Friday, January 16, 2009

Farewell to the Education President by Paul Moore

Our sad departing president, among the most incurious and anti-
intellectual national leaders in US history, last night said farewell
and hammered home yet again his central message to the American
people. "Be afaid! Yes, be very afraid!" How far this country has
come from, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself," but
Bush's anti-FDR message served him well for eight excruciatingly long
years and brought us full circle. We're going to have Hoovervilles
again and the Great Depression II.

In his final days in office Bush hung on desperately to one delusion
of grandeur. And what a grand delusion it was! Heaven help us, in his
mind, and maybe in his mother's "beautiful mind", he was the
education president.

No question, the Bush Administration has directed the public schools
along a new path. They're going to this place right behind all those
Americans enjoying their new homes in Bush's "ownership society" and
right behind the flagships of the global economy like Lehman
Brothers, AIG, and General Motors.

The NCLB-era of educational policy in the US is the evil spawn of the
globalization of our economy. That process is at the very foundation
of the business model for schools, charters, vouchers, data driven
instruction, merit pay, standardized testing, and most perversely of
all, paying students to consume the corporate version of knowledge.
It was the reason the Business Roundtable, Bill Gates, and the Walton
and Bush families were the driving forces behind these absurd and
perverse educational policies. The CEO's wanted a profit making
private school system in their race with China and India to lowest
possible wage for workers. In their new economy there would be Wal-
Mart and plenty of security guard jobs or the military for the kids
that used to go to public schools.

These Milton Friedman-inspired Reagan revolutionaries will mark the
Bush years as the zenith of their power. This era spit up characters
like Rod Paige, Margaret Spellings, Armstrong Williams, Michael
Bloomberg, Jack Welch, Jeb Bush, Ruby K. Payne, and more ominously
for the future, Arne Duncan. It was certainly the time the attack on
public education appeared ready to bear fruit. They had public school
system wreckers like Michelle Rhee and Joel Klein in place, kids were
dropping out in droves, and teachers were in full flight.

But just as they were breaking out that "Mission Accomplished" banner
from the White House basement, just then their rationale for being,
their precious global economy, crashed! In recent days they have had
to do $326 billion CPR on Citigroup (still the bank will be broken up
and the pieces sold off in three months), scrambled to rescue the Big
Three, and printed billions in new money. Madoff has made off with
about $50 billion and he's just one of many ponzi schemers. Their
pride and joy is on fire. It was supposed to be immutable. It was
eternal! Now that attitude's all gone. There's only panic on Wall
Street and investor flights to safety. Treasuries and negative
returns are hot now. The financiers who are not killing themselves
have both fingers crossed for President Obama.

Any talk of NCLB are prayers said over a corpse. Soon it will be
every private school and charter school investor for himself. Private
school students are being moved to the public schools by their debt
ridden parents in significant numbers already. And from his Dallas
retirement home (or his land in Paraguay if he should have to leave
the country suddenly) George Bush will watch the last vestige of his
legacy, including Arne Duncan if he holds to the old world, go up in

Paul A. Moore
Miami Carol City High
United Teachers of Dade

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