Send In the Clown (Don’t Bother, He’s Here.)

May 1, 2011

So, Chris Christie, the grotesques Governor of New Jersey,   visits Harvard Graduate School of Education and is embraced as one their own.

If nothing else, the friendly reception that this vicious vulgar clown received from grad students and staff at this pinnacle of higher education provides yet another clear example of how thoroughly and mindlessly liberal institutions have abandoned and betrayed the working people of this country, and how completely and uncritically they have embraced the suicidal, neo-fascist policies of the corporate state.

Central to those polices is the total destruction of labor unions and with them, worker rights. Central to the total destruction of labor unions is the total destruction of America’s teacher unions.

Christie’s reception by these students  is especially disturbing because of the fact that their Harvard degrees and the built-in old boy and old gal networks that such degrees provide will just about guarantee these very students  will be “fast tracked” into positions of influence and power —   that much faster  if they’re singing corporate hymns.

Christie and the Harvard Graduate School of Education dwell, apparently in an enviously untroubled, strangely one dimensional and curiously microscopic world.   It is a world blissfully unaware of the effects of the greatest disparity in wealth and poverty in the industrialized world – even as they further the disparity.    It is a world blissfully unperturbed by living in a nation with  the highest rate of incarceration on earth.  It is a world in which, as I write, American soldiers are killing and being killed to bring “democracy” to three countries on the other side of the world while in America collective bargaining rights have been outlawed in state after state  while  an entire municipality in Michigan has been stripped of all democratically elected officials and replaced by an overlord called a manager.

It is a happy, well fed, unconscious and most of all secure world  in which the likes of Chris Christie can make the following statement and the graduate students of Harvard School of Education applaud.

Mr. Christie’s first ovation came when he said, “The reason I’m engaging in this battle with the teachers’ union is because it’s the only fight worth having.”

Appropriate for an age in which politics are dominated and wholly perverted by public relations, the sole objection to Christie’s full frontal assault on teachers in a  school system that  until very recently was considered a point of pride for the citizens of New Jersey and, indeed the nation, was a matter, not of Christie’s policies, but his style. 

The closest thing to a hostile question Mr. Christie faced came after he embraced the title bestowed on him recently by The New York Times Magazine: The Disrupter. Jenny Hanson, a graduate student in education, told him that she liked his ideas, but added, “I think using language like ‘disrupter’ and ‘battle’ and ‘fight’ could prevent buy-in.”

Preventing  “buy-in ”, of course,  is the debased language of marketing which  in some sick way  is  appropriate diction for  a Harvard grad student of Education besotted by the profound thoughts of Chris Christie.

But, true to form, the heroic Christie stood his ground.

But he said he would not change his tone until the teachers’ union, the New Jersey Education Association, agreed that schools are in crisis and showed more willingness to make major changes.

“I have to convince the public that the house is on fire,” he said.

Revealingly, not a single graduate student at this elite university thought to ask this man why a people whose house was on fire would have to be convinced of it.

So, therein the ranks of hedge fund monsters, manipulative and ignorant billionaires, former governors, present governors, former presidents, and  a current president,  all battling the demonic teachers who are ruining the country is, it appears, the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Here is where the liberal mandarin class and the Tea Party meet.

Here is where the American elite   congratulates each other on their simplistic, unsustainable, and destructive plans for the lower orders: us.

Here is where we stand on May Day 2011.

We have no allies except ourselves.

We have no one in our corner except each other.

Send in the clowns.

Don’t bother they are everywhere.

Addendum:  For more on Harvard’s relationship to labor read Michael Fiorillo’s excellent piece, Ivy League Union Busting, then and Now at  http://ednotesonline.blogspot.com/2010/09/michael-fiorillo-at-nyc-educator-blog.html

April 29, 2011

Harvard Gives Christie’s Education Plans a Warm Welcome

By RICHARD PÉREZ-PEÑA

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Conservatives may see Harvard as the heart of liberal darkness, but on Friday it gave a warm, even enthusiastic reception to Gov. Chris Christie and his ideas on education overhaul.

Speaking to almost 200 students and staff members at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the New Jersey governor drew rounds of applause with his talk of sharply limiting teacher tenure, rigorously evaluating teachers and administrators, curbing the power of teachers’ unions and pledging to appoint more-conservative justices to the State Supreme Court.

Mr. Christie’s first ovation came when he said, “The reason I’m engaging in this battle with the teachers’ union is because it’s the only fight worth having.”

The ground he covered would be familiar to anyone who has watched the town hall-style forums in New Jersey that have made Mr. Christie a YouTube star. There, at least a few detractors usually show up to question him, and his policies and pugnacious statements can make even some supporters uncomfortable.

But here, during Mr. Christie’s 40-minute opening talk and a question-and-answer session of the same length, the response was less

equivocal.

“I came away very encouraged, and I admire him for saying things that might be unpopular,” said Matt Shiraki, 26, a graduate student at the Kennedy School of Government.

The closest thing to a hostile question Mr. Christie faced came after he embraced the title bestowed on him recently by The New York Times Magazine: The Disrupter. Jenny Hanson, a graduate student in education, told him that she liked his ideas, but added, “I think using language like ‘disrupter’ and ‘battle’ and ‘fight’ could prevent buy-in.”

Mr. Christie, uncharacteristically, said he often thought about — and “struggled a lot” with — the notion that he is too combative, his language too harsh.

But he said he would not change his tone until the teachers’ union, the New Jersey Education Association, agreed that schools

are in crisis and showed more willingness to make major changes.

“I have to convince the public that the house is on fire,” he said.

The friendly response here could reflect concerns about the state of American schools among those who study and may someday run them. It parallels opinion poll findings that Mr. Christie is more popular around the country than he is back home. And, of course, the a

udience was a self-selected one, turning out for a visiting Republican governor best known for videos in which he publicly berates people.

Still, many of those applauding him described themselves in interviews afterward as politically liberal. Any objections they raised tended to be technical rather than philosophical — like how, not whether, to evaluate teachers.

The tone of the session was polite and subdued, and the questions alternately supportive and wonkish. More than usual, Mr. Christie stayed away from incendiary language, though toward the end he loosened up and opened fire on the teachers’ union (“a political thuggery operation”).

He broke some new ground in saying that he planned to change New Jersey’s system of elected local school boards, though he did not say how. The teachers’ union is a powerful force in electing board members, and it is those boards that have approved contracts with the benefits and job protections the governor reviles.

“They’ll be the next step,” he said. “Even for me there’s just so much you can swallow at one time.”

Mr. Christie said that when he told his young son, Patrick, that he was traveling to Harvard, the boy replied, “You don’t go there, do you?”

A graduate of the University of Delaware and the Seton Hall University School of Law, the governor quipped that it had taken him 30 years to get here. But he also reflected on the stature of Harvard and the influence the audience would have.

“You are among the leaders of our educational future,” he said, “and if you’re not disrupted yet, I’m going to disrupt you now.”

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One Response to “Send In the Clown (Don’t Bother, He’s Here.)”

  1. Michael Fiorillo Says:

    raginghorse,

    Thanks for the link to my article.; it seems to hold up pretty well in view of the anti-labor training these young edupreneurs are getting.

    The Ivy League schools also have a long history of aggressive behavior toward the communities where they are located. Anyone who thinks there is anything “liberal” about these institutions should disabuse themselves of that.

    As for NYC public school teachers, the default response to any of them intruding into your school should be shunning and non-cooperation, to the extent possible.


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