Thursday, March 03, 2011

Thank you Matt Damon! Let's replace RTTT with the Zinn Education Project

"...[T]he person who wants bold changes in the way our society is going is not going to find them represented by either the Democratic or Republican candidates, and that's still true with Obama and McCain." — Howard Zinn

The late Dr. Howard Zinn and Matt Damon speaking truth to power
Hollywood luminary and social justice minded Matt Damon is quoted in the Huffington Post saying some very profound things about this administration's corporate neoliberal education "reform" policies:

"He's [Obama] doubled down on a lot of things, going back to education... the idea that we're testing kids and we're tying teachers salaries to how kids are performing on tests, that kind of mechanized thinking has nothing to do with higher order. We're training them, not teaching them." — Matt Damon

Many HuffPost liberals and a handful of like minded teabaggers were quick to assail Damon with hackneyed "why don't you stick with acting" attacks. What Damon's detractors don't realize is that he is, on average, far better educated than many of them. Moreover, his long friendship and collaborative works with celebrated historian, author, and social justice advocate, the late Professor Howard Zinn, demonstrates that Damon had one of the best political mentors around, who taught him to speak truth to power. Every HufffPost reader defending President Obama's policies by telling Damon that he should understand that politics is about "realism" and "compromise," is providing political cover for neoliberalism and privatization. They're doing the reactionary right wing's job for them by not standing against Obama and Duncan's deplorable Shock Doctrine education policies.

Here are my comments as they appeared on the HuffPost:

Kudos Mr. Damon. Glad to see more people calling out the president's reactionary education policies. In essence RTTT goes further than NCLB in terms of unwarranted testing in that it embraces and encourages widespread privatization via charter-voucher schools. There is nothing progressive about policies that Rand or Friedman would have espoused, policies that use words like competition, market solutions, and choice — all highly discredited ideas at that.

Before anyone defends these policies, let them ponder this. How progressive are this administration's education policies when they are universally lauded by the likes of AEI, Cato, Heritage, Hoover, Hudson, and all the other extreme right wing think tanks? I would be very concerned about my politics if I found the Birchers were agreeing with me.

I unequivocally support Matt Damon's criticisms of this administration, and especially, its education policies. All progressives should. Instead of the highly discredited corporate "edreform" policies like No Child Left Behind and Race To The Top, let's ditch high stakes standardized tests and make The Zinn Education Project our national curriculum. It would go a long way toward making public education achieve its true potential.

"I'm worried that students will take their obedient place in society and look to become successful cogs in the wheel - let the wheel spin them around as it wants without taking a look at what they're doing. I'm concerned that students not become passive acceptors of the official doctrine that's handed down to them from the White House, the media, textbooks, teachers and preachers" — Howard Zinn

Howard Zinn's many books include his groundbreaking: A People's History of the United States.


1 comment:

Unknown said...

Matt Damon's comments and your elucidation of the context and greater meaning of them should be a beacon of reason for those not as familiar with the issues confronting public education and our future. That it appeared on the Huffington Post is fine, but the comments you posted are as important in understanding as the body of the original piece.