Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Trojan Horse Watch -

This is from The Black Commentator (2002). Their site has some great articles that will open your eyes about the kind of garbage the right wing is trying to feed to the African American community. This one is about the money and connections behind the voucher movement, and especially about the extreme right wing Bradley Foundation. Bradley Foundation money funds groups like the right wing think tank Heritage Foundation. This brings up an old sore spot for me. I listen to NPR a lot, mostly because I cannot stand the commercialism and blather of commercial radio. They often use people from Heritage as their "experts," but they rarely identify them as even being conservative, much less the extreme right wing, corporate driven idea factory that they are. This is something I would expect from cable news, but the truth is that all mainstream media outlets parrot the conservative line over and over again! It infuriates me.

Which brings me to a spout that I have been wanting to make for a few days. Last week at a party, that I didn't particularly want to go to, I happened to sit down next to an acquaintance that I have known for some time. Immediately he asks me about the affects that NCLB is having on our school district. Well, as you might imagine, I was off... It was a pretty good conversation and a reasonably enjoyable night. At the end of the night I ended by telling him about our web site. Later in an e_mail, after he commended me for the site he wrote that in his mind NCLB and alternatives to public education are separate issues. He said he thought we were alienating a large, thoughtful, caring, determined and potentially very helpful group of families by painting them with the same brush. According to him there are over a million kids now being homeschooled and those families are as alarmed about NCLB, if not more so, as most public school teachers. He said that the Home School Legal Defense Ass. has been fighting this sort of garbage for decades. He went on to say he disagree with NCLB for what I see are all the right reasons. But, he brings up a good point. It is not the alternatives to public education that I have a problem with. Instead it is the funding of these alternatives with public money. It is also where the impetus for the alternatives is coming from, which is the extreme right and all those who would like nothing better that to get government out of the business of education, and put a good poprtion of that money in private hands.

But it's more than that. I mourn the fact that the middle class in this country has, largely, given up on public education. We are loosing exactly those people, those parents who with their influence and hard work, could help us change the system. And we are loosing them largely, because of the constant hammering from the business organizations and the media that our school system is a failure, which it is not! And with the help of this lost middle class it could even be better! I hope to add more to this soon, but I'm beat.


Joe Thomas said...

The middle class hasn't given up. They need to be energized. We are hit with so much information each day that we get to the point where we can only respond to the immediate crises. Planning has to wait while we put out the dozens of little fires in our lives.

Keep with your message. "People" are slow, but they eventually see the light. We live in a time when you have to cut throuh so much secrecy and fog to get to the real issues. Look at the current administration. The Tax Cuts, NCLB, the PATRIOT Act, The Iraq War, Medicare reform and now proposed Social Security reform-- on each front, popular support started out high. The more we found out about each, the more we realized we were being duped.

We realized the wealthy received $30,000 tax refunds while we received $1,000 advances

We realized NCLB was aimed at punishing public schools, weakening public support for them, and ushering in vouchers

We realized the civil liberties we gave away being "patroits" and the Constitutional guarantees we jeopardized (due process, illegal search and seizure, Information Act, etc)

We realized there were no WMD's, there was going to be no "mushroom cloud", and there was no connection between Iraq and 9/11

We realized Medicare reform was going to cost twice what they said and would be bourne by the states, not the federal government

And we are realizing (hopefully in time) that the money they say we will make in private accounts will fund the $2 trillion in switchover fees to the new "improved" system that will line the pockets of investment companies.

Keep talking. People are listening. Slowly, we will win back our democracy.

NO said...

You give me hope Joe, but I hope you are right. I still believe that the middle class has given up on public education. In the big cities, if you are middle class you either go to a private scool or some or other kind of magnet school. Even Michael Moore admits that he sent his daughter to a private school in Manhattan. "Too many x-ray machines and cops." In Juneau Alaska, where I live, the parents have been complaining for years that class sizes are to large. At first private schools were tried but they turned out to not be economically viable. Then charter schools came along, and what do you know, we have a charter school run and attended by mostly white middle class families and their pupil to teacher ratios are consistently lower than public schools. Then the Montessouri program worked it's way into the public schools, as a special program run by the district inside public school buildings. And guess what? Mostly white middle class families with consistently lower ratios that public school and now they are attempting to get a charter school. As my aquaintance wrote so matter of factly, "Today, virtually everyone our age has thought seriously about alternatives to public education for their kids and there are good reasons for that." I'm not sure what the reasons are except for the constant media blitz about the poor state of American Eeducation, and the fact that class sizes are generally too large, and generally not enough money is put into public education, and there are kids with problems that take the teachers attention away from our darlings...

I do not mean to sound bitter, because I do not believe I am, but I think I am being realistic.

When you say "we realized" I immediately think, "Half of the country realizes. Half of the country on the coasts and in the upper mid west." And what about the other half? The half that watches cable news and believes it? I hope you are right Joe but I'm still worried.