These philanthro-pirates love to use religion as a hook to get students and their parents to pray for pie in the sky when they die. Using ‘reverends’ without reverence, these hucksters can then clamp on to young children like parasites looking for a host, which they are.
All of this is being sold as something good for students when in fact it is a Dickensian abhorrence that can only be envisioned as something beneficial by those who seek to exploit children while denying them a truly meaningful and contemplative education.
This is where we are today when it comes to ‘schooling under capitalism’. It has nothing to do with education and everything to do with boosting profits for the wealth vultures and flocks for the sheepherders.
This is faith based capitalism in action – the neo-feudal landscape of the new childhood where there are those who rule, those who work and those who pray. The truly disgusting part is that it is all part of the Obama Department of Education’s plans for the cementing of the new Jim Crow and acceptance of an escalating inequality that can only worsen under the current economic oligarchs.