Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Obama's Attack On Teachers: We Need To Push Back

According to the NY Times, some progressives in San Francisco are sick of Obama's attacks on teachers through his Race to the Top education policies.

They are trying to push back against the Obama reform agenda.

Here in NY State, Obama got everything he wanted - increased charter schools, more schools closed and teachers fired, teacher evaluations tied to test scores and teacher tenure eliminated (and don't kid yourself, the new teacher evaluation is a roundabout elimination of tenure protections.)

Things are going to get even worse for public education if Obama gets to redo Title 1 funding and ties it to how much "reform" a district does.

You can be sure that the reforms Obama will push then are a voucher system, merit pay, and all-year round school + 10 hour school days.

We have to push back against this man.

The best criticism I have seen of the "liberal" Obama policies comes from the World Socialist Web Site.

I want to repost most of it here:

Obama continues assault on teachers
26 May 2010

Last week high school teachers in Central Falls, Rhode Island—who were fired en masse last February for defying concession demands—were forced to accept an agreement in return for their jobs that will increase the school day by 25 minutes, compel them to tutor an hour each week, gut seniority rights and submit to a new evaluation system that will facilitate their termination.

The firing of the 74 teachers and 19 other staff members—hailed by President Obama for imposing a “sense of accountability” on teachers—was a blatant act of intimidation. Its aim was to break the resistance of teachers nationally to an assault on their working conditions and living standards and pave the way for the further privatization of the public school system.

The sackings were carried out under guidelines drafted by US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who is targeting 5,000 “low-performing schools” across the country for similar treatment. In the name of “turning around” such schools, the administration has encouraged school boards to fire teachers or close schools and reopen them as privately run charter schools or under the management of for-profit contractors.

Rather than overturning Bush’s reactionary education policy—embodied in the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB)—the Democratic president has spearheaded an assault on teachers and public education that his Republican predecessor could only have dreamed of.

At the center of this is the absurd claim that teachers are individually responsible for the problems caused by the chronic under-funding of the public schools and the academic challenges of young people facing poverty outside the classroom. In the case of Central Falls, nearly a third of the largely Hispanic population lives under the official poverty line and the former mill town is so economically distressed that it was put under receivership last week.

According to the administration’s twisted logic, education will be improved, not by increasing funding to the schools or addressing mass unemployment in the inner cities, but by firing teachers and destroying their working conditions!

In his assault on public education, Obama is reviving the free-market nostrums of economist Milton Friedman, who first advocated subsidizing private and parochial schools to break up what he called the “socialist” monopoly of the public schools and teachers unions.

The promotion of school vouchers, merit pay and test-based teacher evaluations by the Republican right, however, was repeatedly rebuffed by the American people, who correctly saw this as an effort to undermine the egalitarian principles of public education and create a class-based education system.

It has now been left to a Democratic president to scapegoat teachers and accelerate the assault on public education. Like all of Obama’s policies—the bailout of the Wall Street banks, the attack on auto workers, the health care overhaul and coming attacks on entitlements—school “reform” is aimed at drastically reducing costs for the financial elite. At the same time, the school system is being tailored ever more closely to the interests of big business, including multibillionaires like Bill Gates whose private foundations have funded the expansion of charter schools.

An article in Sunday’s New York Times magazine, entitled “The Teachers’ Unions’ Last Stand,” grumbles about the cost of public school teachers versus their charter school counterparts. Describing a school building in upper Manhattan, which is shared by Public School 149 and a charter school, the Harlem Success Academy, author Stephen Brill bitterly complains, “Instead of matching pension contributions paid to charter teachers that cost the school $193 per student … the union contract provides a pension plan that is now costing the city $2,605 per year per pupil.” He continues, “The best estimate is that it costs at least $19,358 per year to educate each student on the public side of the building, or $980 more than on the charter side.”

It is well known that charters, which are run privately but funded publicly, have an incentive to drastically reduce costs in order to increase the profit for their investors. This has led to gross corruption and falsification of test scores. Meanwhile, they regularly exclude students with learning difficulties, foreign language speakers and the poorest students who require greater resources.

The Obama administration is also seeking to fundamentally change the formula for distributing so-called Title I federal funding for public school districts, from one based on the number of low-income students they teach, to one based on how many “reforms” the districts carry out.

As a first step it is inducing cash-starved school boards to gut the living standards and working conditions of teachers in order to qualify for a share of its $4.35 billion Race to the Top fund. The above-mentioned article notes the criteria districts must meet:

“The highest number of points—138 of the 500-point scale that Duncan and his staff created for the Race—would be awarded,” Brill wrote, on a commitment to eliminate “seniority-based compensation and permanent job security.” He continued, “To win the contest, the states had to present new laws, contracts and data systems making teachers individually responsible for what their students achieve, and demonstrating, for example, that budget-forced teacher layoffs will be based on the quality of the teacher, not simply based on seniority.”

Last month the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) union agreed to the elimination of “tenure-based job security” in Washington DC, clearing the way for the district to fire so-called “ineffective” teachers in the nation’s capital, which was hit with millions in budget cuts last year. This is only one of many examples nationally of the unions imposing merit pay and other punitive “accountability” measures on their members to help states qualify for federal funds.

Whereas his Republican predecessors often clashed with the teachers unions, Obama has received the full support for the AFT and the National Education Association, which have promoted him as a “partner” in the White House. Having collaborated in the destruction of tens of thousands of teachers’ jobs, the AFT and NEA have concluded that the best way to defend the privileges of the union officialdom is by collaborating with the administration to impose its reactionary “reform” agenda.

The entire corporate and political establishment—from the Democrats and Republicans, to the news media and trade unions—is united in the claim that there is “no money” for public education, even as trillions are handed over to the Wall Street banks and squandered on overseas wars.

That is because public education—like every other basic democratic right—is incompatible with an economic and political system that serves, not the interests of society as a whole, but the insatiable demands of the financial aristocracy. America’s ruling elite and their bought-and-paid-for representatives in both big business parties consider expenditures for public education to be an unnecessary and unacceptable drain on their wealth, particularly since capitalism is condemning the majority of working class youth to a future of permanent unemployment, low-paying jobs and militarism.

The struggle to defend and vastly improve public education is above all a political struggle over the allocation of society’s resources. Trillions of dollars must be poured into the hiring and training of teachers—guaranteeing them a secure and decent standard of living—and the building of new schools and equipping them with state-of-the-art learning tools. Moreover, the miserable social conditions students face outside the classroom must be addressed through a massive public works program to hire the unemployed and put an end to poverty.

Unfortunately, our unions here in NY have decided collaboration with the neo-liberal agenda to destroy public education is the best way to go.

It's time for another way.

It sounds like they have decided that very thing in San Francisco.

Some of us here in NY have decided this too.

It feels like a losing battle, what with the hedge fund industry and Wall Street and the NY Times and the Murdoch Street Journal and the NY Daily News and the NY Post and Morning Joe and the documentary filmmakers and the governor, president, and mayor all on the attack against traditional public schools and unionized teachers.

But Obama is the worst of the attackers because he has been able to affect great changes at a time of economic duress.

And he will get even more before he is done if we do not stop him.

I think a double dip recession is coming in the second part of the year.

I think unemployment will continue at the current awful rate.

I think volatility on Wall Street will continue so long as the sovereign debt crisis is not solved (and that doesn't look like it will get solved any time soon.)

Now that the tax credit program is over, the housing market will fall again.

With the federal stimulus money almost entirely spent and consumer spending slowing, the economy is going to shrink again.

No matter what the cheerleaders at the Murdoch Street Journal say.

When the Obama recession hits, Obama will be working his damnedest to blame it on education and teachers.

He will say that the education system is bad, people are not educated enough to work in a new global economy, and we have to "reform" the system in order to put people back to work.

This of course will be jive. The problem IS the new economy - run by corporations, for corporations - that is wholly enabled by government and the the corporate whores who run government, like Obama.

When the economy tanks again, it is incumbent upon us to make sure that people know that THE RECESSION IS OBAMA'S FAULT.

He has done nothing to put working and middle class people back to work. Where were the jobs programs, the rebuilding of infrastructure, that could have refurbished this country and put people to work for good wages?

There were none - instead Obama gave AIG's counterparties 100 cents to to the dollar for the shit they had insured, bailed out Wall Street and centered on the teachers unions for destruction.

To defend against the attack on teachers and public education, we must go on the attack against the attackers.

That starts with we here on the blogosphere who have seen through Obama's agenda and know that he is on the side of hedge funders against union workers.

We have to talk about this at work.

There are are STILL teachers at my school who support Obama, who have been blinded by the rhetoric or something, and STILL support him (even if they don't support his education policies.)

I try and explain just why Obama is a danger to working people above and beyond his education policies, how the Wall Street bailout, the reversal on oil drilling, his doubling down on the wars and American Empire, his coming attacks on Social Security and Medicare and his health reform giveaway to Big Pharma are all corporate-friendly policies that are enlarging the power of the corporate class (his class) and diminishing the power of working people.

Some people actually do become convinced. Sometimes I see that I have seeded some doubt in their minds and then they come to a similar conclusion after watching his policies in action (the drilling reversal really helped on this.) Some people will never be convinced - they may be too invested in whatever "story" they have created around who Obama is to see him in reality.

Regardless, the more teachers we can get to oppose him and the Democrats who support his education policies, the better. It's a drop in the bucket, I know, but when we have such an array of powerful forces against us, it is important that we get as many of our colleagues on the same page as we can.

There is strength in numbers.

They are proving that in the Bay Area even as we are proving the opposite of that here in NY.


  1. NY teachers are that stupid, we believe everything that is rammed down our throat.

    Again, people are sheep and will let the government get away with bloody murder. I'm not a TEA bagger but educated people need to organize...the few of us who are left.

  2. I'm not a Tea Bagger either. For a while there, when I would point out the problems with Obama, I would get called a Tea Bagger by some on the left. That happens less and less now. It is easy to see Obama is corporate whore, given the corporate friendly policies

  3. Unfortunately, teachers must not only oppose our Trojan Horse president - hired by Wall Street to privatize the schools and Social Security, and to neutralize progressive and African-American political action - but our own unions.

    From an objective standpoint, the teacher's unions are in a powerful position to counter Obama's efforts: we have an unpopular president who is facing the possibility of large mid-term electoral losses. A real union would inform him that unless he stopped attacking us and the public schools, we would do everything to tell our members to stay home in November. But nooo...

    Right now, he needs us a lot more than we need him. And yet, Randi "Typhoid Mary" Weingarten travels the country, selling out her members in city after city, collaborating with the privateers, and doing her best to undermine local opposition to her misrule.

  4. Yes, Michael, you are right. This has to be done without the help of the union. They have been co-opted by the corporate classes and cannot be trusted for anything.

    I suspect the unions will endorse Dems in November and Obama in 2012 and say "Well, he's better than a Repub." But of course we KNOW that is not true. Frankly, he is WORSE than Bush.

    It will be incumbent upon us to call the WH, to contact our politicians and let them know, we will NOT vote for anybody who is anti-teacher.

    In a year when there will be a lot of anger and anti-incumbent feeling, I think this will resonate with lawmakers.

    As you note, Michael, the unions SHOULD be doing this. But they would rather raise the charter cap and tie teacher evals to test scores.

  5. Just look at the wikipedia artice on a comany like Kaplan. They earned 4 billion in 2009 providing all types of education services. They OWN The Washington Post. What will they make if and when the entire public school system nationally is charterized? They will exponentially increase their sales tally. This is the very definition of the corporatocracy/plutocracy. A multi-billion dollar business concern owning a major media outlet that can brainwash the public into supportiing government measures that are rife with conflicts of interest and private profiteering.


    Obama is a puppet of the world's central banking system namely The Federal Reserve,and Wall Street, which basically runs this country.

    ( Around the 6 minute mark for the failure of big media and conflict of interests. Obama is merely a puppet on a string for all of these interests. Check entire series on this topic on youtube)

    Obama's Original vault copy of Certificate of Live Birth in the USA: Not Released (1 version hidden in Hawaii, Original found in Kenya)

    Certificate of Live Birth -- Released – Proven Counterfeit (

    Obama/Dunham marriage license -- Not released

    Soetoro/Dunham marriage license -- Not released

    Soetoro adoption records -- Not released

    Fransiskus Assisi School School application -- Released

    Punahou School records -- Not released

    Selective Service Registration -- Released – Proven Counterfeit

    Occidental College records -- Not released

    Passport (Pakistan) -- Not released

    Columbia College records -- Not released

    Columbia thesis -- Not released

    Harvard College records -- Not released

    Harvard Law Review articles -- None (maybe 1, Not Signed)

    Baptism certificate -- None

    Medical records -- Not released

    Illinois State Senate records -- None (Locked up to prohibit public view)

    Illinois State Senate schedule -- Lost (All other Illinois state senators' records are intact)

    Law practice client list -- Not released

    University of Chicago scholarly articles -- None

  6. (cont) For more on Obama as Wall Street Puppet:

    Sorry, didn't mean to post the rather long list of "voids" of background information on our Puppet in the White House. That was an error. HOWEVER, isn't it strange that we know ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about this man, the man who has his finger on the nuclear button;the man who is taking over entire industries in this country; the man who is waging world wars, well, ALL OVER THE WORLD?

    I'm not a "birther", but I'd surely like to know what this man's grades were at Harvard, or Columbia, or anywhere else. After all, weren't we bombarded daily with Bush's college grades when he was in office? Just another example of the Big Media brainwashing that goes on. For some strange reason, Big Media doesn't want us to read a word The Puppet wrote in college, or a grade The Puppet earned in any academic grade going back to grade school. Why?

  7. RBE- The work you and others are doing on the blogs and in your school is very important. We are engaged in door to door fighting with the AFT locals playing middle men at best and collaborators at worst.

    The next step is to take that school based education and try to move it to organizing people into some action, no matter how trivial and useless it may seem. We have to break the isolation and the stranglehold the UFT holds over the information teachers are getting.

    That we had 20 schools do something on June 4 without the UFT involvement - they really didn't know how to deal with it and sent out the District reps in some cases to join in at some schools - is an interesting development. So we were 75 people at Tweed in the afternoon in an ad hoc demo and may go back next week. Seems like nothing. But schools are taking to each other - peer to peer - the UFT hates that. I got one email from someone at a school in Brooklyn who found out from my blog that a middle school nearby was also protesting - she wants to link up. Very early stages of a fight back here but something.

    GEM has been trying to get people together. Again, only a year old and still tiny, but it has attracted some young activists and organizers - the very people the ed deformers are courting. We even have a TFA alum very active with us.

    Chicago is a model and the election next Friday will tell us a lot of whether a national movement to battle typhoid Randi will take hold. I'm heading for Seattle on July 7 to check out the AFT convention (and see our eonderful 800 Unity slugs enjoying themselves at our expense) and see if there is something really brewing.

  8. Thanks for having the courage to express your views and speak out for teachers.

  9. I can't see how Obama can possibly get re-elected unless he's up against Sarah Palin -- and even then it would be tight. As far as I can tell, he has completely frittered away the enthusiasm that brought him into office. Chances that the economy is going to pick up are about nil, since most productive sectors are dominated by innovation-killing monopolies and finance sits like a giant leech on top of everything. And of course we've had 30 years of rightwing education policies that have left the huge fractions of the workforce unelightened and deskilled.