“Though we have heard of stupid haste in war, cleverness has never been seen associated with long delays.” Sun Tzu, the Art of War.
It’s an action packed and thought-filled week as we head into what were the holidays, once. Check out the links below to see the brewing wars in education, on the battlefield, and in the economy—and the rising resistance as well.
But first—Fun: Obvious-Man vs Capitalist Democracy: www.gocomics.com/nonsequitur/ (Check Dec 13).
On the Education Agenda is a War Agenda Front:
In Detroit, hysteria fostered by the Broad Foundation, the Michigan Governor, the Mayor of Detroit, and the Detroit Federation of Teachers’ bosses has the public demanding teachers be jailed for the kids’ NEAP test scores: www.detnews.com/article/20091212/SCHOOLS/912120373/Detroit-parents-want-DPS-teachers–officials-jailed-over-low-test-scores/?imw=Y
At the same time, rank and filers prepare for yet another Detroit schools wildcat strike:
Review for yourself the pressure the DFT dishonestly applies on members and the sellout contract: mi.aft.org/dft231/
In Michigan, Low Test Scores Fuel Attack on Educators and Kids with NEA and AFT backing:
www.detnews.com/article/20091209/SCHOOLS/912090368/Detroit-schools–test-results-could-fuel-reform-push while Detroit News Urges Mayor to Follow Michelle Rhee and the D.C AFT: www.detnews.com/article/20091209/OPINION01/912090314 where Randi Weingarten joins Darling-Hammond, The Wretched Caroline Kennedy, and Broad: www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/03/AR2009050301872.html
DFT President, in Tandem With Broad Foundation and Skillmans, uses NAEP Results to Try to Ram Through Give-back Contract (Merit Pay, Peer Review, wage and benefit concessions, etc.)
“The results, Johnson stressed, should not be a comment on the commitment of teachers. And a tentative agreement between the district and teachers calls for reforms like peer review and teacher evaluations that help instructors build in their strengths”
Meanwhile, In DC where Michelle Rhee hired 900 teachers over the summer, then fired more than 250 senior teachers in October, WTU members claim that the union’s lawyers failed in their duty to represent them when they managed to lose the case. Members demand an appeal
Reactionary Post Columnist Jay Matthews Touts AFT’s President Weingarten for the next Czar in DC schools. Makes all the sense in the world.
Protestors Attack UC Hack—at Home: “ Eight people were under arrest Saturday after protesters broke windows, lights and planters outside the home of the chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley. University spokesman Dan Mogulof said 40 to 70 protesters also threw incendiary devices at police cars and the home of Chancellor Robert Birgeneau about 11 p.m. Friday. There were no fires or injuries.”
26 More Students Arrested in California: Campus and city police entered the business administration building and ended the occupation at 3:15 a.m., university spokeswoman Ellen Griffin said. But Berkeley’s Wheeler Hall Remains a Freedom School:
LA’s “Pilot Schools”: Strategic Hamlets? Charters operate independent of direct district control and are free from some rules that govern traditional schools, including adherence to L.A. Unified’s union contracts….Local school officials and the teachers union have reached a tentative deal that would help groups of teachers bid for control of 30 campuses under a recently adopted school-reform plan….The agreement, announced today, would allow the number of “pilot schools” in the Los Angeles Unified School District to increase from 10 to 30. Pilots are small schools where teachers, administrators and community members have broad latitude to establish the rules under which the school operates. Unlike charter schools, the pilots remain closely affiliated with the district, and employees retain their representation by district unions.” latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2009/12/deal-would-let-la-teachers-create-pilot-schools.html
On the Class War in the Economy Front:
Matt Taibbi: “Barack Obama ran for president as a man of the people, standing up to Wall Street as the global economy melted down in that fateful fall of 2008. He pushed a tax plan to soak the rich, ripped NAFTA for hurting the middle class and tore into John McCain for supporting a bankruptcy bill that sided with wealthy bankers “at the expense of hardworking Americans.” Obama may not have run to the left of Samuel Gompers or Cesar Chavez, but it’s not like you saw him on the campaign trail flanked by bankers from Citigroup and Goldman Sachs. What inspired supporters who pushed him to his historic win was the sense that a genuine outsider was finally breaking into an exclusive club, that walls were being torn down, that things were, for lack of a better or more specific term, changing. Then he got elected.What’s taken place in the year since Obama won the presidency has turned out to be one of the most dramatic political about-faces in our history.… Neil Barofsky, the inspector general charged with overseeing TARP, estimates that the total cost of the Wall Street bailouts could eventually reach $23.7 trillion. And while the government continues to dole out big money to big banks, Obama and his team of Rubinites have done almost nothing to reform the warped financial system…What we do know is that Barack Obama pulled a bait-and-switch on us. If it were any other politician, we wouldn’t be surprised. Maybe it’s our fault, for thinking he was different. ” www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/31234647/obamas_big_sellout?action=rate#rate
Failed United Auto Workers hack Bob King who negotiated contract members rejected to become next UAW Prezzie and the contract is “Imposed,”: “In a stunning role reversal, Gettelfinger told UAW employees Thursday that he would impose the terms of a concessionary contract that they voted down last month. That means reduced benefits for the union’s own retirees and requires each UAW employee to take a two-week unpaid furlough or give up their 401(k) matching contribution next year.”
What shall we call the UAW and other “unions,” when they aren’t what most people think a union is?
Bernie Sanders Slams Bernanke: “ What the American people did not bargain for was another four years for one of the key architects of the Bush economy. Before Ben Bernanke became the Fed chairman in 2006, he headed the council of economic advisers for President Bush – one of the most right-wing presidents in American history. He also sat on the Fed board of governors from 2002 to 2005. Perhaps more than anyone else, Bernanke was in a position to diagnose the impending economic disaster and take steps to stop it. Tragically, not only did he fail to prevent the economic collapse that we have experienced, he did not even warn the American people that it was coming until it was too late. Equally distressing, his actions since the crisis began may leave taxpayers holding the bag for an even bigger bailout in the future. . . Since Bernanke took over as Fed chairman in 2006, unemployment has more than doubled and, today, 17.5 percent of the American workforce is either unemployed or underemployed. Not since the Great Depression has the financial system been as unsafe, unsound, and unstable as it has been during Mr. Bernanke’s tenure. More than 120 banks have failed since he became chairman.
And on the Perpetual War Front Where Children of the Poor Fight Other Children of the Poor on Behalf of the Rich in Their Homelands:
Petraeus Promises a Long and Expensive War: America’s involvement in Afghanistan could stretch on for years and cost upward of $10 billion annually just to finance an adequate Afghan security force, the overall commander in the region told Congress on Wednesday.
Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the commander, Gen. David H. Petraeus, one of the military’s most influential generals, estimated that building and maintaining a combined army and police force of 400,000 — a size that American commanders believe may eventually be needed to fully secure the country — would cost more than $10 billion a year.
On Tuesday, President Hamid Karzai, at a news conference with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, said Afghanistan would not be able to pay for its own security until at least 2024, an assertion that surprised Mr. Gates and drew expressions of concern from senators of both parties.
Chris Hedges, Liberals are Useless: “Anyone who says he or she cares about the working class in this country should have walked out on the Democratic Party in 1994 with the passage of NAFTA. And it has only been downhill since. If welfare reform, the 1999 Financial Services Modernization Act, which gutted the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act—designed to prevent the kind of banking crisis we are now undergoing—and the craven decision by the Democratic Congress to continue to fund and expand our imperial wars were not enough to make you revolt, how about the refusal to restore habeas corpus, end torture in our offshore penal colonies, abolish George W. Bush’s secrecy laws or halt the warrantless wiretapping and monitoring of American citizens? The imperial projects and the corporate state have not altered under Obama.”
TomGram–The Nine Pronged Surge: “Whatever the Obama administration does in Afghanistan and Pakistan, however, the American ability to mount a sustained operation of this size in one of the most difficult places on the planet, when it can’t even mount a reasonable jobs program at home, remains a strange wonder of the world.” www.tomdispatch.com/post/175176/tomgram:__state_of_surge,_afghanistan/
A “Necessary War” — for a Gas Pipeline. It’s Obama’s War Now. www.counterpunch.org/leupp11302009.html
Spy vs Spy:
Yahoo Sells Its Users Emails: mathaba.net/news/?x=622292
Thanks to Amber, Adam and Gina, Andy, Kathy K., Nancy, Cheri and Sherry, Marc and Bonnie, Tommie Lee, Bob, both Bills, Susan O and H, Candace, Bryan, Tim, Donna, Arturo, Isabella, Mat, Ken and Jean, Kathryn, TC, Doug and Connie, Steve R., Jim O, Pete, Weird Eric, Edd, Susanne, Bonnie, Doug G, Kim B, Elaine H, Agops, Telly, and David.
Good luck to us, every one.
Letter to the Detroit News 12-09-09:
Let’s apply journalistic questions to the real crisis in DPS:
Who? Appointed by Democrat Granholm as Czar, Bob Bobb is loyal to the Broad Foundation, where he will return after Detroit. Now News columnist Burnam wants to make Bobb, “dictator.” Think twice.
DPS employees deserve some responsibility for the current DPS crisis, incompetence in academics and systematic corruption, but primary responsibility must lie with a series of corrupt and incompetent administrations (Takeover Board to Burnley to Calloway and the wacko current Board). Beyond that, a system propelled by greed and racism holds main responsibility for the ruin of civic life in Detroit.
What? Doing school reform without doing social and economic reform will fail. Only the dull or dishonest reject that. Bobb rejects it. Bobb arrived to restore order and hope to DPS by regimenting the curricula, pushing anti-working class high stakes exams, demanding merit pay to pit teachers vs teachers, schools vs schools, and kids vs kids, exacting draconian pay cuts, through privatization; all cooked in an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.
Bobb wants to rebuild hope in DPS because absent school-based hope, rebellions occur. It’s false hope. DPS will still be a pre-prison, pre-Walmart, pre-teacher, and for a very few, flight school district because that’s where the combination of greed and racism that makes up Detroit’s history leads. The key is discipline and order to create loyal, dutiful, and obedient youth, unlikely to rebel.
When? Fast. No thinking, the huckster’s tool.
Where? This is a nation wide flim-flam. It’s not just Detroit. It’s D.C., LA, Miami, New York, every big city in the US. Odd that in a nation desperate for jobs, the merger of corporate heads, union bosses, and government officials want to eradicate the jobs of school workers.
How: By attacking small time DPS crooks, ignoring big time crooks (contractors, developers, union hacks, top administrators), and going around the outright fools (the Board and many administrators) Bobb proves himself apt, but not honest.
Why? Because the education agenda, a bi–partisan effort, is a war agenda. Inside the US, it is a war on educators, among the last people with fairly predictable jobs, health benefits, and pensions in the country. It is a war on youth, using bogus forms of science (test scores that measure little more than income and race), to deepen segregation and prepare kids for a life of no jobs, bad jobs, prison, or the military where they will be enlisted by the economy to fight other poor kids, on behalf of the rich in their homelands.
People will resist. At issue is whether or not they make sense of things and fight back in ways that truly connect reason to power. We need no more dictators.
Dr Rich Gibson
Emeritus Professor of Education
San Diego State University
Fight Back Against Budget Cuts At California Colleges And Universities
The Radical Caucus of the Modern Language Association supports the California students, faculty and campus workers who are fighting against budget cuts, fee increases, furloughs, and firings. We encourage all MLA members to support the Californians’ fightback.
This year California cut more than $800 million from the University of California (UC) statewide budget, $500 million from the California State University (CSU) system, and $700 million from California Community Colleges (CCC). University and college administrators reacted by eliminating programs and support services, reducing enrollments, offering fewer courses, cutting staff and faculty salaries via furloughs, and laying off hundreds of instructors and non-academic campus workers. To make matters worse, UC and CSU have hiked their fees by 32%, placing the cost of attending college out of reach for many students from low and middle income families. As a result of California’s downsizing of higher education, CSU will cut its enrollment by 40,000 students over the next two years, and CCC will force out a whopping 250,000 students. Working-class families, already facing a 12.2% unemployment rate in California, will be the hardest hit. Since September 24 of this year, thousands of students, workers and faculty have organized teach-ins, rallies, demonstrations, marches, walkouts, strikes and occupations to stop the cuts. Even though university administrators claim that students have the right to “free speech,” protesters at various campuses have been beaten by the police and arrested..
The California budget cuts?and the fee increases at four-year schools?smack of racism because students of color will feeel the effects of these cuts the most. But the cutbacks are also racist in a more devastating political sense. Tragically, while CSU will reduce enrollment by 40,000 students next year, the state has approved AB 900, a law that allocates $7.7 billion to add 40,000 new beds for prison inmates?on top of the $12 billion a year the state spends on prison operating costs. By 2012 California will spend more on prisons than it does on education. There is a direct correlation between the lack of educational opportunities and imprisonment: 18-to-24-year-old male high school dropouts have an incarceration rate 31 times that of males who graduate from a four-year college. And California’s prison inmates are overwhelmingly Black and Latino. Every dollar cut from higher education increases the likelihood of young men of color being siphoned away from higher education and toward a racist prison system.
The financial problems of colleges and universities are directly linked to US capitalism’s current economic crisis?the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression. With the collapse of the banking system last year, predatory banks and speculators wiped out vast amounts of capital, including capital used to sustain colleges and universities. While the federal government has spent billions to bailout banks and corporations, it has invested only a pittance on bailing out schools and colleges. In an exposé of capitalist greed, the California Budget Project has shown that California’s 1993 tax cuts benefiting corporations and the wealthy cost the state $11.7 billion in 2005-6 and $12 billion in 2007-2008. Had the state continued taxing at rates equal to those fifteen years ago, there would be no budget crisis in California—or at least it would be far less severe. What’s more, the economic crisis is bound up in a larger global crisis involving imperialist occupations and war. The US spends close to a trillion dollars a year on wars to dominate oil production and pipelines in the Middle East and Central Asia. Obama’s recent escalation of the wars in Afghanistan-Pakistan (at $30 billion and counting) and the continued occupation of Iraq make clear that this president plans to continue Bush’s policy of overspending endlessly on wars.
The struggle against budget cuts at UC, CSU and CCC is a political struggle: a fight against the decision of the state to make students, faculty and workers pay for the profit losses of capitalist corporations. MLA members should support the movement of students, faculty and workers in California because their fight is our fight. We support a second federal stimulus bill to fund higher education nationwide. We support Californians’ fight to abolish racist prisons and increase state funds for higher education: “No cutbacks! No fee increases! No furloughs! No firings!” We don’t want pie in the sky. We want to restore the 1960 California Master Plan for Higher Education in which public colleges were free for all and which guaranteed a place for all California students who wanted to go.
Radical Caucus of the MLA