Thursday, October 21, 2010

Advocating Public Education Roundup 10W42 - Commentopia

‎"Washing one's hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral. " — Paulo Freire

Keep the PUBLIC in public schools
Alfie Kohn's How to Sell Conservatism: Lesson 1 -- Pretend You're a Reformer really calls out how manipulative and crafty the so called "education reform" crowd is. Here's an excerpt:

School reform, as these people understand it, and as I've discussed in a previous post, involves a relentless regimen of standardized testing; a push to direct funds to charter schools, many of them run by for-profit corporations; a weakening of teachers' job protection -- and the vilification of unions that represent teachers -- so that those who have failed to raise their students' test scores can be publicly humiliated or fired; threats to shut down low-scoring schools; initiatives to dangle money in front of teachers who follow orders and raise scores, or even in front of certain (low-income) students; and a contest for funding in which only (some) states willing to adopt this bribe-and-threat agenda will receive desperately needed federal money.

Here are the comments I posted under Kohn's article:

An outstandingly cogent analysis of how the so called edreform crowd implicitly supports the status quo.

In a recent exchange of polemics with one of Los Angeles' more wealthy Charter Management Organization CEOs, I was accused of "defending the status quo." I replied that for decades I've supported community controlled schools in contrast to the bureaucratic model (large districts) or the corporate model (charter-voucher). I then said "how is that a defense of the status quo?" There was no response. Frankly, the so called reform crowd is terrified of anyone that challenges the real "status quo."

This is why Arizona's Tom Horne has banned ethnic studies with AB 2281 and is trying to ban Paulo Freire! This is why Texas textbooks have become synonymous with fairy tale compilations. This is why Green Dot Public [sic] Schools was caught requiring their students to "demonstrate a belief in the value of capitalism." [1] This is why art, music, and bilingual programs have given way to what you astutely called "glorified test-prep centers."

I would go even further than saying the current crop of charlatans claiming the mantle of reform are defending the status quo, I'd say in many cases they pine for a return to 19th century pedagogical practices (at least for working class children).


Sherry Wolf posted a great video in her post Teachers Fight Back vs. Superman movie on her SHERRYTALKSBACK blog.

I had the following comments:

Thanks so much for posting this Sherry. I take on Davis Guggenheim's embrace of the banking system of education in his charter-voucher informercial in my recent post Some thoughts on Rick Ayers' "An Inconvenient Superman".

Last night Dr. Diane Ravitch called Guggenheim's privatization propaganda piece a "pernicious movie."

I'm very excited about the pending release of The Inconvenient Truth About Waiting for Superman.

Patrick Goldstein's piece in the Los Angeles Times How did 'Waiting for 'Superman's' ' Davis Guggenheim become the right wing's favorite liberal filmmaker? states the obvious, but I couldn't let it go at that. Here's my response:

Davis Guggenheim is now the toast of The Cato Institute, Reason Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, American Enterprise Institute, The John Birch Society, The Hoover Institution, The Hudson Institute, and a whole host of reactionary right wing organizations.

It's great to know that the same failed economic principles that gave us the dot com crash, the housing market crises, and the current great recession are being proffered as solutions for our publicly funded schools. Who better than the slick, unscrupulous, hipster Guggenheim to try and sell us thoroughly discredited 'free market' ideology in the guise of reform.

While charter-voucher scandals [1] are a dime a dozen, and charter schools discriminate against the most needy of students, at least Guggenheim can rest assured that his well heeled executive friends in the corporate CMO/EMO charter-voucher industry are making a killing.


Of course, Kenneth Libby of Schools Matter does a much better job at revealing just who Davis Guggenheim's far right funders really are and their reactionary agendas. Philip Anschutz and Walden Media: What Kind of Agenda? reveals such a frighting list of extremists, it gave me chills.

Lastly, the vile Jill Stewart of that trashy masseuse and porn ad pennysaver also known as The LA Weekly ran another pro-privatization screed.

Stewart wouldn't post my comments in response to her bizare stream of illogical thoughts. However, 4lakids Scott Folsom reprinted Stewart's piece and my response to it. Here are my comments:

Another school privatization cheerleading piece by right wing reactionary Jill Stewart? Corporate charlatan Yolie Flores-Aguilar isn't just an "UTLA enemy" but an enemy of all those in favor of public education. Just how is the Gates foundation employee, who has spent her entire career serving corporate interests like those of the lucrative charter-voucher sector, a "advocate of the poor?" Flores has never done anything for our communities, other than hand public property over to private institutions. Yolie Flores is a corporation in the disguise of a human being.

I know that Randites like Stewart conflate reform with privatization, but the rest us are astute enough to see through such craftiness.

Zimmer, who is no real friend of the hard working women and men who teach our children, would hardly have lost against the Beverly Hills Barrister Ben Austin. The well heeled corporate spokesman Austin is a charlatan of the highest order. He is also an unabashed racist. Outside of the 501c3 groups funded by the Waltons, Broad, and Gates Foundations, Austin is a pariah. For more on Austin see:

Jill Stewart should do us all a favor and read about pedagogy before subjecting us to more of her fact free rants. We appreciate that Stewart is making money off the charter-voucher sector, like her idol Yolie Flores. Flores isn't running because she is despised by the vast majority of her constituents in her district. Nobody is surprised that she was hired by a foundation started by a convicted predatory monopolist, she was working for the billionaire boys club long before that anyway.

I'd accuse The LA Weekly's Beth Barrett and Jill Stewart of yellow journalism, but you have to be able to write to be a journalist. Let's never forget that Jill Stewart's prose wouldn't be worthy of a disinterested high school sophomore. Maybe it's her own shortcomings combined with her John Birch Society ideology that fuel her inexhaustible hatred of teachers.


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