Monday, July 15, 2013

Critics of Tim Wise for Support for Teach For America

Posted to MORE Listserves
Dear New Orleans activists,

Some of you may remember Tim Wise, who was an anti-apartheid activist at Tulane in the late 1980s, and then went onto to work with the Louisiana Coalition Against Racism and Nazism (LCARN), one of the organizations that emerged in the fight against David Duke's various runs for state wide offices in the late 80s and early 90s. He later worked with the corporate foundation-funded non-profit Agenda For Children, which was also a part of the STICC outfit that was involved in the demise of the St Thomas public housing development.

Since leaving New Orleans in the mid 90s he has put his oratorical skills to use by developing  a lucrative career as a nationally renowned    "anti-racist" lecturer. As he often mentions in his lectures and writings to underscore his grassroots credentials, he was trained by the New Orleans-based People's Institute in his anti-racism work. Unsurprisingly, like the People's Institute, who assisted developer Joe Canizaro by putting a progressive anti-racist veneer on the destruction of the St Thomas public housing development  the 1990s, Tim Wise is doing the same for the hedge funders and other billionaires  bankrolling the charter school movement.  He has agreed to speak to a national gathering of "Teach For America", which is a key player in the assault on public education.
Black Agenda Report, edited by Bruce Dixon and Glen Ford, who many of you are familiar with and who have written some of best critiques of the Obama administration, including the regime's "anti-racist" backers, have called on Wise to cancel his planned talk. Below is an article Bruce Dixon wrote on Wise and his planned TFA address, and the petition demanding that Wise cancel.

Please sign the petition and pass onto others.

article by Bruce Dixon: Why Is Tim Wise Stamping the Anti-Racist Ghetto Passes at Teach For America

In addition I have attached a really rotten piece that Wise wrote undermining support for the courageous Edward Snowden while employing  a 'progressive', anti-racist cover.

Finally, below is an article by Adolph Reed critiquing the dead  end that of the 'anti-racism' politics of people like Tim Wise "
Sean Ahern responded:

I sent this note to Tim Wise
Dear Mr Wise,
I have read Bruce Dixon’s article and your response. I gather you will not be canceling your speaking engagement with Teach For America on July 27.  What’s next?
What are you going to say to Teach for America about Teach for America? Some internal reflection there  might at least cause some defections.
Here are a few suggestions for what you might say (By the way I am a NYC public school teacher who hopes that everyone with a heart and a brain who hasn’t already cut their ties to TFA will do so shortly): 
1) Michelle Rhee cheats on tests and lies about it afterwards.
2) Rhee engaged in a witch hunt against Black teachers while she was in charge of the DC school system.
3) According to an internal United Federation of Teachers (UFT) report, TFA has contributed to the decline in the hiring of Black and Latino teachers in NYC schools under the Bloomberg school dictatorship..

4) Teach for America is part of the corporate led assault on public education in the large urban centers where the majority of students negatively affected are Black and Latino.
5) There is no “crisis of education” in the US and replacing “bad” teachers with “good” teachers is a toxic “remedy” for an already false diagnosis.
6) Contrary to what Michelle Rhee says, Unions for school workers are good things and should be expanded to include independent  parent and student unions so that schools rule themselves and  may dispense with unaccountable overseers, mayoral dictatorships and condescending saviors.
Even a bad union has benefits. For example, my own union The UFT is the largest teacher union local in the USA and it has  a terrible history of siding with administration in defending white privilege to the detriment of their members and the communities served.  In spite of this negative self destructive history the union leadership, to date at least, has not yet given up the city wide seniority system (last in first out) with regards to layoffs.  This provision, a legacy from the Shanker era, has slowed the disappearing of Black and Latino teachers in NYC and offered some protection from the Chicago scenario where city wide seniority was not in the CTU contract and school closings in Black and Latino communities have resulted in a precipitous loss of jobs for Black and Latino teachers, school aides and janitors.  Unfortunately this provision offers no protection to the students in the schools being closed who are just shuttled around to the next closing school.
Here are two suggestions for what you might do before July 27:

1)  Ask a leader of the CTU (Karen Lewis is a great speaker and former stand up comedian) to accompany you to the TFA meeting and inform them ahead of time that a CTU leader will be part of your presentation.
2)  If the CTU can’t or won’t join you, inform the TFA that you will donate your speaking fee to the CTU strike benefit fund.
By now you get the gist.  I wish you had declined the offer on the 27th but second best would be for the TFA to cancel your engagement once they are apprised of your resolve to speak frankly.  The publicity gained might even turn out to be good for your business.  In any case, TFA is a sinking ship [Teach For America's Civil War: Organizing Resistance....]  Just hope you are not on board.
Sean Ahern 

Quick background on my comments on Tim Wise...
Mark Naison 8:13am Jul 12
Quick background on my comments on Tim Wise before I return to my cruise. I have long been an admirer of Tim Wise's writings, but have, for the last two years, tried, without success to get him to critically comment on the Obama administrations education policies, especially school closings and teacher firings which have devastated inner city communities. I have emailed him and tweeted him repeatedly, always politely and respectfully, and heard not a word. And I ended up concluding that like the commentators on MSNBC, he didn't want to publicly criticize the
Obama Administrations education policies. Hearing that he agreed to speak to Teach for America at a time when that organization is coming into cities which have fired large number of lifetime educators was the last straw. I had to say something about how wrong i think this is, and how it reflects a larger issue with his worldview. It doesn't mean that I have written off the positive things he has done.

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