Posts Tagged ‘The New York Times’

Is the New York Times a Subsidiary of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation?

December 3, 2013

Sez "Common Core is Good For You !"

Given their recurrent vicious if vacuous opinion pieces on the deceitfully named Common Core, I was under no illusions that the editors of The New York Times were in any way supporters of public education and public school teachers. Not by a long shot. Even still, I could not help but be appalled by the editor’s parroting of virtually every platform, no matter how discredited and despised, of the corporate reform agenda in the guise of advising Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio on how to handle the United Federation of Teachers in the wake of Mike Bloomberg’s disastrous twelve year reign.

If the editors were less weasel worded and more honest their advice to de Blasio could have been delivered in a single sentence: Wreck the school system if you have to, but continue the work of your predecessor in breaking the union to the point where it exists but is utterly powerless so we may have political cover when the school system is finally completely privatized.

Instead, they chose to suggest de Blasio implement failed policies and repeat ugly and false statements not merely as it they were true, but as if they were common knowledge. Consider the following line, on loan, apparently from the New York Post : “The union must also let go of the unspoken presumption that every teacher is entitled to a job for life.”
I’m not sure what an “unspoken presumption” is or how, if “unspoken,” the editors of the Times divined it, but I do know that I have been a member of the UFT for almost a decade and I’ve never heard or divined anything remotely resembling this sentiment. Quite the contrary, I, like thousands of my fellow teachers, have heard UFT President Mulgrew state openly and unambiguously that teaching is tough work and not everyone can do it.

Continuing to exhibit the astounding ignorance of its opinion writers, the editors go on to bemoan state laws protecting teacher seniority — laws common to all civil service jobs and passed as a modicum of protection against racism, nepotism, and cronyism — as if these were the handiwork of the union, designed specifically to protect lousy old teachers at the expense of “excellent” young ones.
Note: “Excellence”, like “flexibility”, are words that no piece of reform propaganda can do without.
The editors find a splendid model for de Blasio to work with in the “progressive systems like the one found in Washington D.C., which made big gains on federal assessment tests.” Incredibly, the editors seem wholly unaware of the scandals looming over that city ever since Michele Rhee flew out of town on her broom. The goal of the D.C. system, intones the Times “is to keep the most talented teachers.”
Generously, the editors leave to the reader’s imagination the goal of the NYC teacher’s union.

Apparently, in much the same way that for hedge funders “charters schools” are monuments of “civil rights, ’ for the editors of the New York Times, “progressive” is now synonymous with “corporate business model. ”
Like all education reformers the editors of the Times are deeply concerned with the well being of young teachers because “ younger teachers start out with relatively low salaries and are at risk of leaving the system for higher pay elsewhere.”
But not to worry. “ The scales should be rebalanced so that teachers who are judged highly effective under the new evaluation system can move up quickly in the pay scale.”
Wow! Combining a divisive and decomposing scheme like merit pay (that for decades has failed and failed and failed ) with an evaluation system that is as loathed as it is incomprehensible as a platform for “excellence” takes some kind of editorial cake! Even in the flatulent halls of education reform!

The editors then go on to steal a page from the egregious Campbell Brown, who has parlayed her status as a former ersatz journalist into a career as an ersatz parent activist with one issue: teacher sexual misconduct which, she claims, the UFT monstrously protects. This despite the fact that, contractually, any teacher found guilty of such charges must be fired. Brown, like Bloomberg, finds it outrageous that arbitrators find many who are accused of such despicable acts innocent and, like Mike Bloomberg, wants the chancellor to be the judge and jury in every case, due process be damned.

Apparently, and disgracefully, so do the Times. Except, unlike even Campbell Brown, they haven’t even the courage to spell it out.

Finally, knowing that every union busting agenda is incomplete without lines about the wonders of the “ city’s thriving charter schools “, which the Times erroneously states are “on average, out performing traditional school.” Of these miraculous institutions the editors write the following: “One of their advantages is that individual charter schools can set many of their own rules, scheduling longer school days and making more time for parent-teacher conferences. Traditional schools often follow a by-the-book approach that dictates the length of the day, frequency of meetings and so on.”

By claiming that charters can make “ more time for parent-teacher conferences, “ the Times sells the charters way, way short. Charters seem to be able to do just about anything they want. Charter schools can and do force parents to sign contracts with them, obliging the parents to do all kinds of things or find their charge out in the street, a trick not legally available to a “traditional school.” And who can forget Eva Moskowitz leading hundreds of children and teachers on an anti de Blasio protest over the Brooklyn Bridge in school hours on the public dime. Indeed, if a public school tried any of such stunts – the contracts, the expulsions, the publicly funded political action during instructional time — the principal would unquestionably be fired and possibly arrested and featured for days on the cover of the Post.

I find it impossible to believe, cocooned that they are, that the editors of the times are not aware of these facts. And reprehensible that they pretend not to be.

Like the Time’s “ unspoken presumption that every teacher is entitled to a job for life,” the Times “ by-the-book approach that dictates the length of the day, frequency of meetings and so on, “ of public schools is something I have only heard of and heard of only from corporate reform union busters. I have never ever remotely experienced such a thing as a teacher.

Never.

So there you have it. Every word of an editorial from the most powerful and influential newspaper in America that could have been issued from the public relations department of the ubiquitous Gates Foundation or the Broad Foundation or Students First or any number of the ever multiplying billionaire based “reform” groups who care so deeply about America’s children and speak so contemptuously and ignorantly about America’s teachers.

Every word.

And here we are.

On “Left Wing Paranoia” and the Conspiracy to Privatize Public Education

November 26, 2013

On the very same day the New York Times saw fit to publish an opinion piece in which Frank Bruni snidely and condescendingly dismissed the factually based claims of those who are paying close attention to who and what is fueling education reform as the “welling hysteria” of “left wing paranoiacs,” the Times Union published an article confirming the worst fears of those who have been monitoring the stealth campaign – or, if you will, conspiracy — to privatize the American public school system as rapidly, surreptitiously and insidiously as possible. The process is well under way and proceeds, as often as not, extra legislatively, undermining the remnant of our enfeebled democracy at every turn.

The Times Union article, titled “Wealth Backs Reform,” describes nothing less than a privately paid shadow agency of “advisors” to the New York State Regents. The backers of the group are virtually the same mega rich individuals and the same mega rich foundations that bankroll virtually every angle of “education reform” from massive semi-secret projects like the Common Core to phony teacher groups like Educators4Excellence, phony parent groups like Parent Revolution or public relations events like Education Nation. Again and again and again you find Bill Gates, Eli Broad, the Walton’s of Wal-Mart infamy, and an array of neo-liberal foundations. These are not, as Bruni would have it, the hallucinations of “left-wing paranoiacs, who imagine some conspiracy to ultimately privatize education and create a new frontier of profits for money-mad plutocrats.”
They really are money-mad plutocrats and the campaign or conspiracy to privatize our education system is as real as the eyes in our heads for those who choose not to be blind.

The revelation of the shadow regents, like all the information surrounding “education reform” should shock and disgust all who believe in accountable, representative government. It should also sober up those who, like Bruni, seem to be drunk to the point of madness on the elixir of neo liberalism and plutocracy even as neo liberalism and plutocracy degrade and debase everything and everyone they touch.

Addendum: I learned only after I had written this piece that Bruni is a food critic, a fact that partially explains his complete ignorance of the subject on which he pontificated but does not excuse his arrogance. The fact that the New York Times allowed a food critic ample space in which to babble on about education is merely a continuation of their unstated but apparent belief that just about everyone is an expert on education excepting the people actually engaged in it on a daily basis, which is to say, teachers or, through their children, parents.

Post script: Herein is a link to an article in a mainstream news outlet reporting a secret meeting of millionaires and billionaires, among them Gates, Bloomberg and Jeb Bush, all whom are deeply involved and invested in “education reform. Mr. Gates claimed the meeting concerned the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which it may well have done. But anyone who has been in anyway following anything that has been done in education for the past decade knows the Bill and Melina Gates Foundation has bankrolled and largely dictated just about every aspect of it. They also know that Arne Duncan takes his marching orders from Gates and that the Common Core is largely the product of Gates and his Foundation. Indeed, it is impossible to conceive of “education reform” without the Foundation. This, despite the fact that Gates is a private citizen and the DOE is a vital public trust.
Given this, I would love to hear Mr. Bruni and anyone else who speaks so contemptuously of “left wing paranoia” explain this little gathering of concerned citizens.

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.

New York Times Editorials Reveal A Complete Ignorance of Common Core

August 20, 2013

DownloadedFile

But two days after a sizable anti-Common Core rally in suburban Port Jefferson, Long Island, the venerable New York Times saw fit to publish not one but two editorials in two days, not merely praising the Common Core State Standards, but attempting to reduce almost all criticism of it to right wing nut jobs like Glenn Beck and the Tea Party. To make matters worse, the editorials were written by Times heavy hitters Bill Keller and, sadly, Paul Krugman. Both articles reveal Keller and Krugman to be completely ignorant of both the Common Core Standards themselves, their genesis, as well as to the ever widening and deepening political opposition to the entire billion-dollar Common Core campaign.
Nonetheless both articles are a massive public relations gift to corporate education reformers nation wide – and you can rest assured they will make use of them. Moreover, by insinuating that most opposition to the CCSS derives from the far right, the articles are simultaneously an insult to the hundreds of thousands of educators from coast to coast who distrust or even loathe the Common Core and all that it stands for — particularly the very real fear that intrinsically related high stakes testing combined with junk science testing will lead to their termination — as well as to leading education scholars and activists such as Diane Ravitch, Lois Wiener, Gary Rubinstein, Leonie Haimson, Arthur Goldstein, Carol Burris, Anthony Cody, and Susan O’Hanian, to name but a few. Both Keller and Krugman seem oblivious to them all.
Neither seems to be aware of the fact that the Common Core has never even been field tested.
Neither writer seems to be aware that states were pressured if not coerced into “adopting” the Common Core because they were bankrupt.
Neither writer seems aware of the fact that, so great are the potential corporate profits, states were pressured into signing on to the Common Core before it was even finished.
Neither writer seems to be aware than prominent educators ( as opposed to politicians and billionaires) and have very serious issues with how developmentally appropriate the Common Core actually is and some are nothing less than appalled.
Neither writer, that is, seems to have a clue.

Whereas Keller’s piece reads as if it were cribbed from Arne Duncan press releases with political slants provided by Thomas Friedman and David Brooks, Krugman’s piece reads like a dashed off afterthought, seemingly composed solely to support Keller’s would-be -arguments, and, highly uncharacteristic of Krugman’s work, contains not a single original thought. For his sake, I hope Krugman, always the most prescient and intrepid of the Times scribes, was drunk when he wrote it so that he might be excused for employing such extravagant or even silly language such as “ entirely praiseworthy” to describe a subject he clearly knows absolutely nothing about.

Note: I have read the Times consistently my entire adult life and I do not recall a single instance in which two writers wrote essentially the same article two days in a row on the same subject.

Given the prestige and national reach of the Times, the tag team approach is an immense gift to corporate reformers and, to that end, the timing of the articles could not have been better. There has been evidence of ever growing parental dissatisfaction over the CCSS since the 30% drop in test scores that were bizarrely celebrated by virtually the entire New York City and New York State education hierarchy. Such dissatisfaction culminated in Saturday’s rally on Long Island.
I lost respect for both Bill Keller in particular and the New York Times in general years ago when they both reduced themselves to mindless cheerleaders for the butchery of Iraq (it was not a war), which has been proven to have been exactly what many of it critics predicted it would be: a pointless, needless and grotesque slaughter based on deliberately falsified evidence, rank ideology and colossal hubris.

Structurally, minis the bloodshed and the bombs, something similar is afoot with the plutocrats and corporate America’s ceaseless and insidious campaign for the Common Core. So here we are a decade later with that debacle having receded from American consciousness altogether, and here is the same Bill Keller pontificating about yet another war ( “The War on the Core” ) based on falsified data, widely exaggerated threats with equal ignorance and hubris.

Oh! And let us not forget Condi Rice and Joel Klein declaring American education to be a threat to national security!

(Note: in the same way public relation firms tricked Americans into referring to McDonald’s as the almost familial “Mickey D’s”, adherents of the Common Core State Standards seem to refer to the thing, as does Keller, as the much cozier “the Core.”)
Whereas in Iraq there was falsified evidence, with the Core there simply is no evidence at all: the Common Core, like much of corporate education reform, is entirely faith based. It troubles Keller not at all that the deceptively named Common Core State Standards are yet another extra-legislative imposition created and engendered by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which has become the de facto US Department of Education with Bill, in the words of Diane Ravitch, “the nation’s Superintendent of schools. “

Keller essentially repeats a more conversational version of Common Core press releases including the outright lies that “ the Common Core was created with a broad, nonpartisan consensus of educators, convinced that after decades of embarrassing decline in K-12 education, the country had to come together on a way to hold our public schools accountable.”
Virtually noting of the above sentence is true. If there were any educators present in the creation of “ The Core “ they were tokens, there to give cover for its corporate genesis. Keller seems utterly unaware of the fact that “The Core” is, at best, a vast taxpayer funded experiment on American school children based on nothing but rhetoric. Everything that can be said about it is pure speculation.
To this, Keller and Krugman are oblivious or unconcerned. For Keller and Krugman, to be against “The Core” is to be aligned with right wing nut jobs like Glenn Beck or more sinister and shadowy Tea Party associates.
“But overwhelmingly,” writes Keller, “ the animus against the standards comes from the right.”
Wrong.
Curiously, Keller mocks as fantasy Beck’s fear of “bio wristbands, ” gizmos that sound incredibly similar to Bill Gates fascistic idea of students and teachers wearing “galvanic bracelets “ to somehow measure student engagement. “ Beck,” writes Keller, “ also appears to believe that the plan calls for children to be fitted with bio-wristbands and little cameras so they can be monitored at all times for corporate exploitation.”
That said, I have no illusions as to the continued power of the Times to influence middle class America, to convince them, even with the intellectual shabbiness of these articles, that to be against the sacred Common Core is to be with Glen Beck and his paranoid yokels. This is bad. It is so bad that it behooves every parent and educator in America to write the Times and speak his or her truth to power. Who knows, if enough do and do so with clarity, a man like Krugman could even become a powerful ally.