Only a crisis actual or perceived produces real change. Milton Friedman
It's the premise of Naomi Klein, in her new book, The Shock Doctrine, that radical change can be applied to whole societies or communities when they are in a state of shock, much as an individual reacts from electric shock therapy treatments. The subject, individual or community, is reduced to a pliable state in which they are highly suggestive and can be manipulated. This Shock Doctrine has been a method employed by governments for decades.
Its techniques on the uses of shock to gain compliance from prisoners have been documented in a CIA handbook. Radical "free market" economist Friedman's "shock treatment" was applied to Russia under Yeltsin to push through radical economic changes. Other similar applications include: in China after the Tienanmen Square massacre to prepare it to become the world's sweat shop, Sept. 11th to push through Bush's neoconservative agenda, the invasion and devastation of Iraq to put that nation and its resources under U.S. control, and to push through charter schools in post-Katrina New Orleans. In either case, the shock producing event could be contrived or just taken advantage of when the opportunity presents itself.
Have the faculty, students, staff and parents of the NYC public school system been put under a similar shock pattern to pave the way for "culture change" as Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein want it?
Is the No Child Left Behind Act of the federal government designed to create a crisis? Surely, we know that this unfunded mandate, with its unrealistic expectations represents a new form of federal intervention in school districts designed to wreak havoc and pave the way for privatization (see Alfie Kohn, Test Today, Privatize Tomorrow, in the Phi Delta Kappan, April 2004).
What of the impact on kids with the increasing number of exams and discontinuance of social promotions? You can see how the experts are advising parents and kids to cope with the stress: http://www.nymetroparents.com/newarticle.cfm?colid=7334 if you aren't convinced.
Take a look at how teachers' professional lives in NYC have been shocked:
1. Loss of due process rights in grieving a disciplinary letter in the file.
2. Hundreds of teachers put into limbo status (known as Absent Teacher Reserve) when there are no jobs for them.
3. Loss of seniority transfer, forcing more experienced and higher-paid teachers to have to compete with younger and cheaper teachers for jobs under new budgeting rules.
4. Numerous school closings that dislocate at least half of the faculty of the school.
Add to this two massive school reorganizations in four years and you have the recipe for putting the NYC school community in a state of shock.
Naomi Klein says the resistance to such shock treatment is to gain information about what is happening to you and why, then pass it on.