Posts Tagged ‘ALEC’

A Chronicle of Echoes by Mercedes Schneider Reviewed by Patrick Walsh

September 19, 2014

Dr. Martin Luther King: Union Man

January 20, 2014
Striking Sanitation Workers of Memphis in April 1968

Striking Sanitation Workers of Memphis in April 1968

On this day in which we honor the extraordinary and exemplary life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we do well to remember not merely his courage and brilliance, his sublime speeches and prophetic visions, but also how King was completely rooted in practical, day-to-day realities. We do well to remember where he was and what he was doing in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4th 1968 where he encountered death in that peculiar American figure of the Lone Assassin. We do well to remember that this world famous Noble Peace Prize winner went to in Memphis, not once but twice, against the counsel of his advisers to support striking sanitation workers and bring attention to the brutal conditions under which the men toiled and under which one had died only days before.

We do well, that is, to remember that Martin Luther King was no mere dreamer but a visionary completely grounded in reality, completely aware and utterly appalled by what the poor of all races and creeds were up against and why. We do well to remember this for we are unlikely to hear of this aspect of King from the self congratulatory corporate media who please themselves by insinuating that the Dreamer’s Dream has been fulfilled with the election of Barack Obama, even in this time of greater and greater incarceration rates for African Americans and ever expanding and ever deepening poverty for almost all; even in this age in which 1% of the people somehow own 40% of the nation’s wealth and who literally grow richer and richer by the minute; even as these same forces use their limitless fortunes to remake our world in their image.

We do well to remember in this era of ALEC and Citizens United and an ever more naked plutocracy eradicating the remnants of our democracy, that Martin Luther King was a tireless and fearless supporter of unions. He was this because he knew that without unions, the working people who created the wealth of the nation were powerless. He knew too that there was a class of people whose notion of freedom was bound up in possessing the legal right to employ the machinery of the state to keep working people permanently powerless.

King also knew that with unions came economic justice and dignity.
King literally died attempting to bring that struggle to light.
We do well, very well to remember this today.
And every day.

MLK labor

Jeb Bush Is Planting Seeds

August 13, 2013
A "Chief for Change" Speaks

A “Chief for Change” Speaks

Fresh off addressing the American Legislative Exchange Council ( the infamous ALEC, ) former Governor of Florida, friend of President Obama, “Chief For Change”, and non-educator education expert Jeb Bush made an extraordinarily radical and revealing suggestion about the future of teaching in an interview to 89 WLS in Chicago. Bush, calmly displaying his usual oceanic contempt for teachers at the same time that he feigns reverence, repeated much of what have become corporate education reform memes (wholesale identification of learning with standardized test scores, “embracing digital learning” ) and strategies ( merit pay, elimination of due process or tenure. )
In the midst of this, Bush serenely makes the insane suggestion that the teacher certification process be eliminated. In doing so, Bush simultaneously suggests that teaching is a field needing no preparation and is one effectively open to every
( presumably literate ) adult in the United States.

For Bush, the professionalism of teachers is established by their desire to separate themselves from teacher unions and be paid according to their “doing a good job. “
“Doing a good job”, in turn, means a teacher raising the standardized test scores of their students.

It is tempting to dismiss such a reckless and ignorant suggestion as the elimination of certification with a snide comment and a laugh, but such a response, I believe, at this stage of the game would be very much a mistake. Indeed, it would be playing into the hands of those who wish to destroy us.

What is disturbing about suggestions such as the elimination of teacher certification is that there is a very discernable pattern over the last decade of “reformers” putting out suggestions and making claims that then seemed equally absurd and reckless and would have been laughable a short time before only to become horrific realities shortly thereafter. What teacher would have ever predicted the advent of Obama and his reprehensible Race to the Top, now successfully undermining schools and unions from coast to coast? What teacher would have ever predicted that tenure in the city of New York would be effectively nullified by an evaluation plan created and pushed into law by the teachers union? What teacher would have ever predicted the appalling condescension emanating out of the deceitfully named Common Core State Standards? What teacher, in short, has foreseen the chilling combination of military precision and utter ruthlessness on the part of the predator class and its political employees like Cuomo, Emmanuel and Obama, ramming through their once unthinkable agendas with ease ?

Not I.

And yet, all of the above degradations masquerading as reforms begin precisely this way. One figure making a speech here, giving an interview there, writing an editorial over there, and on and on. Consider these actions the planting of seeds in the public consciousness, the first step in the manipulation of perception management. Soon enough a notion vomited out of a grotesquerie like ALEC is repeated ad nauseum and treated as if it arose from the soil. It is then earnestly parroted by the likes of Brian Williams, wept over by Oprah, championed by PBS and NPR, ogled by Thomas Friedman and Nicolas Kristoff, and chanted by members of billionaire created “grass roots” organizations like Educations 4 Excellence, Parent Revolution and Stand For Children and so on.

And such is the way conventional wisdom is manufactured today in the US of A.
Consider the robust debates that never took place over the merits and value of standardized testing, now the central nervous system of America’s entire school system.

“Bush” according to the article that reported the interview, “ said his education plan would also do away with certification processes. He said they make eligibility requirements for teachers too restrictive, Chicago being a prime example.”

What Bush did not say, however, is of even greater import that what he did. Besides an overall disgrace, what would result from the implementation of Bush’s plan of eliminating teacher certification combined with the elimination of due process or tenure ?
There would be an instantaneous exponential increase in the teacher labor pool allowing and even “incentivizing “the wholesale firings of entire teaching staffs as they would be as instantly replaceable as migrant farm workers. This, in turn, would further degrade the public school system and thus disgust parents who would then be offered the alternative of charter schools or perhaps a voucher.
Most importantly, it would eviscerate the solidarity of teachers, which would in turn eviscerate unions.
If the past were indeed prologue, than we would do well to take Bush’s suggestion, as disgusting as it is, with great seriousness. In it one sees, perhaps more transparently than usual, the true, long term underlying intention of education reform: the evisceration of unions and the privatization of the most vital and glorious of all American public institutions, the public school system. This, in turn, is meant as a major step in the radical reconfiguration of labor relations in all fields for all American workers.

These people think in terms of decades.
Americans must understand: Education reform is not about education and it never was.

Following is the interview.