4.10 The institutions of science and education

What might the institutions of science and education look like in a green social democracy with a fully adequate social safety network, including a basic minimum income for all? For a part of the answer we need to look outside the sphere of culture to that of business. With the coming to power of a green social democratic government, one of the first orders of business would be changes in the charters of business enterprises, giving priority over profits to human welfare and environmental protection. These new priorities would become the legal framework for doing business.

Science, as well as technology and financial capital, could be made exclusively available for use in the public interest. As an enterprise, science would normally - or by law even exclusively - be carried out in the public sector, probably at public universities and research institutes. Both private and public sector businesses and service providers could then be licensed to use the products of science and technology for the public good - and for no contrary aim, meaning that, by charter, conservation of nature and responsibility for adding to the quality of human life would trump the earning of profits as their primary responsibilities.

Business owners and managers would be measured by their success in meeting the conditions included in their charters. These would specify their specific responsibilities for environmental stewardship, paying their fair share of taxes and worker compensation, conducting their activities openly and transparently, respecting the dignity and democratic management rights of their employees, improving the quality of life of the society that charters them, and returning to society any capital, financial or otherwise, they have borrowed. Failure to meet these requirements could result in penalties up to and including the withdrawal of the privilege of further business management and ownership rights by the current owners and managers. These are the kinds of measures that are needed to create a society that is just and sustainable and therefore the kind that we can expect green social democratic governments to adopt.

Likewise, all education in a just, sustainable green social democracy (beyond specialized knowledge and skills needed only within a particular business) would be made accessible to all, including being provided for free by the public sector of the economy. One possibility - but certainly not the only one - is that schools could be organized around lead teachers rather than by school buildings or collections of buildings. Cooperation within and between schools in supporting the goal of a just, sustainable society would be expected. At the same time, use is likely to be made of the process of emulating the most successful schools. We have described this elsewhere as a form of competition, but others argue that the undiluted emphasis should be on their cooperation and mutual support. That issue will likely be revisited and can only be resolved when there is the kind of opportunity for experimentation that the ushering in of a green social democracy would create.

In the model of school organization that we envision for a green social democracy, in schools for students under the age of majority, lead teachers and their staffs would be made directly accountable to the parents of the students and elected community representatives. Forms of mutual accountability of schools, parents and the community for the education of students might include public presentation by schools, teachers and students of the products of the work of the students, the methods of teaching and student performances. Undertaken at publicly open community events, those within the immediate community with the most vital interest in the outcomes of education would thus have the opportunity to come together. While current methods of communication and cooperation of the concerned parties could continue, hopefully in a more fully democratic and inclusive manner than is yet the case, the authors envision that new methods like those outlined here will be considered and tried out.

The kind of public presentations and meetings suggested here (reflecting the authors' own combined seventy years of experience as educators, including the organization of school-community events with some of the features of those proposed here) could be an opportunity for the public to assess the success of the school in stimulating the imagination of the students and developing their scientific knowledge, science process skills, and their artistic, communication and mathematical abilities as well as meeting other curricular objectives. It could also be an opportunity for teachers to discuss their curriculum and teaching practices for critical feedback and ultimately for the emergence of consensus and mutual support between teachers, students, parents and the community.

In cases of persistent lack of success by the school in meeting community expectations, the school, as redefined here, could be disbanded at the end of a school year with a new one created at the same location for the following year. The new one might include a new lead teacher (a position that would normally rotate periodically in any case) and some substitutions in the teaching staff might be made, with those teachers not included transferred to other jobs in the educational system or released for other employment, if they so choose. In a cooperative, mutually supportive green social democracy this would most likely be the best alternative for all concerned. Of course, green social democratic communities might find better solutions to the need for school-community mutual accountability and for workforce mobility in the face of occasional employment mismatches.

We write about green social democracy having in mind that we are describing a transition period in history. It may, of course, develop that in a green social democracy of the future such mismatches between the needs of children and the capacities of the adults entrusted with their care would become rare or non-existent events. That, however, is difficult for the authors to envision for the near term. After a lifetime within capitalism, first as children and students ourselves, then educators, parents and now grandparents, we anticipate the need for a means of accountability of educators, including the removal of those who might otherwise do damage to themselves and their students, most egregiously in the case of children.

Our intention, though, is not to fault those who were our teachers and the thousands of colleagues we worked with in the field of education. Most were and are highly dedicated professionals. Some were and are as close to saints as human beings can be. But the few we encountered who did great harm to their students were not immediately aided in finding other occupations. Unfortunately, most were given many years of opportunity to inflict their frustration and anger on those in their care. This is a reality that our readers no doubt are familiar with. Our conclusion, though, is that this practice will continue at least as long as we have a capitalist ruling class whose priorities are profit-taking, not the welfare of people. This is reason enough, we believe, to move beyond capitalism – and to do so as if the future of our children and grandchildren depended on it. Because it does.

Welcome!

This website was launched September 1, 2010 in support of a green social democratic alternative to neoliberal capitalist policy and practice. The primary result is a work by Charles and Karen McFadden of seven chapters, grouped under the title, Towards a Green Social Democratic Alternative to Capitalism available here in pdf and html formats.

Below under the heading What’s New can be found the most recent materials posted on this website, including opinion pieces, book reviews, articles and selections from the 2017 edition of the main work.  For the interest of new and returning visitors, new materials will be included quarterly.

What's New

NEW & REVISED

Authors' Preface

1.6 The epochal nature of the period we are entering

6.0 The socialism we need against the "socialism" of the 20th century

6.8 Additional concerns about 20th century variants of "socialism"

6.9 The people united!

7.1 Policy alternatives and political movements to advance them

OPINION

Charles and Karen McFadden, Is revolutionary transformation on the agenda

Charles and Karen McFaddenHumanity on the Brink

Charles and Karen McFaddenMovements of Resistance to Movements for System Change

Charles McFaddenTranslating Green Principles into Education Policy and Practice

Charles and Karen McFadden, The Role of Revolutionaries in the Labor Movement

REVIEWS

Charles McFadden, The People United for a More Just Sustainable Future

Karen and Charles McFaddenCan emergent early 21st century neo-fascism be defeated without coming to grips with late 20th century restructuring of capitalism into a global system

Karen and Charles McFaddenA Dominant Capitalism or a Sustainable Environment? Why we can't have both.

US CORNER

William I. RobinsonThe Crisis of Global Capitalism and Trump's March to War

William I. RobinsonTrumpism, 21st Century Fascism, and the Dictatorship of the Transnational Capitalist Class

CANADA CORNER

George HewisonWINNIPEG 1919 & THE COLD WAR

George HewisonArt Manuel - "Unsettling Canada

George HewisonThe NDP and LEAP

RECOMMENDED

Albert Einstein, David Swanson, Jill Stein, Chris Hedges, William I. Robinson, and others Selected articles for Winter 2018

FEATURED WORK

ECONOMICS

1.7 The dynamics of capitalism as a system and the limits of single issue reforms

2.11 The economy in transition towards a new deal for labor and the community

3.1 The challenge of a moribund economic system

3.7 Public banking: A cornerstone of a green social democracy

4.7 Economics and culture

6.5 Using the non-market economy as an opportunity to begin moving beyond capitalism

HISTORY

1.6 The epochal nature of the period we are entering

2.0 Theoretical Perspective: Defining Green Social Democracy

2.5. Socialism and green social democracy in historical materialist theory

4.3 Culture in historical perspective

5.1 Contrasting a green social democratic world with the currently prevailing, but challenged neo-liberal one

6.2 Socialism and capitalism as coexisting social systems

LABOR

2.11 The economy in transition towards a new deal for labor and the community

5.7 Defeating neo-liberal capitalism: The role of social movements

7.3 Justice: Creating a just society, based on the right of all to a dignified, secure existence

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) applies to all work posted on this website except that which appears with authors whose last name is other than McFadden, in which case standard copyright should be assumed to apply.