Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Ryan & Rahm: true, true love

So here’s a real fight: on one side, Chicago’s schoolteachers. On the other, Obama’s former chief of staff, now mayor, Rahm Emanuel. And shoulder to shoulder with Rahm, today’s favorite rich nutcase Ayn Randite, Paul Ryan. What bracing clarity, what a refreshing dip in an icy mountain stream!

Just listen to Ryan(R) lauding the union-crushing moves by Emanuel(D):

Mayor Emanuel is right today in saying that this teacher’s union strike is unnecessary and wrong. We stand with Mayor Rahm Emanuel [and] with the children, and we stand with the families and the parents of Chicago because education reform, that’s a bipartisan issue. This does not have to divide the two parties.
Indeed it does not! Because the two parties’ positions on turning public education into a commodity for profiteering are identical. The Chicago teachers’ rearguard action against privatization and the next round of massive looting of public property now underway is exposing this nasty little secret, just days after the love-fest between the Democrats and their glassy-eyed boosters who won’t feel themselves getting screwed until the pain hits the middle thoracic vertebra.

As David Dayen writes in Firedog Lake, the ‘Waiting for Superman frame’, meaning rah-rah for charter schools and down with lazy, selfish teachers, has become the received wisdom of both parties, the mainline media and the cultural elites. That makes sense since the cultural elites have given up on public education and don’t send their kids to public schools—starting with Mayor Rahm himself, whose kids wouldn’t be caught dead in one.

The tactics are plain enough to see: starve public schools into failure, put 40-50 students in classrooms without air conditioning, make sure they don’t have books or materials for the first few weeks, then impose a rigid testing regime and make teachers the scapegoats when the deprived students can’t read nor do their sums. Then wreck the teachers’ unions as the only obstacle to packaging up education as a for-profit commodity and sell the newly released goods, now no longer publicly owned, to their hedge fund friends.

Jonathan Kozol, who has a new book out just this month, reported the same thing 40 years ago, and nothing has changed: the pundit poobahs keep saying that ‘money doesn’t matter’, that teacher enthusiasm and spirit is the key to good schooling. But lo and behold, every time someone looks into how much money is being spent on kids, surprise, surprise, it’s the wealthy families who make sure their kids’ schools have good resources, and the poor kids who get bupkis. So money really does matter after all as, underneath all the blather, everyone knows perfectly well.

But the nation’s huge expenditures on education at all levels provide a fine opportunity for the financiers to bulldoze their way in, scoop up the cash and leave chaos in their wake—now that their handiwork with the mortgage market, for which they have suffered zero pain, has wrecked that source of loot.

It shouldn’t surprise us, then, to learn that Emanuel worked with a tea-party group to shout down school-teachers in community meetings, even going to the extreme of paying protesters to go to school closings. As the ‘greedy teachers’ are being pilloried in the media, no one notices that the head of the Chicago public system, David Vitale, is a banker. Here’s his C.V. from Forbes:

Chair of the Urban Partnership Bank (2010-present); Chairman of DNP Select Income Fund, Inc. (2009-present), DTF Tax-Free Income Inc. (2009-present) and Duff & Phelps Utility and Corporate Bond Trust (2009-present) (investment companies); . . . former Executive Vice President of First Chicago Corporation, Vice Chairman of The First National Bank of Chicago, Vice Chairman of First Chicago NBD Corporation and President of The First National Bank of Chicago.
However, it looks like Emanuel underestimated the teachers union and the support they still enjoy among parents. Meanwhile, a certain election campaign is taking place, and as Lambert Strethner writes in Naked Capitalism, ‘Obama is between a rock and a hard place. He can’t support the teachers, not only because the Rs will jump on him but because the teachers are striking against his own education policies. On the other hand he can’t condemn them for the strike and turn off many teachers around the nation who not only vote but are activists in elections'.

So Obama is reduced to saying he’s ‘for the children’, a deliciously meaningless blast of not even hot air.

Sign at a teachers rally: ‘Fighting to make CPS a district where Rahm would send his kids’.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Looks as if Rahm is showing his true colors today (not that he's ever been particularly subdued in his contempt for progressivism), as he moves to make the teachers' strike "illegal." Where, pray tell, is the daylight between Rahm and the conservative Governor Walker on this issue??