Five liberal pundits repeat RW anti-teacher talking points

What’s happening to education in this country is one of the biggest under-the-radar stories of the new century. It gets some attention, then it doesn’t, and still the movement to totally transform public schools marches on.

I’d like to make several points here. The first is this — that many so-called “liberals” are on board with the corrupt “education reform” movement. You’d think they know’d better, but they seem to not.

(Wonder why? Me too. See the Takeaways below for some thoughts on that.)

Here’s from Alternet, a great find by Sarah Jaffe (my emphasis and reparagraphing):

5 Liberal Pundits Repeating Right-Wing Teacher-Bashing Talking Points
Chicago’s teacher strike is shaping up to be one of the most important labor actions in a generation. So why are people who consider themselves progressives siding with the bosses?

Chicago’s teacher strike may turn out to be the most important one in a generation, as teachers stand up to a corporate-backed education reform regime that stresses testing and firing teachers as a form of “accountability” while continuing to refuse to invest real money in making educational opportunities equal for all students.

The so-called education reform movement wants high-stakes tests that students take yearly to be used to evaluate teachers and weed out the “bad” ones, and pushes money into charter schools that are privately owned and don’t have union teachers.

Under the guise of “accountability” for teachers and schools, reformers put taxpayer dollars into the hands of private investors despite the charter schools’ negligible results when it comes to actually improving education.

The movement has been particularly pernicious because it’s crept inside the heart of the Democratic party and taken hold of politicians and commentators who profess to be on the side of working people, but end up bashing teachers’ unions.

These are the “liberals” who’ve been fighting the teacher’s strike. The article itself details their sins far more fully that what’s below.

1. Nicholas Kristof. The New York Times‘ columnist is celebrated for his trips into Global South countries to report heartwrenching stories of women; he’s lauded as an activist and a human rights advocate. But when it comes to women and workers fighting for their rights closer to home, he seems to have a big blind spot. …

Kristof [argues] for “bottom-third” teachers not to have job protections, then [suggests] that we should listen to teachers for ideas on how to weed out that bottom third. …

2. Joe Nocera. Nocera, also at the Times, tries to soften his critique of the teachers’ strike by throwing them a bone midway through his column. … But where you got your next sentence is completely unclear. “On the other hand, the status quo, which is what the Chicago teachers want, is clearly unacceptable.” …

3. Dylan Matthews. Over at Wonkblog, founded and headed by liberal darling Ezra Klein, Dylan Matthews went two for two, first arguing that teachers’ strikes hurt student achievement (measured, of course, by those magical test scores) and then churning out a charming little piece arguing over teachers’ wages. …

4. Matt Yglesias. Yglesias’ contribution, at Slate, to the teachers’ union-busting is one of the most unintentionally ironic things I’ve ever seen. Just a year and a couple of months out from the biggest labor uprising in decades over the rights of public employees, Yglesias is actually arguing that teachers’ unions suck because they are public employees. …

5. Jacob Weisberg. It might be easier to understand Yglesias’ position on striking teachers when you look at his boss’s tweets on the subject. Weisberg, editor-in-chief at Slate, is the most gleeful yet:

Rooting for Rahm to make the Chicago Teachers’ Union sorry for this inexcusable strike. Students in class fewest hours of any big city.

It’s disconcerting to see such clear desire for punishment of working people (by a multimillionaire politician whose best friends are on Wall Street no less). …

Meet the perps, supposedly on our side.

Takeaways:

First, it’s about the Benjamins (the money); in particular, the Benjamins collected as tax support for public education. School “reformers” want that money spent only on their kids. “Accountability” is just the cover story.

Second, left-support of breaking the CTU strike plays to what Chris Hayes calls “the meritocracy” and its interests. I call this the “liberal” version of the ultimately-race-based class war.

Said differently, high-dollar Republican voters don’t want their kids in public schools with non-biblicals — so they home-school and create “Christian” academies.

High-dollar Democratic voters don’t want their kids sullied and held back by inner-city types (of all types), so they create charter schools and places like the Chicago Lab School, where Rahm Emanuel sends his own kids.

Both groups want public school money diverted to their separatist school systems. Thus, both want “reform.”

Third, ask yourself, where does that leave the public schools? More particularly, what then is their mission?

In a phrase, public schools become wage slave prep for those soon-to-be-nonexistent factory jobs.

Here’s lawyer and Chicago school parent Matt Farmer making the case against this dual educational track. In Chicago, the perps are Penny Pritzker and Rahm Emanuel, both with ties to … Barack Obama (h/t Sam Seder’s Majority Report for the clip):

Your (unstolen) tax dollars at work. This is what Our Betters in Blue have in mind for you and your kids. (Our Betters in Red add those ugly identity issues to the mix, like vagina-control and religious orthodoxy.)

For a nice factual analysis, read this by our own Matt Browner Hamlin. Nails it. Keep his points in mind when listening to the so-called liberals who what to bust this strike.

Finally, do you wonder why Chicago’s other unions haven’t shut down the town in support? Could it be the twin devils of the modern union movement: (1) the testosterone divide and (2) co-option by Democratic leadership?

Worth considering. Either way, I agree with Ms. Jaffe’s initial assessment. This is “one of the most important labor actions in a generation.”

Which way will it go? Will you help if you can?

GP

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Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States. Click here for more. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius and Facebook.

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