Monday, 10 September 2012

Chicago schoolmarms kick Democratic butt

We can safely assume that a teacher’s strike against his former chief of staff taking place in his home town during the two most crucial weeks before the election is not exactly what Barack Obama wished for at his last birthday party. But Rahm Emanuel’s notorious bully-boy negotiating style has run up against a union not so easily intimidated and astute enough to see that they have powerful cards to play.

The Democrats just ended a well-orchestrated propaganda blitz known as a political convention aimed at convincing voters that there is a profound difference between the two parties, that one represents stingy, bloated moneybags and the other is the home of decent working people. How embarrassing, then, to have Mitt Romney immediately come out against the striking teachers and line up alongside a distinctly uncomfortable Mayor Emanuel.

The underlying problem for Obama and Emanuel is that on the issue of how to ‘reform’ education, they are in full agreement with the privatizers of the Romneyoid right wing and have been carrying out the Republican program for the last four years. Obama’s education secretary is none other than the former superintendent of Chicago’s school, Arne Duncan, a favorite of the teach-to-the-test brigades eager to weaken teachers’ unions and job security to pave the way for private actors, despite the glaring lack of evidence that any of these changes will improve educational outcomes. (See Diane Ravitch’s withering critiques here and here and her take-down here of the awful film ‘Waiting for Superman’.)

It is most inconvenient for the voters now being whipped into action to save the Obama presidency suddenly to discover that, on this central concern of the entire nation, the two big parties pretty much see eye to eye. This dropped fig leaf makes the strike a disaster that has to be cleaned up toot sweet, and I suspect frantic calls are now occurring between Washington and Chicago in which Rahmie is on the receiving end of the tongue-lashings. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer fellow.


Anonymous said...

Ha, very good...Long live the teachers! Where would we be without them? Who would we be without them? Mo

Anonymous said...

The interesting thing is that in states like New York, private schools attended by children of the elite are not required to administer state exams like the Regents. So all this brain-numbing "teaching-to-the-test" is really just for poor and middle class kids. Private schools, on the other hand, which serve as conduits for the rich to the top universities, are free to promote higher order thinking and creativity. The lip service given by our politicians on the crucial importance of standardized testing for public school students is a hypocritical sham. Thanks for this blog.