Posts Tagged ‘Dennis Van Roekel’

Bill Gates Continues To Purchase Major Teacher Unions and At Discount Rates

July 3, 2013

“We can either have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.”.

Justice Louis D. Brandeis

Dennis Van Roekel and the NEA,  brought to you by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Dennis Van Roekel and the NEA, brought to you by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Bill Gates, a private citizen of obscene wealth obtained largely through his monopolistic cunning and ruthless hoarding of intellectual property rights, has spent the greater part of the last decade insidiously and extra-legislatively dictating public school policy. Mr. Gates has no experience whatsoever in education. This, however, has not stopped him from gaining infinitely more power over my child’s education than I have and infinitely more power over your child than you have. This power, given to him by spineless politicians across the country but especially by Barack Obama, has allowed Gates to perform foolish experiment after foolish experiment on America’s children and America’s educators. These experiments include but are by no means limited to the deceptively named and privately owned Common Core States Standards and Value Added Metrics for teacher evaluations. They also include Gate’s ideas of students wearing “Galvanic bracelets” to measure something or other and video cameras in every classroom all the time as if teachers, are in fact, criminals. And there are many more including the latest intrusion of the rights of children, the data mining, InBloom. Furthermore, Gates has funded every countless phony anti union “grassroots “ group, ( my favorite the despicable union busting Educators 4 Excellence ) major media public relations campaigns agsinst the public school system like “Waiting For Superman” and NBC’s “Education Nation”. and even “public” institutions such as PBS and NPR, the last two of which have followed his scripts as if they were Gate’s valet. To top it off, Obama’s reprehensible Race To the Top, currently wreaking havoc from sea to shining sea – exactly as it was designed to do — was developed in the bowels of the Gates Foundation.

Without his 6o billion dollars, all of Gate’s fascistic ideas would be greeted with silence or a horselaugh and Mr. Gates would be considered a clown in the unlikely case he would be considered at all. With his 60 billion, Mr. Gates is the unelected, unaccountable Emperor of American Education. That is to say, public education, as Mr. Gates, like virtually all the education reformers, would never dream of subjecting his children or their teachers to the degrading, idiotic and debasing schemes he demands for our kids and their teachers.

Mr. Gates has spent the last decade simultaneously undermining and purchasing teacher unions, particularly the two largest, the National Education Association led by Dennis Roekel and American Federation of Teachers led by Randi Weingarten. Teacher unions were created to fight the very kind of imposition and degrading demands that Gates is implementing and forever proposing. Gates has made no secret of his contempt for teachers, even to the place of roaming the county suggesting their modest pensions are far too high.

Despite all this, both the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, instead of ceaselessly pointing out to their members the danger of Mr. Gates and his kind, not merely to their profession but to a semblance of democracy itself, have repeatedly pretended that they can work Gates and all will be fine. Alternatively, they say stuff like, things are changing and unions must change with them.
One hears lots of this sort of defeated without a fight rubbish.
Privately, they insist they have no choice but to work with this man.

Why ? What happens if you don’t ?

Randi and Bill: Weingarten personally invited Bill Gates to be the keynote speaker at a national AFT Convention in an effort to promote “dialogue.”   Bill wasn’t listening.

Randi and Bill: Weingarten personally invited Bill Gates to be the keynote speaker at a national AFT Convention in an effort to promote “dialogue.” Bill wasn’t listening.

It is difficult to gauge the idiocy of this thinking. It is nothing less than suicidal. It is the reasoning of minds that have no understanding of how unions came to be and what they are for. That much the more when there is the track record of reckless experimentation on students and heretofore unimaginable teacher degradation to draw from. But it is not difficult to gauge the results. Schemes developed by Gates have already eliminated due process (tenure) for countless teachers, have already subjected teachers to an evaluation plan that is riddled with error and obscenities such as the contention that poverty is not a factor in student performance on standardized tests. It should be clear to anyone who has followed the billionaire backed farce called “education reform” that Bill Gates never “gives” a thin dime without somehow extracting much, much more in return. At this point, one would have to be crazy or clueless to be dealing with man. To be doing anything, that is, other than exposing him as the narcissistic, democracy hating monster that he is.

Both the NEA and the AFT are willingly becoming adjuncts of the Gates Foundation.
(If you think I exaggerate observe the NEA website which reads like an ad for Common) Core among other Gate’s schemes http://www.nea.org/home/609.htm )
It is time for members to do all that can be legally done to remove Mr. Dennis Van Roekel and Ms. Randi Weingarten from power. Indeed, long past time.

Their actions are beyond parody and beyond disgrace and lead only one way: complete and utter disempowerment for union members. I do not know how this can be done but I know it must before the very idea of a union – that which without there can be neither dignity nor rights for workers of any kind – is completely eviscerated from this land. Such evisceration is precisely the goal of Mr. Gates and his kind and they will succeed if we do not stop them.

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/teacherbeat/2012/05/gates_foundation_awards_550000.html

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The Slower of Two Evils: Why I Cannot Vote For Barack Obama

November 6, 2012

The Slower of Two Evils

I was raised in a large working class family sustained by the wages my father earned as a member of  a union ( and  later as a union leader)  in an industry that  has  all but gone the way of the pterodactyl.  So it goes. But at the time, on his modest salary, he was able to keep eleven of  us  not only clothed and fed, but enrolled in Catholic schools and eventually living in our own house.  All this on a single salary.  All this utterly unthinkable in our day.  Why ?  What happened ?  Ours was a home in which the ghosts of Governor Al Smith, FDR and the Kennedy brothers were almost corporeal beings and the Democratic Party, as imperfect as any human organization, was the unambiguous and proud champion of our class, the working class. In the world in which I grew up, if you were not rich, you would have been thought mentally ill to vote for the Republican Party.

And I do not recall ever hearing talk of “the lesser of two evils” and you can rest assured,  I was listening.

This, of course, was before the advent of the worst aspects of American liberalism, the endless divisiveness  of identity politics, the astounding   and abiding success  of political hucksters like Bill Clinton,  the passing of NAFTA, the off-shoring of the American manufacturing base, the relentless undermining  of unions, the repeal of Glass-Steagall and the advent of financialization: all of these which collectively comprised the wholesale betrayal of the American working class.  All of which were aided and abetted,  when not outright championed,  by the Democratic Party.

I write this not as an exercise in useless nostalgia but as a context for my refusal to insult myself by casting a vote for a party that has  not merely long ago ceased to represent the likes of myself  (in point of fact, outside of corporations I do not know exactly who  the Democratic Party does represent )  but has, in many ways,  degenerated into an active enemy.  This is most true in the Democratic stand on labor.  It has left  millions and millions stranded.  Which  is exactly where they want us to be.  Their tacit question:  Where are you going to go ?  To the Republicans ?  To the Tea Party ? And this pathetic trap   has  been set largely   by the successful exploitation of the  politics of fear and playing the card of the lesser of two evils again and again and again.

So here it is, Election Day and I’m facing the same hand  I’ve been dealt   for virtually my entire adult life.  But today there is a difference, a logical and inevitable difference: as the corporate state has consolidated itself within both parties and, outside of “trigger”  issues such as gay marriage and abortion,  the two parties major political positions have become more and more alike, the lesser of two evils has in many cases become merely the slower of two evils. This is the only way I can view the choice of Mr. Obama or Mr. Romney.

I have not the time to discuss my disgust with President Obama’s policy of murder by drone, his refusal to prosecute either the people who brought the world economy to the brink of disaster or the war criminals of the Bush  administrations, his failure to close Guantanamo or his belief that he has the right to order the assassination  of anyone on earth, among other things.  Nor have I any doubt that Mitt Romney would be as bad or worse on any of the above.  Rather I wish to argue that both men wish to lead the nation to the same end using slightly different means.  And that end is the complete domination of  the corporate state.

Consider  that Barack Obama and Mitt Romney traffic exclusively in platitudes, are complete and committed corporatists and are, as such, owned, lock, stock and barrel.    Which is not to say there are not differences between the two.  Romney is far more obvious and forthright about his allegiance.  When Romney  declared that    “Corporations are people too, my friends”,   he meant it and he doesn’t  seem to care who knows it.

Obama, meanwhile, is infinitely more of a stealth promoter of the corporate state: he wants it in there before you notice and seems very concerned with establishing some similitude of public consent and, short of that, someone else’s fingerprints, preferably yours, on his schemes. Obama wants you to like him as he debases your existence and tries to enlist you in your debasement.  In other words, he wants political cover and some version of plausible deniability — even when he is in complete agreement with what he is ostensibly opposing.

Romney, on the other hand, seems content  just to smile his howdy doody smile and talk about how wonderful Americans are by virtue of their  being American. God, you understand, loves us more than other people.  And who can blame him ?

Howdy Doody

Consider Barack Obama’s and Mitt Romney’s approach to education, the issue that ,as one of 3.2. million public school teachers and a father of a public school student, is nearest and dearest  to my heart.

Both Obama and Romney  are tireless champions  of  what is euphemistically called “education reform”; what is, in fact, a relentless bi-partisan billionaire backed  campaign to privatize the public school system while busting or rendering ornamental the teachers’ union, the last large union standing in our country. And note well that neither candidate would allow their own children anywhere near a school implementing their reforms. And  for excellent reason.

Romney’s plan is as simple and transparent as Romney himself:  eradicate the federal Department of Education and give vouchers to every family in the continental USA.  And smile idiotically while doing so.

Presto!  The hidden hand of the magical free market will be eradicating “the achievement gap ” and  passing out diplomas  before you can say  “Wall Street!”    The same (even more) hidden hand will also  be handing out pink slips to most if not all of the 3.2 million teachers who will in turn implode their union.

Bingo! Two birds with one stone !

Now think about  Obama’s signature educational initiative, Race To the Top.  The name alone billboards Obama’s complete alignment with corporate ideology.  Races, as you know, have winners and losers.  Public institutions should not. That goes double for schools.  In point of fact, despite the incoherent, indefensible claims of both American Federation of Teacher’s president Randi Weingarten and National Education Association president Dennis Van Roekel that Obama is somehow a pro-public education president, RTTT is designed to simultaneously undermine both the public school system and the teachers unions and usher in the complete privatization of the public school system on a national level. Slowly.  And with political cover.  You see, they will  claim, we tried.  Public schools simply don’t work and so we must let corporations run them. Sorry.

Whereas Romney   wishes to do away with public schools with a couple of  swift death blows, the kinder gentler Obama wishes to asphyxiate  it over time with a number of objectively unfair and unscientific schemes, all having to do with standardized tests, all products of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, those deeply concerned private citizens who make public policy for your child and mine.   Obama  wants teachers and teachers unions to assist him by committing slow collective suicide while perhaps allowing a few here and there to maintain their  jobs.

Fours years into the works RTTT is incrementally succeeding at all of these goals accompanied by the   startling spectacle of union teachers praising the president and rallying for the reelection of the man who is actively and consciously destroying their workplaces,  threatening their livelihoods and force feeding a lousy  paint-by-numbers pseudo education on the nation’s children but not Obama’s and his friends.

Many teachers are doing this because the other guy, Romney, is even worse.   This is undoubtedly true.  Romney  is a nightmare. But so is Obama.   And so is this scenario.  And so is this country.  These are the choices of caged animals, not free human beings.  And this nightmare  will remain and, in fact, grow more so if we do not cease accepting the pathetic and grotesque  choices we are given, do not cease accepting the cynical trap that has been set for us  do not cease accepting that this is just the way it is.

Education  is one issue, to be sure.  But to be just as sure, it is emblematic of how the man and the Democratic party now operate. Look at them.  Andrew Cuomo is  a Democrat.  Rahm Emanuel is a Democrat.  Bill Gates is a Democrat. So is every member of the hedge fund gang who created and bankroll Democrats For  Education Reform. They are also, like our beloved president, insidious union busters.

So welcome to your plutocracy. Welcome to the almost completed corporate state. Welcome to the ever-shrinking farce of political choice. Welcome to the lesser of two evils where inevitably  there is  more and more evil all the time.  How can there not  be ?  What and who is there to stop it ?   You will forgive me or you won’t for my outright refusal to vote for a president who has made no secret of his outright contempt for working people, labor unions, the poor,  due process of the law and habeas corpus because he knows he can get away with it because he know you know his opponent is even a greater a danger than he.

This is not the position of a free people. To accept this   is to abdicate one’s intellectual, spiritual and civic responsibility. It is to surrender one rights.  It is to accept and legitimize powerlessness as  call such powerlessness  freedom.

I am a human being who believes, body and soul,  in participatory  democracy,  attempting to be as free as I can be.   Therefore I am voting for Jill Stein and the Green Party.

Ms. Jill Stein