Posts Tagged ‘Mercedes Schneider’

The Daily News Outdoes Itself with a Masterpiece of Ugly Spirited Nonsense

September 7, 2015

DN g

Even in a campaign based almost entirely on public relations and perception management, yesterday’s editorial on “education reform” in the Daily News may be the most dishonest, manipulative and ugly spirited I’ve ever read on the subject. And I’ve read a lot.

Indeed, the unsigned editorial might well be studied as a masterpiece of manipulative bullshit, chock a block full of absurd assertions, gross insults, lies of omission and out right falsehoods – all to do nothing less than to poison public perception of the teachers’ union on the eve of Labor Day.

The phantom editorialist begin be lamenting that Andrew Cuomo, he who referred to the public school system as “the last monopoly,” was wrong in calling for a weasel worded “comprehensive review” of the deceitful and catastrophic Common Core standards. (For a brilliant and concise history of this long term con job, see Common Core Dilemma/ Who Owns Our Schools? by Mercedes K. Schneider.)

Somehow Cuomo’s attempt at appearing to listen to thousands and thousands of politicized parents of New York public school children, so enraged and disgusted by his reckless and damaging education impositions that they have refused to allow their children to take the tests he has forced down their throats,
“stands as a loud warning that the drive for teacher accountability is in dire jeopardy.”
The Daily News does not trouble itself with inquiring why any parent, never mind thousands of parents, would somehow not want their child’s teacher to be held accountable.

Better to skip that one.

The News is utterly flummoxed that a mere five months after an apparently all-powerful Cuomo used the budget to “push(ed) through the Legislature major changes to the state’s teacher-evaluation system, heightening reliance on kids’ Common Core standardized test results to gauge instructor performance, while shielding kids from consequences, “ parents across the state, mindful of what the “major changes” are doing to their children as well as their children’s teachers are, in greater and greater numbers and with more and more passion and articulation, simply refusing to go along with it.

I am one of those thousands and thousands of parents. I am also one of the thousands and thousands of teachers whose livelihood and professional reputation could easily be destroyed by the unconscionable and incomprehensible evaluation system that non-educator Cuomo rammed into law without a single debate or discussion as to its merits – not unlike the Common Core which apparently was consecrated as holy writ even before it was written. Meanwhile, in Long Island, a dignified and universally praised teacher whose reputation has been sullied by the evaluation system in question has brought the unholy mess to trial.

None of this troubles the Daily News who prefer to believe and in believing traffic the sweet and insidious lies that the states’ evaluation system is fair and just; that the Common Core was not, in fact, rushed into existence surreptitiously by a handful of education entrepreneurs funded by the Gates Foundation but “developed over many years by the nation’s top education experts. ”

It is instructive that the Daily News choose not to name the “nations top education experts ” or the exact length of time they toiled over their heavenly goal.

It is even more instructive that, in a statement that is beyond ludicrous,
The News insinuates that the parents who have opted their children out of the testing debacle have done so because they have been “ginned up” by the teacher unions. In other words, the thousands of parents who have opted out are so many human balloons with little tiny brains, pushed this way and that by the evil Svengali-like teacher unions.

Not only is this idea a grotesque insult to thousands of parents — and one that will hopefully resonate across the state and move thousands more to opt out — it is completely and tragically untrue.

I am a member of the largest teacher union local in the state and like many of my unions brothers and sisters I have and continue to be dismayed by both my unions’ support of Common Core and refusal to support the Opt Out movement.
But, of course, this disgraceful piece of propaganda was written exclusively and consciously for those who have no knowledge of what ed reform truly is and no way of finding out the truth of the matter in the media. It was written to deceive, to enrage, to divide those who do not know any better by those who do. And it was done at the expense of millions of children. It was written to be read on the eve of Labor Day to poison the souls of all who read it, indeed to do nothing less than “gird for war” against teachers who educate our children, against the public schools that have helped create the most powerful nation on earth, against unions that have created the middle class and given dignity to countless millions, and even against parents who stand up to the hubris of the state in defense of their children.
“O, “ wrote Walter Scot “ what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive! “

When is a “Grassroots” Organization a Front ?

February 18, 2015


This morning I woke up to find an email from the tireless and venerable Norm Scott of EdNotes Online. Under the headline, The Public Education Beat Down Express Goes On, the ever vigilant Norm posted the following notices:
12 p.m.—Families for Excellent Schools holds a press conference with Senator Ruben Diaz Jr. and other Bronx elected officials to call for action on failing schools. Girls Prep Bronx Elementary, 681 Kelly Street, Bronx.
6 p.m.—StudentsFirstNY holds a town hall meeting in support of Cuomo’s education agenda, headlined by Assemblyman Karim Camara. Medgar Evers College, Founders Auditorium, 1650 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn.

Both Families for Excellent Schools and StudentsFirst NY are, like all of the education reform campaign, pure products of the ever strengthening, ever consolidating, ever more triumphant American oligarchy and nothing more than disguised vehicles for their political agendas. This is to say, not one of the hundreds of such groups that have proliferated over the past decade, would exist for five minutes without constant and massive infusions of money, lots of it re-directed taxes, from their oligarchic creators and directors. We are dealing here with people so rich that millions are almost meaningless and whose ruthlessness, sense of entitlement, and narcissism knows no bounds. The only thing they know how to do is to dominate by any means they can. Non-profits, they have discovered, are one of the many vehicles they utilize in their push for privatization. Hence, the steady rise of thenon profit education reform industrial complex. Or, as they like to call themselves, the “grassroots” movement.

Both Families for Excellent Schools and StudentsFirstNY target poor and poorly educated families and aim to manipulate them, in the name of promoting better schools, into turning against the public schools system and, ultimately, against the remains of social contract itself . The end game is to find the poor embracing and promoting the privatization of all aspects of American life. As “non-profits,” Families for Excellent Schools and StudentsFirst NY exist partly by legally diverting taxes that would go to public coffers thereby draining vital funding from the very public institutions they are attempting to politically undermine.
Quite the two headed nickel.

This, needless to say, is not how they view themselves.
“Families for Excellent Schools, “ claims their website, “ (FES) is a grassroots movement of public school families. We advocate to create and sustain excellent schools.”
(Note: Mercedes Schneider’s excellent work on uncovering Families for Excellent Schools “non-profit “ weaselry.)

“StudentsFirstNY is New York’s leading voice for students who depend on public education for the skills they need to succeed, but who are too often failed by a system that puts special interests, rather than the interests of children, first.”
Despite their billionaire and corporate backing and thinly disguised privatization agendas, such groups and their followers use the word “grassroots” to define themselves as often as possible. Meanwhile, the public at large, if they are aware of who is bankrolling such groups at all, hardly seem troubled by this.
The corporate press, ever eager to please their masters, has been especially derelict on their non-reporting on the genesis, bankrolling and propagation of such groups as Families for Excellent Schools as has the government in granting them non profit status willy nilly as if they actually are grassroots organizations.
That this farce goes on in broad daylight, aided and abetted by the US government, is but one of the many demoralizing aspects of being a teacher in an age of extreme political and intellectual degeneracy and expediency and yet another example of how the mega rich are being allowed to rewrite the narrative of this nation.

What does the tacit agreement to ignore the obvious charade about such increasingly powerful organization tell us about what has happened to the American soul in the past 30 or so years ?
In even a moderately honest culture, in fact, organizations such as Families for Excellent Schools would be seen for what they are and called what they are: not grass roots movements but fronts.

It’s not that Americans and the American government are not familiar with the concept of fronts. Read history and you will find that all throughout the Cold War, Americans were repeatedly warned by the government, by the press, by the clergy, of the insidious danger of what were generically called “communist fronts.” The words were used as a smear and an attack on any group that was not mindlessly patriotic. Nonetheless, there were, in fact, organizations that in some cases were funded by Moscow, and not unlike Families for Excellent Schools or StudentsFirstNY, hired young, smiling faces to pass themselves off as indigenous as the buffalo and as all American as the Georgia peach. During the endless reign of J. Edgar Hoover, many non–communist affiliated groups were also tossed into the same soup and many lives ruined. Of course, all civil rights organizations, even as they were firmly rooted in the church, were absurdly labeled so and ruthlessly hounded and harassed.
Politically and morally there was and there is good reason to expose fronts — all fronts, whatever the political affiliation. Whatever your political sympathies, there is something intrinsically sleazy, unethical and even sinister about a front.


Or there should be.

Is not the purpose of a front to deceive, to pass itself off as something it is not so as to scam credulous people of good will? Are fronts not a con-job riddled with hidden agendas? Of course, they are. Fronts are bad faith incorporated.

And yet, even while multiplying like malignant cells, even as the massive money behind “education reform” has produced more fronts than one can keep up with, even though widely acknowledged as “astroturf”, all seem to have somehow escaped the moral condemnation and political scrutiny that was visited to no end on their predecessors in the front game. They just keep coming and coming and coming. And why shouldn’t they ? The people behind these scams have been allowed to amass the wealth of nations; an accumulation of capital that no democracy can long withstand before being utterly perverted.

Are billionaire and corporate based deception and bad faith somehow higher than their communist based counterparts of the past ? Even as billionaires and corporatism have done infinitely more to wreck and undermine our anemic democracy, deplete the earth, poison our food and debase our culture, than communists ever did? Even as they attempt to use non- profits and ‘grassroots “ groups to foment a kind of civil war intended, ultimately, to dismantle all progressive legislation of the past century? Even as they have made our political system a sick joke growing more anemic by the month? What can be said about this strange, silent metamorphosis of a mechanism like a front from something to be shunned and condemned to something to be celebrated by our elected officials who happily pose with these smiling shysters and con artists even as I write? Have we become so internally corporatized and ideologically colonized that we as a people can scarcely see the difference between a legitimate non-profit and a rank front, even as the ever multiplying fronts makes continued inroads into undermining a public trust as vital as the school system?

What, really, is the difference between a “grass root ” shams likes Families For Excellent Schools and StudentsFirstNY and a front ? What, that is, except our subservience to who is bankrolling them ?

Obama Again Uses the Presidency to Shill for Yet Another Gates Eduscam

January 10, 2015

“The executioner’s face is always well hidden.”

Bob Dylan

Happy Bill

Happy Bill

More than any other individual in American history, monopolist, intellectual property rights predator and non-educator Bill Gates has used his immense fortune to insidiously remake the K-12 public school system in his image. He has done this for over a decade, largely by employing the Democratic Party to force unproven experiment after unproven and often mad ( see galvanic bracelets ) experiment down the throats of millions of students and teachers. (For a comprehensive exposure of what Gates has wrought see Mercedes Schneider’s edu blog at ) In the process, private citizen Gates , while improving nothing, has succeeded in causing chaos, demoralization and an even further shrinking of the American mind, in this case to data based idiocy, from sea to shining sea.

Gates is apparently not satisfied with experimenting with the lives and the livelihoods of millions of students and teachers. Like a true monopolist he is reaching for millions more: Gates now wants to remake higher education, this time via community colleges.

President Obama, who has shamelessly shilled for the Gates Foundation- funded Race to the Top and the deceitfully named Common Core States Standards, going as far as to promote the same as his signature education polices, personally and to much fanfare announced Gates’ new plan to the nation yesterday. Of course, as with Race to the Top and Common Core, there was no mention of Gates.

Like all well thought out cons, the scam sounds noble from afar and appeals to the best of the American impulses – fairness, opportunity, social mobility — only to utterly undermine them and pave the way for the privatization of community colleges and the incorporation of Common Core and tracking and data collecting , bringing them to a whole other level.

Here is Gates discussing the scam. Note his casual use of the word “tracking” again and again and again. Note the vulgar reduction of education to cost efficiency. Note the fact that this person would be talking to himself if he did not somehow accumulate the wealth of entire nations.

Each day, the reality that we are not merely well into an age of oligarchy, but an increasingly ruthless and rapacious oligarchy , becomes clearer and clearer. Each day our political system exposes itself as little more than the public relations department of the 1%. Each day the American people become more powerless and disenfranchised.

Each day the wisdom in the words of Justice Louis Brandeis have never been truer; “We must make our choice. We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.”

Each day we near the place of no return.

Why Does the NY Times Pay So Much Attention to An Accused Teacher and So Little to the Common Core ?

October 10, 2014

Over the past several years the New York Times, the paper of record and all that, has published article after article, editorial after editorial praising the wonders of the privately owned experiment on American children deceptively called the Common Core State Standards and painting all who opposed the instantly sacred writ as little more than right wing nut jobs. The paper has done all it can do to hide the fact that the Common Core exists solely because a private citizen, one Bill Gates, has decided that it is his right to undermine democratic process and dictate public policy even as our spineless politicians have helped him every step of the way. The information about the genesis and financing of the Common Core, though obscured and hidden, has been flushed out and is available to those who seek it. See especially the work of Mercedes Schneider. Apparently the New York Times does not seek it.

With this in mind, I read with astonishment the almost granular description and psychological profile of the life of one Sean Shaynak, a high school teacher arrested for multiple counts of sexual misconduct with his students.
The story is disturbing and disgusting and, yes, newsworthy but I have to ask myself: why does the horrific behavior of a single teacher merit such research and scrutiny while the imposition of a radical experiment, increasingly loathed by American parents, students and teachers, and created by an unelected, unaccountable monopolist given what results in a free pass by the paper of record?

Consider simply the level of research — research reminiscent of a NY Times profile of a presidential candidate — that went into the ridiculous citing of Shaynak’s favorite Pretenders song as he rode down the highway of life toward ignominy and worse. Try to find an a commensurate example of research in any NY Times article on the provenance of the Common Core or any of its principal creators and you will search in vain.

Consider that the admittedly sordid allegations against this one individual, horrible that they are, affected a tiny proportion of one school yet merited the front page of the most important paper in America while the stealth creation of a radical privately owned imposition that is currently upending almost every school in the country is scarcely worth a mention.

Something is wrong. Very, very wrong.
What is really going on here ?

A Chronicle of Echoes by Mercedes Schneider Reviewed by Patrick Walsh

September 19, 2014