Friday, October 24, 2008

Bill Ayres Follow-up

UPDATED:

One of the first things I learned upon becoming an activist beginning in 1970 that the Weatherman movement functioned as a destroyer of the progressive movement and that people like Bill Ayres were anti-union leftists.

When I said this in the post previous to this, Fred Klonsky disputed me. I backed off. Then Michael Fiorillo followed up and nailed Ayres as an arrogant elitist supporter of the Chicago school model of "reform". I'll go with Mike.


Hello All,

Ayers was an arrogant fool back in the day, and he's an arrogant fool now.

In the '60's, Weatherman, of which Ayers was a founder, was roundly criticized for their dogmatism, arrogance and idiocy. As Kirkpatrick Sale wrote in his history of SDS, it was common among Weatherman's critics to turn the source of their name (from Bob Dylan's "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing,") against them by saying,"You don't need a rectal thermometer to know who the assholes are." True then and now.

Just as Weatherman represented the dissolution and demise of the New Left, Ayers work for small schools has shown an incredible naivete, having been hijacked by the corporate ed reform movement to destroy neighborhood schools and neutralize/weaken and ultimately destroy teacher unions. I met him at my school about 8 years ago and found that arrogance and sense of privilege - his father was the Chairman of Chicago's electric utility - intact. It seems to me that he has used his work in education to rehabilitate himself. However, no matter what the Right may think, the Left should disregard him.

Best,
Michael Fiorillo

Mike Klonsky has left a new comment on your post "Bill Ayres Follow-up":

Sad to see leftists and progressive educators piling on Bill Ayers right at this opportune moment and pronouncing various educators at "anti-union." The Weatherman faction of SDS is pretty easy pickens from the right or the left. I ought to know, having led the fight against them in 1968. Problem is, that was 40 years ago and the Weather faction is not really the problem facing New York's teachers or their union at this moment.

And the charge that Ayers is "anti-union" today, or that he supports the current Chicago school reform initiative, Renaissance 2010, is pure bullshit and the people feeding you that crap know it. So if you are really interested in this question, read Bill and my Kappan (Feb. 2006) articles, "Renaissance 2010 Meets the Ownership Society" and
"Private Management of Chicago Schools is a Long Way from Mecca," and then go back and tell my brother Fred that he was right all along, and send Bill a note of apology.

Mike Klonsky

2 comments:

  1. Sad to see leftists and progressive educators piling on Bill Ayers right at this opportune moment and pronouncing various educators at "anti-union." The Weatherman faction of SDS is pretty easy pickens from the right or the left. I ought to know, having led the fight against them in 1968. Problem is, that was 40 years ago and the Weather faction is not really the problem facing New York's teachers or their union at this moment.

    And the charge that Ayers is "anti-union" today, or that he supports the current Chicago school reform initiative, Renaissance 2010, is pure bullshit and the people feeding you that crap know it. So if you are really interested in this question, read Bill and my Kappan (Feb. 2006) articles, "Renaissance 2010 Meets the Ownership Society" and
    "Private Management of Chicago Schools is a Long Way from Mecca," and then go back and tell my brother Fred that he was right all along, and send Bill a note of apology.

    Mike Klonsky

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hello All,

    My original comment about Bill Ayers was not intended to address whether he has anti-union sentiments. I assume he would declare he does not, and I would believe him.

    But that was not really the purpose of my posting, though I perhaps could have expressed it more clearly.

    The point to be made about Weatherman was less its arrogance - which was ample - but rather its self-delusion, and there continues to be much self-delusion among so-called political progressives who've signed on to various ed reform programs, only to have them highjacked by the corporate drive to control and privative public education, with its beach head being urban school systems. From what I've read, that drive has been underway longest and has achieved its greatest influence in Chicago, with DC quickly gaining ground.

    Mr. Klonsky, please point out what Mr. Ayers has done to resist these attacks against public education, teachers unions and democracy, by Messrs. Daley, Duncan and others, and I will stand corrected.

    Small schools, and charters as well, have often been pushed by well-meaning people who were then overwhelmed by the tsunami of corporate and foundation money that used the force if its investments to put in place policies that are anti-student and anti-teacher. Anything short of open and active opposition to this is political log-rolling.

    Call me old-fashioned, but I don't think that activism that results in the neutralization and weakening of unions - even ones as incompetent and misguided as most AFT Locals - constitutes progressive politics.

    And it's self-delusion to claim otherwise.

    Michael Fiorillo

    ReplyDelete

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