Thinking Inside The Box

Can our public school system be innovated from an educational system to an indoctrination system? Or is that oxymoronic?


Susan Mackenzie Andersen

a year ago | 13 min read

Can our public school system be innovated from an educational system to an indoctrination system? Or is that oxymoronic?

Manny Moreno Unsplash

Report from Boothbay Peninsula, Maine;

Re Proposed 100 million dollars high school advanced by anonymous donor funding process:

In my last post, I wrote about the school promotion video Building Project Overview in which Superintendent. Kahler says “Our goal is to complement not to compete” and then talks about becoming a satellite of an unidentified regional technical and education center, setting the tone with marine trades and outdoor leadership courses, followed by “ we also want to increase community access while maintaining security”.

Do the proponents of the 100 million dollar school want to increase open access to their facilities as a local school or do they want to increase controlled access as a state corporation? The Maine educational system seems to be in an identity crisis. It doesn’t know what it is anymore.

Beyond being generally included in marine trades and outdoor activities, there is no thought of the effect on the local community of innovating our public high school into an industrial training center as I first thought Mr. Kahler’s comment intended but upon further reflection, I now understand Mr. Kahler’s context to be contained within the box of the State's centrally managed economy and our local community is outside of the box, and from inside the box what is outside the box cannot be seen.

The planners of the public school system are envisioning an industrial training center, another among many that the State has established except that now the State is no longer creating the tech center in addition to the pre-existing culture, now the corporate state is erasing the historical cultural values of local communities to be consistent with those of Maine State Inc, a process that the Legislature calls “innovation”, meaning no rules to confine the innovating Legislature and school officials such as those found in pesky State Constitutions.

A few years ago it was popular for Coulombe supporters to proclaim that those opposing them opposed all change as new developers bulldozed over one local landmark after another. Now the proponents of the 100 million dollar school talk of an industrial marine school and outdoor leadership courses while opposing a Working Water Front Park and the selectmen have a long history of closing down small entrepreneurs including Simson’s Shipyard.

The new breed of developers circling around Mr. Coulombe’s wealth ignores the established lead and knowledge of our Land Trust in using environmentally friendly dirt parking lots in preserves where the public can walk through natural woods rather than overly cultivated landscapes.

The cult of the new treats the Peninsula as their own blank slate to do with as it suits themselves.

Might over right

The new Clifford Park was funded by Paul Coulombe in a matching fund with a federal land and water environmental protection grant. A younger children’s playground once ensconced in a natural field a good distance from the road was displaced by a baseball field and relocated to the side of the public road making for a classic introductory class on how bullying big kids (big-money) can take over the little kids’ territory.

Robert Collins on Unsplash

The existing dirt parking lot was paved with asphalt, known to increase phosphorus runoff, and a new and larger asphalt parking lot and many asphalt walks and driveways were installed all across Clifford Park, sitting almost on the edge of Adams Pond, the Peninsula’s main water supply that has been on the state’s list of water supplies endangered by further development since the 1980s.

DEP’s most recent 2019 assessment of Adams Pond and Knickerbocker Lake shows both remain “Threatened” after consideration of several factors, including water quality, sensitivity to additional phosphorus pollution, and the threat of development in their watersheds. Boothbay Region Water District

The same local leadership group that supported the asphalttification of Clifford Park wants to replace our public school system with an industrial training center as supported by state statutes incrementally enacted over the last half a century that have been instituting private corporate agendas and displacing the constitutional State of Maine since, in 1976, when the Maine Legislature declared that centrally managing the economy is an essential government function that must be done by public-private relationships, without asking for public consent, whereupon and thereafter the wealth divide expanded to become today’s ownership class-working class divide.

How might our economy and culture have evolved then if the then fastest growing small business economy in the USA had not been subjugated to central management which works through benefiting the largest corporations over the whole of the economy? Is it any wonder that such policies escalated first into the wealth divide and then into the ownership divide?

In 1993 public funding was redistributed to build “quality centers” in the community college system equipped with state-of-the-art means of production to be used as facilities for training adult students to work in the targeted sector industries.

In 2011 more taxpayer funding was distributed to build communal Tech Places, industry centers with more state-of-the-art facilities designed to attract start-up companies with communal environments with shared facilities and administration.

In 2013 The Industrial Partnerships Act empowered the state to manage relationships between private industries in the state and to repurpose public schools as industrial training centers.

In 2015 the Put ME to Work bill was proposed but failed. LD 1373 was promoted in the media as a scholarship fund but only 25 % of it was allocated to scholarships, As I wrote in 2015, Here65% of the funding was allocated as a matching fund for the private corporation which is having their job training financed by the Maine taxpayer and ever so generously has offered to cover half the cost of their own job training expenses! The private corporation can afford to highly compensate their employees but not to train them-perhaps there is a relationship between those two conditions? The remaining 10% of the proposed bill was allocated to one new executive position for the Maine Development Corporation.

In April of 2022 LD1845 An Act To Amend the Education Statutes implemented a similar model of workforce training in the secondary, middle, and high school public educational system, with plans to reinvent public schools as research facilities emulating the University of Maine.

My family business, Andersen Design, located on the Boothbay Peninsula in 1952 is a research and development company. I hope I will find a way to re-establish its facilities someday. Our industry goes unrecognized by local and state leaders because ceramics are not on the state’s targeted sector list. The Department of Rural Economic Development said they did not know if ceramics is a rural industry, which would be flabbergasting, were I not so used to the narrow-minded vision inherent in the concept of a targeted sector in which what exists outside of the State’s targeted sector is not acknowledged as existing and so can neither complement or compete with the box. It’s called thinking inside the box.

Our business designed everything we made including the glazes and the body. I cannot imagine doing this kind of research in an open environment, such as one traditionally thinks of a school, where anyone can walk in and mess with one’s work. This is just a simple example of what is wrong with the concept of transforming a public facility into a research center, which requires privacy and control over the environment. Either a facility is going to be run as an open publicly available facility or as a private enterprise (the way the University of Maine runs its publicly funded facilities- according to their intellectual property ownership policies). Local and state leaders have never shown any interest in what Andersen Design does but on more than one occasion a well-intended bureaucrat has told me that I could get help from a tech center, seemingly unaware that ceramics is a specific kind of technology and not one to be found in the State’s tech centers. I felt as if the persons advising me felt proud of the tech centers but had no understanding of what we do.

Outside the box, Andersen Design is recognized as an innovator in our field and continues that tradition today with an alternate ownership paradigm proposal to the corporate state’s ownership class-working-class divide ownership paradigm.

Each tech place has to establish a relationship with an academic institution, which links it to the University of Maine where the State University claims intellectual property ownership over any projects taking place within its facilities.

5.  Relationship with academic institution.  A technology center shall establish a relationship with at least one academic institution in this State. The Department of Economic and Community Development shall establish guidelines for such a relationship and determine whether a technology center has met the requirements of this subsection.  

[PL 2011, c. 691, Pt. C, §4 (NEW).]

Whether or not the claim of intellectual property ownership applied to start-up communes, I cannot say. It would seem likely that anyone in a startup would seek to protect their intellectual property rights, whereas students may be less cautious and unsuspecting that their educational facility was set up to claim ownership of the fruits of their creative endeavors.

The idea is the same as the statement in LD1845 An Act To Amend the Education Statutes that public schools will partner with the state which partners with private industry. It’s the ownership paradigm that we aren’t supposed to speak about. Under central management, the wealth divide flourished and became the ownership-class working-class divide that became the housing shortage that became the homelessness problem and now central management is here to solve the housing shortage with corporate-owned densely-packed half-sized single-family home developments.

All of the tech places, half businesses, half schools, are of a singular ownership paradigm, which is defined by the centralized economy as the instrumentality of the wealth divide, now the ownership-class working-class divide. The ownership class discourages acknowledgment of the ownership problem but the working classes seek an exit from the road to nowhere, having been forced into the position of having nothing left to lose, which is just another word for freedom, as sung by the troubadours of the twentieth century. However, it is also true that those deprived of ownership are slaves, slaves with nothing left to lose, except the rights to the fruits of their creative abilities, which the ownership class is determined to own because innovation is what drives so much business in the twenty-first century.

And so manifests the concept of psychological ownership wherein the aim is to gaslight the worker into identifying as the owner of the enterprise, and this after the workforce is trained since childhood to be nothing more than an instrument of the owners of the means of production pursuant to the current educational philosophy of the Maine Legislature, which writes the rules that all must play by, to the advantage of the state in bed with private industry.

This is the paradigm the 100 million dollar school inhabits- if it is still a one hundred million dollar school, and not yet a two hundred million dollar school. The proponents of the 100 million dollar school and the 36-acre workforce housing concentration zone only negotiate as SC to PC (state corporation to private corporation) and are unaware of what has been taking place within the workforce.

First, there was the side hustle, then the great resignation, then quiet quitting.

Put that all together and the workforce is not in the psychological state to devote their talents of mind to the benefit of the ownership class. The working classes want to use their abilities for their own benefit, to find their own path to ownership since working a job doesn’t do it anymore.

Apparently, it has become the practice within corporate culture to expect the workers to work much longer hours without pay and to be on call at all times. This is something I have been reading about but I do not understand how it came to be that overtime pay does not apply. According to many content providers, a worker is regarded as shirking if they only work the terms for which they were hired. Quiet quitting means doing only as much as the terms of the agreement between the worker and employer provide.

There is no such thing as quiet quitting. It simply means doing the job you’re paid to do. How We Got From Side Hustles to Quiet Quitting Michelle Teheux

The paradigm is just a box and all around it is the sky and the greater world. So let us take Mr. Kahler’s words out of the box. How would the school look if it complemented and did not compete with (or delete) its own context?

If the school were a traditional school, there is no reason for it to be so large. because there is no reason for a secondary, middle, and high school system to function as an industrial training center. Industrial training centers are for a different purpose than a public school system in which in the twentieth-century tradition, childhood and young adulthood are a time of inner development within an environment that exposes the young person to many aspects of civilization’s knowledge.

Amy Humphries on Unsplash

In the traditional system, the person is valued in and of themselves and not as an instrument of some other purpose. The young person may decide quite early on whether he or she wishes to pursue a vocation. If decisive the young person might attend a vocational school, either full-time or for a few classes. A community that hosts a variety of vocational schools is advantageous and if they are all independent and unique, that is even better. More options create the greater possibility that individuals can find a place that suits them and so many diverse systems serves a community better than one central controlled system because the centrally controlled system will try to enforce one worldview overall, even as it praises diversity. The totalitarian system can’t help progressively developing into more of the same.

If an educational system negotiates with a private corporation to train students specifically for its industry for funding, then it ceases to be a public school as it is operating in the interests of a specific private industry. Since the state operates as a public-private relationship, there is no motivation for the legislature to develop educational policies that are fair and just for all.

The estimates for the school began at between $10.8 million and $16.7 million, suggesting that this is what it would cost for a traditional school system that treats the young person as a developing human being and does not aim to provide facilities for private industrial training.

The fact that thereafter the cost rose in unexplained leaps and bounds to $100 million suggests negotiations were made with corporate funders who said they would create a matching fund but demand specific equipment and facilities for training their workers, increasing the cost of the school (see the model in the Jobs For Me Act )Thus we are told that private donors will fund half for a price tag that has increased by far more than half.

Such a school would be more appropriately developed as a private vocational school but there would be no particular reason to locate it on the Peninsula. The cabal is trying to lure corporations to the peninsula with taxpayer-supported job training and workforce housing. As a private vocational school, the plan does not work. Large corporations expect to be taxpayer-subsidized when they locate in a community.

Hypothetically, It is the extended development caused by financial negotiations that transform the student from a person with their own purpose to an instrument of the corporation. Once employed it is then believed that the worker can be psychologically indoctrinated into using the only thing the worker owns, his own talents, in the service of the enterprise that fails to offer the worker a path to ownership and so the worker has other ideas.

And why not listen to the worker when envisioning community development? The worker wants to own his home, at least. The worker no longer trusts the corporate promise and wants to develop more independence. The worker wants to be spending more quality time with family or others which reinforces the worker’s feeling of self-worth.

A working-class development based on businesses in a home would provide a means for affording a home while at the same time answering the needs that are being called out by the working classes. And it would be exciting and stimulating to live in a community of small entrepreneurs doing their own thing. This would give the Peninsuala a unique outside-the-box identity.

I had proposed a Museum of American Designer Craftsmen, a traditional teaching institution, to the head of the JECD but she did not acknowledge that I had presented a proposal, and one that was consistent with the Camoin Plan a plan written for our community by New York Consultants, hired by the JECD for 79,000.00, a sum I could have put into actual and real economic development use! Imagine how such a museum and a business in the home community would work together synergistically! Furthermore, the museum is envisioned as a network of modest-sized museums spread across many communities, also linking communities. Way to go to attract the living breathing independent creative innovative working classes!

(Found in an unpublished blogger post by author) In July 2017, I wrote to Wendy Wolf, spokesperson of the JECD, and requested a copy of the public referendum which had approved the formation of such a council. The response I received stated there was no public referendum involved in this process, and that the JEDC was established by a formal joint agreement between the Select Boards of Boothbay and Boothbay Harbor.  A copy of the jointly approved Economic Development Agreement (EDA) can be obtained from the town office. I requested a copy of the EDA and at this date have not yet received it.  

Let childhood and young adulthood remain a time of wonder and personal growth

The public school should fill the function of a general well-rounded education and so it does not need to be large and filled with expensive industrial-grade equipment requiring high security. A public school should not be replaced by a vocational school or a research institute. Each vocational school or research institution (such as a ceramic glaze and body research facility) should be a separate and unique entity in its own right.

If the Peninsula wants to provide a home for vocational training. let it diversify by supporting many different varieties of small to medium private entities.

The state has declared that public education will be repurposed as industrial job training. If such a large school is placed on the peninsula, it will be used for state purposes. This will radically transform the Peninsula.

If the school is of modest size and ambition, it has a better chance of being used for the purposes of the historical community. If a student wants to follow a direction there should be a path to do so but it should not be decided for the students by the state merely because the state wants a workforce for its own intentions.

There was a time when the state existed to serve the people, not the other way around. A society that treats its young people as wholesome human beings may find that its young people are spontaneously innovative compared to those who are trained pushed and prodded to be innovative.

A system that promotes innovation within the populous allows the psychologically self-possessed individual to flower on his or her own terms.


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Susan Mackenzie Andersen

I grew up in a midcentury cottage industry, Andersen Design of Maine, a ceramic art and design and slip-cast production company operated from our home. Today I am trying to find the ways and means to recreate the production as a laterally structured independent contractors network of makers who own their own facilities. That requires reinventing the system as well as finding my way through the roadblocks of the existing cultural system. Maine, like much of the rest of the world, is run by a hierarchically structured public-private state that has expanded the wealth divide since established in 1976 to what is emerging today as a new ownership class-working class divide. That is why I came to be an independent researcher, concentrating on state economic development policy and related history and contemporary developments.







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