Against Quisling Ravitch

by Rich Gibson, January 2014

Now comes the vacillating reactionary, Diane Ravitch, one of the high priestesses of the missions for capitalism and empire that are the segregated schools of the USA, declaring San Diego the “best urban school district in the nation.”

Ravitch is wrong. Ravitch lies.

San Diego now has a “good cop,” superintendent, something that would appeal to Ravitch, but beneath the new boss are all the commonplace realities of US mis-education:

*Racism and segregation: San Diego schools are segregated into community districts with wealthy areas systematically sealed off from the poor. Teachers in wealthy schools dress differently, teach different “facts,” using different methods from teachers on poorer areas, typically “south of the 8.”

One glaring example is Lincoln High School in a high-poverty minority community. Lincoln was completely rebuilt in 2006-2007 at a cost of $129 million. A new principal claimed the notoriously bad school would “rise like a Phoenix.” But the Phoenix is still dead, not rising. In the last three years, 30% of the student body quit Lincoln, voted with their feet, leaving behind a school worker force tense because of “over-staffing,” some at odds with a new principal, others backing her. At base, Lincoln is yet another example of Jean Anyon’s graphic adage: doing school reform without doing social and economic reform in communities is like washing the air on one side of a screen door. It won’t work.

*Empire: like the religious god-fearing patriot Ravitch, all San Diego schools are militarized, perhaps best exemplified in Ravitch’s muddled piece by the fact that the schools were recently run by a Navy admiral. But the daily drill of the Pledge, the mindless texts praising the US’ expansions, the eradication of the memory of the Vietnam wars, military recruiters all over the poorer schools and intelligence agencies canvassing richer ones (add in the local drone makers) and more are all typical of US schools, urban and rural.

*Class War: San Diego is currently bargaining with the utterly sold out, and typical, teachers’ union, the ranks owed a back raise and seeking a boost before the school year ends. But the bosses refuse to pay off the money owed and the union tops recently announced that they wouldn’t even seek it as the new boss is such a fine person. The San Diego Education Association played a big role in electing “progressives” (a term become utterly hollow) to the school board. The progressive do nothing to help SDEA’s ranks in bargaining–again to be expected. The idea that we are all in this together in one society, or one school system, an idea that Ravitch promotes everywhere, is a half-witted lie, appealing to suckers of all kinds.

*Ravitch is proud San Diego moved up on the NAEP, faster than other urban districts. That’s double edged blunder.

On the one hand, Ravitch fails, as do all of her ilk, to locate schools in their communities, within the system of capital, noting the schools are now the schools of a corporate state.

In the particular, that means San Diego is wealthier that most urban districts–the region keeping its truly poor on the other side of a national wall at Mexico, letting them in and kicking them out depending on the whims of profiteers. There is no poverty in San Diego that looks like Detroit, LA’s Compton, parts of Chicago, New York, Denver, or, say, Flint.

As to the test gains, they would have to be attributed to the former Admiral, or Alan Bersin, the fellow who claims credit for building the border fence and now serves the demagogue, Obama, as a “border Czar.”

On the other hand, the testing regimen does exactly what it is meant to do, create the next generation of workers, hopes tamped down, and warriors, inside the human munition factories.

*Ravitch also loves the American Federation of Teacher’s boss, Randi Weingarten, one of the chief proponents in the fake US union “movement,” of class collaboration and imperialist adventures. Weingarten, like Ravitch, plays the false flag game: one of the key authors and supporters of all the recent regimentation of the curriculum and high-stakes testing, she now “opposes” value added measurement.

Here is Ravitch’s take on why people must support union executive Weingarten: “I have read many comments on the (her) blog that are critical of Randi. I let readers have their say, but this I believe. It serves no purpose for those of us opposed to teacher-bashing and corporate reform to fight among ourselves. We must stand together so that we will one day prevail over those who want to destroy public education and the teaching profession. We can't win if we are divided. I will do nothing to help those who pursue a strategy of divide and conquer. They want us to fight among ourselves. I won't help them.”

Ravitch wraps three lies in one paragraph:

(1) opposing “corporate reform,” to defend “public education,” means defending a myth and backing a corporate state. The myth is public education–never public but always capitalist, always segregated, always teaching, above all, falsehoods (nationalism, racism, religious “tolerance,” etc)

(2) We must unite with union bosses, which means uniting with even bigger bosses.

(3) The teaching “profession”–an appeal to baseless elitism: teachers have never set their own hours, wages, determined the curriculum or methods of study, nor the number of people who can get the job. And it is a job, a working class job.

Good cop, bad cop–patriotic, religious, nationalist, class collaborationist rats–Ravitch/Weingarten. One way elites rule is to choose the leaders for the propertyless. Let us choose otherwise.

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