Sunday, November 19, 2017

How Education Reform Ate the Democratic Party - Clintons Led the Way in Attack on Teacher Unions

This article is so good I want to print it out and eat it. Thanks to Patrick Walsh for sending this along.

Jennifer Berkshire in an in depth exposure of the Clintons' role and neo-lib Dems in leading ed deform attack on teachers and their unions, which was also chronicled as a positive by the Richard Kahlenberg book on Al Shanker (Tough Liberal), who was a Clinton partner --- instead of opposing he had the AFT/UFT work with them. [See Vera and my review in New Politics of the book where we refer to Shanker as a Ruthless Neocon].
To begin to chronicle the origin of the Democrats’ war on their own—the public school teachers and their unions that provide the troops and the dough in each new campaign cycle to elect the Democrats—is to enter murky territory. The Clintons were early adopters; tough talk against Arkansas’ teachers, then among the poorest paid in the country, was a centerpiece of Bill’s second stint as Governor of Arkansas.
.... as America ponders the mounting economic disequlibriums that gave rise to the Trump insurgency, concerned plutocrats can all agree on one key article of faith: what is holding back the poor and minority children who figure so prominently in the glossy brochures of charter school advocates is not the legacy of racist housing policy or mass incarceration or a tax system that hoovers up an ever growing share of income into the pockets of the wealthy, but schoolteachers and their unions.... Jennifer Berkshire,
This is a must read article -- for a decade we have been talking about the Clinton role in opening up the war on teachers back in Arkansas - as I said but can't say often enough, Al Shanker, head of the AFT and UFT joined them as a partner and led the way for teacher unions to walk into the world of ed deform for 30 years instead of opposing it and Randi followed along in spades -- the classic frog being boiled. Unfortunately Jennifer doesn't go the role the union played in this article. [Note to Randi haters who call her a sellout and who wish for the days of Shanker -- she was chosen by Shanker and Feldman for that very reason.]

The disappearing black teacher linked to ed deform [one third of NYC public schools have no black or Latino teachers today.]
Civil rights groups fiercely opposed the most controversial feature of the Clintons’ reform agenda—competency tests for teachers—on the grounds that Black teachers, many of whom had attended financially starved Black colleges, would disproportionately bear their brunt.
We saw the classic of ed deform was a disappearing of black teachers, many from the communities and their replacement by temp TFA white inexperienced people. In NYC alone thousands of teachers of color were fired 20 years ago over licensing issues related to the test teachers had to take. I knew some excellent teachers in my school who fell into this category.

We know ed notes readers so pissed at the Dem party role in ed deform they wouldn't vote for Hillary even though it will be proven that was also suicidal. Reason? The Dem Party centrists are being forced to back off ed deform -- witness Cuomo - even though if given a choice of him or Trump I would have a very hard time.

Here is another quote about a leading Dem:
Osborne told an interviewer that teachers unions belong in the same category with segregationist Alabama governor George Wallace. “They’re actually doing what George Wallace did, standing in the schoolhouse door, denying opportunity to poor minority kids.” To document their perfidy, Osborne cited the opposition of teachers unions in Massachusetts last year to Question Two—a ballot initiative proposing dramatic charter school expansion. Voters rejected the measure by nearly two to one—the same ratio, as it happens, by which wealthy pro-charter donors dwarfed the union spending that so upset Osborne.

Jennifer ties other leading Dems into the neoliberal deform movement

By the early 1980s, there was already a word for turning public institutions upside down: neoliberalism. Before it degenerated into a flabby insult, neoliberal referred to a self-identified brand of Democrat, ready to break with the tired of dogmas of the past. “The solutions of the thirties will not solve the problems of the eighties,” wrote Randall Rothenberg in his breathless 1984 paean to this new breed, whom he called simply The Neoliberals. His list of luminaries included the likes of Paul Tsongas, Bill Bradley, Gary Hart and Al Gore (for the record, Gore eschewed the neoliberal label in favor of something he liked to call “neopopulism”). In Rothenberg’s telling, the ascendancy of the neoliberals represented an economic repositioning of the Democratic Party that had begun during the economic crises of the 1970s. The era of big, affirmative government demanding action—desegregate those schools, clean up those polluted rivers, enforce those civil rights and labor laws—was over. It was time for fresh neo-ideas.

The link to the union capitulation is that Shanker endorsed the Nation at Risk in 1983 and unions stopped calling for lower class sizes and other real reforms -- that education can be reformed by getting more competent teachers and getting rid of so-called bad teachers -- and also -- using test scores to judge kids and teachers.

One more quote from Jennifer for those who don't get to the entire piece below -- something all of you should send out to everyone you work with and beyond.

Today’s Democratic school reformers—a team heavy on billionaires, pols on the move, and paid advocates for whatever stripe of fix is being sold—depict their distaste for regulation, their zeal for free market solutions as au courant thinking. They rarely acknowledge their neoliberal antecedents. The self-described radical pragmatists at the Progressive Policy Institute, for instance, got their start as Bill Clinton’s policy shop, branded as the intellectual home for New Democrats. Before its current push for charter schools, PPI flogged welfare reform. In fact, David Osborne, the man so fond of likening teacher unions to arch segregationists in the south, served as Al Gore’s point person for “reinventing government.” Today the model for Osborne’s vision for reinventing public education is post-Katrina New Orleans—where 7,500 mostly Black school employees were fired en route to creating the nation’s first nearly all-charter-school-system, wiping out a pillar of the city’s Black middle class in the process.

How Education Reform Ate the Democratic Party

The problem is that the Democrats have little to offer that’s markedly different from what DeVos is selling.

Read it all and tell me how it tastes:

1 comment:

  1. Nice article- I also remember a good, experienced teacher who had trouble with the new licensing issues.


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