Posts Tagged ‘NEA’

The Triumph of Plutocracy: How Bill Gates Dictates American Educational Policy

August 28, 2013

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. however, had come to co-opt the union. He did.

Gates and Randi

In a brilliant post that hopefully will be read from coast to coast, Mercedes Schneider provides evidence to what many suspected or even knew but could not prove: to wit, that the deceitfully named Common Core States Standards Initiative has been almost entirely funded by Bill Gates, including its promotion and implementation. In doing so, Schneider revels much more.

All of it is appalling and extremely disturbing in what it reveals about who is running our school system.

By exposing the role Gate’s money played in virtually every aspect of the immense project, Schneider exposes the two institutionalized lies at the heart of Common Core promotion: the first is that the Common Core is “state led ” rather than “Gates led” ( as Ms. Schneider put it) : the second is that the Common Core was created by teachers rather than education industrialists and entrepreneurs like David Coleman. (Revealingly, despite being considered ” the architect” of the project, Coleman’s name is absent from the CCSI website. )

Schneider’s post is an astounding and chilling document in so far as it shows how the cooperation of virtually every educational organization of note and influence in America has been co-opted by money from Gates’s limitless bank account. It shows, that is, a betrayal of trust of an astounding depth. How many parents across America know, for example, that the National Congress of Parents and Teachers were given a gift of $499,962 by the Gates’ Foundation? How many believe that a person like Gates “gives” anything without demanding much more in return ?
For teachers, the cruelest blows are the $5,400,000 accepted by American Federation of Teachers and the $3.9 million accepted by the National Education Association. This is beyond grotesque. Such “gifts” expose for all to see the moral rot at the leadership levels of our unions. It shows us that we have been, at best, orphaned if not out right betrayed by the very institutions that exist to protect us – that we pay to protect us. It shows us how desperately we need new leadership.

Common Core State Standards and the intrinsically connected high stakes testing and the intrinsically connected Value Added Measures are now the central nervous system of our public schools. That this is almost entirely the work of a private citizen who is rich enough and ruthless enough to impose his will on an entire nation wholly outside of the legislative apparatus in which we base our democracy should send chills down the spine of every American who believes in political freedom. Gates and his enablers — who are just as culpable — mock our democracy with the smiling acceptance of every dime and the spouting of every lie.
Such an attack on basic democratic principles is ignored or accepted at grave risk.

Nation at Risk, the Ur-document of education reform was published in 1983. It’ most often repeated line was the following: “If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war. “
The “mediocre educational performance “ was bombast then and is bombast now and has been proven to be ideologically based.
But allow me to paraphrase the sentence in light of Schneider’s information: “If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the plutocracy that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war. “

It is an act of war: class war. And it should be viewed as such and reacted to as such.

Schneider’s post is potentially explosive. It is a document that should be read and studied by every teacher, every parent, every concerned citizen and every high school student in America. We have the right to know who is undermining our democratic processes and who is helping them to do so. We have the obligation to expose them and stop them before it is too late.

Thank you, Mercedes Schneider, for your noble and brilliant work.

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The New York Times Publishes Yet Another Rubbish Based Editorial Praising Common Core State Standards

August 22, 2013
Sez "Common Core is Good For You !"

Sez “Common Core is Good For You !”

Not to get conspiratorial about it but exactly what is happening over at the New York Times? Has there been an outbreak of Common-Core-itis, some strange new virus that somehow destroys the reasoning power and critical thinking of brilliant people reducing them to dummies for corporate ventriloquists? Even as the paper has never had anything even remotely “left leaning” or even as “liberal “ as its conservative critics incessantly claim, even though the writing of columnists like Thomas Friedman and David Brooks would make Pollyanna herself blush, even though it is as corporate as corporate can be, the Times has usually offered at least one columnist who observed reality from outside the comfortable hermetically sealed world of corporate bubble-dum, and have, after their fashion, even challenged it.

In happier times there might even be two.

Paul Krugman and Charles Blow, in fact, are two such writers. And yet, within the span of a few days, on top of yet another wildly effusive column by Bill Keller, both Krugman and Blow, far and away the most thoughtful of NY Times columnists, have each written articles praising the Common Core State Standards based on the same stale cream-puff quality of research habitually favored by Friedman and Brooks or, far that matter, Keller.

The decline in the quality of both articles is extraordinary.
Whereas Krugman seems to simply take as gospel Bill Keller’s biased and ignorant rant, Blow partially bases his conclusion about the CCSS on information from the Broad Foundation, which is analogous to basing research on the links between smoking and lung cancer from information from Joe Camel of the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. Still, I want to make it clear here that I am not writing here about their opinions or even so much rather the information (or lack there of) oh what their opinions are based on but rather their impetus and motivations for writing about the subject at all.

Joe Camel sez, "Smoking is good for you!"

Joe Camel sez, “Smoking is good for you!”

(By the way, can someone somewhere please explain to me how it is possible that “graduates” of a completely unaccredited, transparently ideologically driven private organization such as the Broad Foundation’s Superintendent Academies can legally be running a public trust as vital as the public school system in city after city in America ? How is this possible? Why is this not a scandal? Like any teacher, I had to spend six years in college, earn two degrees, take a battery of tests, be fingered printed certified by the state before I could legally even step into a classroom of children unaccompanied by a certified professional.)

For more on Blow’s sources and rational see posts by Diane Ravitch and Arthur Goldstein.
Nor am I not speaking of Krugman and Blow’s political bent. Democracy is, by definition, a messy, loud, inefficient system that cannot function without equal measure of confrontation and consensus. The clash of opinions is what makes a democracy function. Informed opinions, however, are what make a democracy thrive, and it is the quality of information in all three articles appearing in this most influential publication which is particularly disturbing.

Above all I am trying to understand how, on this one particular subject – a subject, mind you, championed by the unelected, unaccountable, unconscionable plutocrats who have completely overtaken our public school system — two people as intelligent and thoughtful as Blow and Krugman could produce such propagandistic drivel?

Why?

How is this to be explained? Is this simply a coincidence? Or, is it something more aligned with FDR’s quip that there is no such things as either an accident or a coincidence in politics.
I will go further: based on what I’ve read of both men’s works in the past on virtually every other subject, I find it impossible to believe that, faced with the facts concerning the genesis, political machinations, unknowable results and billions to be made from unwitting American taxpayers on what is nothing more than a wholly untested experiment of American students and teachers, I find it extremely difficult to believe that either Krugman or Blow would be stating anything near the positions they have stated.

I do not wish to impugn the integrity of either of these men. But I, like many people whose livelihood is directly and imminently threatened by the imposition of the CCSS and the policies surrounding it, and whose child will be faced with a battery of tests like none that has ever before been seen, am deeply disturbed, by the confluence of the Common Core chorus among the elite and only the elite, with little or nor consideration whatsoever to anyone else effected by it. And I speak here not merely of the corporate elite. Consider that American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten and the National Education Association president Dennis Van Roekel are both tireless proponents of the CCSS, even as the hundreds of thousands of their due paying members are not. Indeed, out of the many perverse realities made manifest in its saga, the advent of the Common Core may have occasioned the first time in the history of American labor where plutocrats, corporate chieftains and union presidents are united in their desire to keep a labor force – in this case teachers — as utterly powerless in the creation of their working conditions as possible.

The decline in quality of both Krugman’s and Blow’s work on this particular subject makes no sense to me at all, any more than does the suicidal enthusiasm of the AFT and NEA. All of the above are but terrible signs of something in America that grows increasingly powerful in direct proportion to American citizens growing increasingly powerless.
Something is wrong here. Very wrong. Something does not add up. This is not the country I was born in, problematic as that nation was, nor is not the country I want to raise my child in. There is something the American citizenry is not being told and that something is aimed straight at the remains of our already enfeebled, anemic, perhaps terminally ill democracy.

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

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

The Tea Party at the Fair

August 22, 2011

Just back from a little trip to Grahamsville, New York in Sullivan County where we stayed overnight with some old friends and visited the 132nd Annual Little World’s Fair in Grahamsville Fairground.

The fair is a hoot, what with all variety of  prize farm animals on display, rides for  the kiddies and delicacies such as candy apples, cotton candy, and for those with a with a  curious palate, deep fried Oreos.

I was not curious.

Amidst all this was a heavy and very conspicuous presence of the Tea Party, both in an official capacity – they had their own booth set up, as did the Republican and Democratic Parties – and in the form of lots and lots of middle aged overweight white guys who strolled the grounds wearing determined faces, Tea Party baseball hats and  Tea Party tee shirts of various kinds.

And what tee shirts they are!

If the Tea Party’s insane demands in the ongoing and infantile debacle over the debt ceiling were not enough to  convince you that at least a good part of your nation has entered some as-yet-to-be-named dementia, check  out these tee shirts.

In Tea Party land Obama, he who is wholly beholden to corporations, he, who has continued and extended both of Bush’s criminal wars in which 800,000 innocent souls have been murdered by US forces over lies that no one has been held accountable for; he who is doing all he can do to give the US public school system over to corporations, he who gave failed or criminal bankers a trillion dollar, no strings attached loan, is somehow of all things, a communist.

Yowser!

At the same time Obama –or at least his close political associates like Nancy Pelosi – is    a Nazi.

Or maybe a Nazi–Communist.

At any rate, without question Obama hates freedom and America, which as all patriots know are the same thing.

After musing over these rabbit-brained sentiments for a while, and after getting a good  look at some of the Tea Party faithful, I decided that a discussion with such folk was not likely to be fruitful or enlightening.  Besides, they scared the shit out of  my daughter.

As it happened, the booth for the Democratic Party was directly across the way so I ambled over, peeked in, and, as befitting a child of the working class, a son of a union man and a union man myself, was heartily welcome. I asked them how they were dealing with the fellows across the way whose eyes I could feel boring into my back.  They were extremely civil in tone and asked me if I had read the Tea Party placards.  I told them I had read some of them and that my favorite was the one that read: “ US Youth unemployed after 45 years of excessive regulations of  US manufacturing.” I took this to be an appeal for the abolition of troublesome child labor laws.  But that was not the sign they wanted me to see.  The sign they wanted me to see had the Tea Party accusing the Democratic Party of calling the former “terrorists”  while the Tea Party reminding the Dems that the same was said of  George Washington.

Touché!  Now that’s what I call a high minded political argument!

Then the confab grew strange.  One of the three men asked me if I was going to vote for somebody or other for some local office.  I explained I was visiting from New York City They asked what I did there and  I told them I was a public school teacher.  “So you’re under attack too” , one of them said, adding that his parents were from the Lower East Side and had been unionized garment workers and that he, himself, was a union member.  Yes, I replied, teachers are under attack and are so on a federal level, a state level and, in Bloomberg’s New York, on the level of the city.  Yes, they understood that Bloomberg was “a problem”, but were baffled by my accusations about the state and federal government.  “Do you mean charter schools,” one asked.  No, I replied, I did not mean merely charter schools although  that was part of the problem.  I meant the union busting privatizing policies of the two men whose pictures hung prominently in their booth: Governer Andrew Cuomo and President Barack Obama.

The three men looked at me with Little Orphan eyes.  It was clear they had no idea of what I was talking about and I began to suspect they thought I was a Tea Party person playing with them.  I asked them if they were aware that Cuomo had accepted the maximum legal contribution from Tea Party benefactors, the Koch brothers.  I asked them if they had forgotten Andrew’s vows that the first thing he would do as governor was “go after the unions.”  I asked them if they could discern any sense, any sense at all in Cuomo’s refusal to support taxing rich people.  I asked the if they could  discern any connection at all between  the policies of Andrew Cuomo and those of his father, Mario Cuomo or, in fact, any New York Democratic politician of note in the  past 100 years.

The men grew visibly disturbed, admitted that “things had changed” and then reminded me that Cuomo’s main rival, Carl “I’m mad as hell! “ Paladino, he of the baseball bat, would have been worse.   I conceded that he may have been but pointed out that Cuomo’s policies were far more similar to Paladino’s than they would like to admit. In any case, what kind of endorsement is that?  Yes, it’s true, our man has no principles, is a corporate whore, and will betray working people that much the more by steadily moving the party further and further to the right but the other guy… he’d do even worse somehow.

How inspiring!

The talk then turned to Obama and over the men fell an increasingly familiar air, as if discussing a once beloved cousin who was arrested for drug dealing or something of that sort.  In short, talk of the president who two years ago moved a nation now generated zero enthusiasm in a tent of his nominal supporters.  Indeed, theirs was an unmistakably air of baffled embarrassment.

To this I added rage.  I told the men that the American public school system had never encountered as insidious and pernicious an enemy as is the administration of Barack Obama; told the men that Obama’s signature education plan — Race To the Top – was nothing more than a union busting extortion racket that had no place in a democratic society, never mind a public school system and that in two years the man   had done more damage to schools, students   and teachers then George W. Bush could even dream of.  And Obama was only beginning: The end game was the de-profession of the teaching profession, the destruction of the teachers union (and eventually all unions ) and the handing over off the public school system —  the cornerstone of  public life in America —  to the same private sector  who have done such a  splendid  job of  bringing the world to the very edge of  economic collapse.

This, as they say, did not go over well.

A profound silence filled the air. I reminded these decent and well-meaning men that I was not the enemy. Indeed, I reminded then that I was incubated in a union household in which men such as Governor Al Smith and Franklin Deleno Roosevelt were heroes and in which the murdered Kennedy brothers were spoken of in reverence, not merely as Irish Catholic brethren who inspired the world, but as men of empathy and wisdom with courage enough to admit they were wrong and change their minds when such was the right thing to do. I reminded the men that the Democratic party they labored for and which I was expected to sentimentally support bore no relation whatsoever to the Democratic party in which I was raised and which help lift my family to a decent and dignified way of life.   Indeed, in many aspects it now functioned as a parody of such.

None of what I said was challenged.  Once again, one of the men repeated the feeble line about the other side being  even worse.  I have heard this now for years, indeed, for my entire adult life.  I have heard it from all manner of folk who ought to and do know better. I’ve heard it from a couple of fellow teachers at the Save Our Schools rally in DC in July  who defended the National Education Association’s pathetic decision to endorse Barack Obama even as his education policies demonize, demoralize and destroy their members all  across the country.  I hear it in the wind as the choice we are given — pathetic Obama or shill Mitt Romney or insane, spiteful Michelle Bachman or whomever the Tea Party will vomit up — comes into focus.

So, once again I am driven to the inescapable conclusion that in America, the land of the free and home of the brave, politics have boiled down to this horrific, pathetic and suicidal equation: if you think your life will suck under Y, think how much more it will suck under X.

And yet we have the gall to say we are free.

I know not a single, thoughtful soul who is enthusiastic about the Democratic Party.  Not a one.  I know and have seen much enthusiasm in the Tea Party, particularly among those who do not understand that their beloved party was founded and is in large part funded by billionaires who despise them; by those who cannot distinguish between someone who holds a different opinion from them and a communist or a Nazi.

I am fearful, very fearful of the country my little girl will grow up in.