Monday, April 16, 2012

Move Along! Nothing to See here!

I am close to the edge! And from here the picture is perfectly clear.

The American public system of education is being systematically, and purposely destroyed. This is not a statement from someone who routinely sees crop circles. I am a teacher and I see it clearly--just like Diane Ravitch, Linda Darling Hammond, Nancy Flanagan, Valerie Strauss, Anthony Cody, Stephen Krashen, Susan Ohanian, Mike Klonsky, Jesse Turner, Mark Naison, Alfie Kohn, Marion Brady, Parents Across America, United Opt Out National, Save Our Schools, Children are More than Test Scores, Fair Test and a host of other individuals and groups.

However, I feel like we are in the middle of a crime scene surrounded by yellow tape and the "liberal media" is standing on the outside with a bull horn announcing, "Move along!" "Nothing to see here!" 


This is the biggest story in the last 100 years (the death of public education) and the only media attention it gets is typically dismissive of the voices screaming for help. Or it receives media attention that continues to push the corporate reform narrative. For example, big mouth Chris Christie got his arrogant butt on MSNBC (Morning Joe) last week by "straight talking" about the need for education reform and how he will not back down even if it costs him his office. And what did he say? Of course he is "fighting for the kids of New Jersey." Really? Do the kids of New Jersey have a clue what will happen to them when Christie is done pushing his corporate reform agenda?

Every policy that he supports has been thoroughly dismissed by research. Choice does not work. Charters don't help. Competition creates harsh learning climates. Pay for performance doesn't work. Teach for America does nothing. Using test scores to promote or fire teachers is a deeply flawed statistical procedure. Destroying the working conditions of teachers actually creates environments that hinder learning. In other words, Chris Christie's support for the kids of New Jersey will actually harm them and he is perfectly willing to risk his office on this platform. How is this possible? 

Because, after he made the comment, MSNBC did not dissect any of his positions on education policy. Instead, MSNBC used the clip to demonstrate that as a "straight talker," Christie is popular because he is willing to take a stand and, get this, more people would "like to have beer with him." Again WTF?

Is this all the "liberal media" is capable of doing? This guy and a bunch of others (Arne Duncan, Andrew Cuomo, Rahm Emanuel, Rick Scott, Scott Walker, Tom Corbett, Michelle Rhee and the rest of the clown car called corporate education reform) are actually advocating for the privatization of the American public school system. A system that is supposed to deliver a free and equitable education to all children regardless of background, socioeconomic status, or zip code. A system dedicated to promoting democracy and citizen participation in the government by educating the masses. Christie and all the other idiots are selling out America's public schools and all the "liberal media" can do is comment on how many people would like to have a beer with him?

Mainstream "liberal media" (Shultz, Maddow, O'Donnell, etc.) why are you letting this happen? The corporate reform agenda does not have a single, semi-solid leg to stand on when it claims to be able to help America's most vulnerable (children). The evidence is right in front of your eyes. How about changing your tune? As people walk past the yellow ribbon around the crime scene that is us, the screaming "status quo" advocates for public schools and the children that attend them. Use your bullhorn and try this... 

DO NOT MOVE ALONG! THERE IS SOMETHING TO SEE HERE! These people are trying to save the American system of public education. You might want to listen to what they have to say. 

And if you do this I'll gladly have a beer with you.


  1. Let's be fair: the American system of compulsory public education was designed to produce compliant factory workers for the profit of corporatists and industrialists. The give back to the American worker was the "middle class lifestyle." In the 1960s, the corporatists and industrialists decided that they wanted to effectively double the productivity of their workforce, and putting women to work was a good way to do it. Now the American "middle class lifestyle" required two workers instead of one. Great deal for everybody. The concept of “middle class” expanded, more "education” was needed, more child care was needed, and public schools thrived. There was a brief period between the entrance of women into the workforce and the Reagan Revolution in the 1980s where public education wasn't watched too closely and some egalitarian ideas slipped in. It was a very brief period – maybe 20 years. It was an aberration.

    Today, the factory jobs have been shipped elsewhere, there are too many people and not enough jobs, and the definition of the “middle class lifestyle” has grown to comic proportions. For nearly 100 years, the corporatists and industrialists have watched Taylorism increase their profitability in every sphere of human endeavor – except education – and they're ready for it to work there, too. McDonald's isn't a metaphor; it's a shining example! The reformers truly are the ones “saving” American public education - as it was always designed, not as some of us wish to envision it.

    Do you really want to save pubic education, or redefine it? Renegotiating American public education means renegotiating the American “middle class lifestyle.” I notice few teacher or anybody else voluntarily offering to give up anything; better to hunker down, hold on to what's “mine” and hope that somebody else gets left behind. The industrialists and corporatists – and government bureaucrats – are there to encourage you to hold on to your dreams; support the reformers, and some of you will be spared.

    The trends suggest that a great many teachers are going to get left behind regardless.

  2. I think Gary has made a point that bears paying attention to and considering in some depth.

    First, why does anyone expect anything of any "news" or entertainment outlet? It seems silly to put your faith in any of these "truth tellers." Further, take a hard look at your list of education gurus and you will find the stake a claim on either side of the fence frequently enough. These are professional writers in academic education and their job is to, well, have a job.

    And there's the rub. Our world is full of positioning for mammon. That's it. Emerson wrote many moons ago in "Circles" that we would need to rise into a new idea if we were to "reform" anything. We have gone endless rounds inside wealth accumulation. Our systems and institutions serve an economic system. Period.

    So, as Gary says, what will you make instead?

    Thoreau heads for the pond in order to think and be outside this round. His only live outside that circle of consumption and trade. Initially his mind was on publishing--coming to account as it were--but he changed and "essayed" his living in his journal and made it his truest purpose to be "Man Thinking" and "Man Observing."

    We cannot teach inside the box provided by capital institutions unless we intend to teach the lessons of those institutions.

    What shall we make? Shall we promote possibility or simply seek the comfort of the "once upon a time" status quo?

  3. Excellent post Tim. Hey we need the Rocking Opt Out Team in DC this August at SOS's The People's Education Convention.

  4. Tim,
    I'll never forget when Michelle Rhee was on Anderson Cooper, being hailed as an "innovative person". His only question was, "What three things can you not live without?"
    I believe her answer was 1. Mayor Fenty, 2. food and 3. her cell phone?? It's been awhile, so not sure of the exact response. Anyway, the point I'm making, is there were no questions about anything of substance...not even about the possible cheating scandals in D. C.
    This was one of my defining "moments", when I knew we were in BIG trouble, and that she was part of a greater plan. When an individual gets that kind of "protection" or treatment from the media, something's up. It couldn't be more obvious that she wasn't just an innovative person who came up with something on her own, but was in fact a puppet of the interconnected corporations that control our news.
    Anderson Cooper is suppose to be a more liberal journalist. The idea of a "liberal news media" is one of the greatest myths of our time....without this myth, they would never get away with privatizing our schools.
    Our news media is like a standardized test. Choose A, B, or C, no other options.
    Just as reporters are no longer free to work for the good of the public, now teachers no longer free to work for the public, and with it our children. We all labor for Pearson and Gates, and the rest of the 1%.

  5. Tim,

    Smart post, and incredibly smart comments to follow. I've shared this post with as many as I could.

    We have an obedience problem, especially at the general education teacher level, as Valiant alludes to at the end of his post. The media won't take notice until enough people are calling attention to it. Like you are.

    1. Thanks for the props Horace. Huff Post "passed" on this blog post.

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  7. Great post. It is astonishing that despite the research and the parent and community opposition to corporate school reform, all the mainstream media outlets are promoting it. Bill Gates owns MSNBC, so we're not likely to hear much truth from that station. Then there's Rupert Murdoch who is now former NYC Schools Chancellor Joel Klein's boss. Our only hope is social media, word of moth, and sustained grassroots actions.