Posts Tagged ‘Diane Ravitch’

Bill Gates and the Medal of Freedom: Obama Officially Recognizes the Right of the Rich to Impose Public Policy

November 19, 2016


As if to officially acknowledge the insidious and tacit transformation of the remnants of democracy to not so subtle oligarchy, the Obama administration has announced that Bill Gates is to be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In a sense, as the Obama administration has done more to undermine public education than any in American history, it is right and fitting that Gates, the person who has bankrolled and forged that effort more than any individual in American history, be so duly honored.
For the past 15 years, Gates, a private citizen with zero educational experience and knowledge, has been allowed to use his virtually limitless fortune to impose his will on the public school system as he has pleased, an effort he has pursued with the same ruthlessness that he once used to obtain the intellectual property rights that have led to his immense fortune.

Gates’ efforts have led directly to the expansion of publically funded, privately managed charter schools, the creation and imposition of idiotic and grossly unfair teacher evaluations, mass financing propaganda like Waiting For Superman, and the purchase and acquiescence of long standing education organizations such as the national Parent Teacher Association. In addition, Gates has funded the creation of a seemingly endless amount of freshly minted “grass roots” advocacy organizations (Educators for Excellence, for example) the sole purpose of which is to deceive an unknowing public into believing that a campaign to privatize the school system by the richest people on earth is rising from the streets. (The usurpation of the language and iconography of the Civil Rights Movement has been both beyond shameless and disturbingly successful. ) It has also led to the immiseration of teachers from coast to coast as well as the weakening of the power of teacher unions – who foolishly tried to dance with this monopolist — across the nation. Gates’ crowning achievement thus far is the imposition of the secretly written, deceptively named, disastrously received Common Core State Standards which, as they were written with standardized tests in mind, in turn have led to a reduction of education to test prep.

His success at” reform” has led education historian Diane Ravitch to sardonically dub Gates “ the superintendent of American schools. “
That this unelected, unaccountable and largely hidden figure has been allowed to forge his will on an American institution as vital as the public school system should fill every American who actually believes in participatory democracy with abject horror.
Instead, Gates is being awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor. And so it goes. Allow an individual man to accumulate the wealth of a state and it is only a matter of time before that individual begins to act like the state and a short time after that the state recognizes said individual as proxy for the state.
May the kind of freedom President Obama is awarding here be clearly recognized and seen for what it is. It is the freedom of the private citizen to make public policy for millions providing that private citizen is super rich.
The rest of us be damned.

What a sad, sad time in which we live.

A Chronicle of Echoes by Mercedes Schneider Reviewed by Patrick Walsh

September 19, 2014

The Message of Moskowitz and her Billionaire Backers: We Are the Government

March 30, 2014


With the same cynicism and ruthlessness that their beloved charter schools employ to toss out any students who threaten their sacred test scores, billionaires have instructed our elected officials in Albany to toss out the will of the people and the well being of the 94 % of New York City public school students which threatens the ever increasing plutocratic dominance of education.

Many in Albany, none more than the almost supernaturally despicable Governor Andrew Cuomo, have proven themselves only too happy to serve as valets for the super rich and their representatives like education entrepreneur Eva Moskowitz. Who can forget Cuomo’s shameless appearance with Moskowitz and the hundreds of school children she bussed up to Albany to act as her living, breathing, human political pawns?

Other elected officials, no doubt mindful of the treatment Mayor Bill de Blasio has received over the last three weeks — and no doubt too, recipients of threats or promises from the same folk who insinuated Bill de Blasio, married to an African American, is somehow a racist — have responded to the plutocrat’s requests with a state budget agreement that is shocking — or should be shocking — in its naked pandering to a handful of billionaires and their extraordinary demands for charter schools and casual contempt for New York city public schools.

For the past three weeks New Yorkers experienced an extremely concentrated version of the highly skilled propaganda campaign that the deformers have been poisoning the entire nation with for over a decade now. Editorials lamented the “war on charters.”
TV talking heads nodded sympathetically with the suddenly omnipresent Moskowitz, never questioning a single claim the woman made, no matter how preposterous or false. The airwaves were filled with no less than 3.5 million dollars worth of super slick tear jerking commercials showing the beautiful young faces of school children (again using children as political pawns) being somehow deprived of an education by the evil monster named Bill de Blasio.

What has transpired in the past month is as disgusting as it is disturbing and would not survive in a vibrant and healthy democracy. In a sick and dying democracy, such as we are now experiencing, such stuff has simply become the way the zero sum game is played. And it has done so with astonishing speed. We have become, a government of the super rich, by the super rich and for the super rich. The state budget agreement is simply the most recent example. And we have, by and by, acquiesced, if only by default. We are as a people, as a nation, wholly ill equipped to deal with such a rapacious class of predators, the desire of whom is nothing short of the whole sale privatization of the entire public school system with themselves – hedge fund mangers, financiers, and Wall Street tycoons — at the helm, insuring the vast publicly funded revenue stream is diverted into their coffers.

In the meantime, they are celebrated as heros when not out right saviors. It is they, billionaires and entrepreneurs, who care about educating the poor and the marginalized, not the teachers who have dedicated their lives to this noble and difficult endeavor.

This is beyond dangerous. This is beyond cynical. It is a ticking time bomb. No nation can survive this kind of insanity for long.

I fear for my daughter in a world usurped and ruled by such people. I fear for all our children. And I don’t really know what to do about it. And I don’t know anyone who does.

But we must do something.

The agreement is to be voted on tomorrow. The very least we can do is call our elected officials and remind them for whom they are working, and that we will remember what they do tomorrow come next election day.
Please see Diane Ravitch’s and Leonie Haisom’s post here for more information

Corporate Education Reform and the Simpsons

February 5, 2014


All too often during the dreadful and endless Bloomberg years, the cartoon-like reality of the richest guy in New York actually running New York made me feel as if I went to sleep in my city and woke up in an episode of the Simpsons. An episode of the Simpson’s, that is, with the show’s grasp of the absurdity of American life but without its brilliant, cutting wit and customary happy ending. Given the antics of our various non-educator Chancellors of education — Joel Klein, Cathy Black and Dennis Walcott — all doing their best to please the union busting, teacher-hating Bloomberg, this sense was especially keen when it came to anything to do with education.

I am reminded of that sensation this morning by a post by Diane Ravitch, only this time I arises out of a proposal in North Carolina. To wit:

In North Carolina, the top 25% of teachers are eligible to give up due process rights in return for an extra $500 a year.

Can you imagine the level of abject contempt in the person or persons that came up with this?

$500 a year in exchange for due process rights?

And, like the phony exclusivity one is meant to feel at the presense of a velvet rope at some swank club, the offer to surrender the modicum of job security provided by due process is given only to the to 25% of teachers. I’ll give 100 to 1 odds such ranking is based largely if not exclusively on test scores.

“But that’s not all,” as the shill selling ginsu knives or Vegomatic in cheap late night TV commercials used to bellow, “if you call before midnight….”

However, there is a catch, this reader says: “It is $500 a year for 4 years and then back to where you were in 2013-14. You don’t stay at the plus $2,000 in year 5. Also since only the first year is funded local funds will have to be found for years 2, 3 and 4. It’s just the cheese in the trap.”

Cheese in the trap indeed.

Perhaps the authors of the offer were inspired by the creators of Race To the Top( and that would mean the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), insofar as those states who surrendered all manner of rights in an attempt to “win” a relatively paltry amount of life blood cash from the Obama administration’s competition, soon discovered that what they surrendered stayed surrendered whether they “won” the grant or not.

Now that’s what I call a two headed nickel!

Reading these words I recall an episode in the Simpsons where Homer and his work mates try to start a union at the power plant where they work. Evil Mr. Burns, the owner of the power plant (and the Bloomberg figure of the series) provides kegs and kegs of beer for the meeting of the men, hoping to derail them by getting them drunk. Waiting till the men are good and plastered, Burns orchestrates the raising of the question to be decided immediately by a show of hands: what do the men want, health care or another keg of beer?

There is something of that in this insulting and contemptuous “offer.” In fact, lots of it. I trust the good teachers of North Carolina will tell its sponsors where to put it.


Reign of Error – Book Review – Truthdig

December 6, 2013

Reign of Error – Book Review – Truthdig.