Tag Archives: Racism

Racism, Racism Everywhere

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This article ably explains why Ron Paul is a disgusting, and dangerous, public figure.

I have written about Ron Paul before (herehere, here, here and here) and received the predictable blowback from his internet minions. The cult of personality that has formed around this man is disturbing. Many young people attach themselves to his banner, despite the fact that he is essentially an evolution-denying, Christian fundamentalist from Texas.

Ron Paul, along with many prominent leaders of the Tea Party, have revived an idea that most people hoped was long dead: nullification. Nullification is the theory that states have the right to disregard federal laws they deem unconstitutional. Its earliest incarnation can perhaps be found in the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions written by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison during the presidency of John Adams. Jefferson and Madison believed that the Alien and Sedition Acts were unconstitutional and the states had the duty to nullify such laws.

However, the intellectual father of nullification was a Congressman from South Carolina named John C. Calhoun. Calhoun was considered an expert on the Constitution in his day. He had the reputation as a theorist of sorts who justified the southern way of life. Andrew Jackson tapped him to be his Vice Presidential running mate in 1828. By the end of his first term, Jackson would come to regret this decision.

Besides slavery, another wedge issue between north and south at the time was the tariff. A tariff is a tax on imported goods. Northerners tended to support high tariffs since they protected American industry, which was the backbone of the northern economy. Southerners tended to oppose high tariffs since it raised prices of all goods, especially the low-quality clothing they bought from Britain in which southerners clad their enslaved human beings. Southerners were hopeful that President Jackson would do away with the hated “Tariff of Abominations” put in place by Jackson’s predecessor and American hero, John Quincy Adams. When Jackson did not move fast enough, Calhoun claimed that South Carolina had the right to nullify the tariff. If the federal government insisted that the tariff be paid anyway, then South Carolina had the right to secede, or leave, the union.

Jackson’s response to Calhoun’s challenge is the stuff of legend in American history. At a Washington dinner party, Jackson stood up, looked Calhoun in the eye and gave a toast saying “Our federal union. It must be preserved!” He later threatened to have Calhoun hanged from the highest tree. During this so-called “Nullification Crisis”, Jackson penned an eloquent defense of the American union as a combination of people and not of states. Jackson’s firm response, combined with a compromise that lowered the hated tariffs, served to end the Nullification Crisis. Needless to say, Jackson did not choose Calhoun as his running mate in 1832, opting instead for his closest advisor, and political opportunist, Martin Van Buren.

28 years later, it would be no surprise that the first state to “nullify” the election of Abraham Lincoln was South Carolina. They ended up seceding from the union and bringing many other slave states with them. This was the crisis that led to the firing on Fort Sumter which precipitated the greatest tragedy in American history: the Civil War. President Lincoln, from his first inaugural address all the way to the end of his life, picked up on the old Jacksonian idea that the union was one of people and not states. No state had the right to nullify or secede. The issue was settled in favor of Lincoln on the battlefield. It was at that point that the idea of nullification and secession should have died.

However, throughout the Reconstruction Era, southerners waxed poetic about their “Lost Cause”. Their genteel way of life where blacks lived under the lash of the slave master was gone forever. In its place was northern capitalism with its focus on pecuniary acquisition and industry. Many southerners held on to an idealized version of the Old South that would never totally be shaken. Towards the end of the 1800s, southerners would revive the old mantra of “states’ rights” to disenfranchise black people and reduce them to a status not much better than slavery itself. The Supreme Court supported this practice with Plessy v. Ferguson. It would not be until the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s that this system of segregation and disenfranchisement was dealt its death blow, culminating in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965.

This is the story that American history textbooks tell anyway. While it is tempting to believe this system was overturned in the mid-1960s, the truth is that it has been making a comeback. It has been making a comeback because it is, as usual, clothed in the idea of “states’ rights”. One of the biggest proponents of states’ rights in recent years has been Ron Paul. He has done a great job of masking his ideology as libertarianism. However, as the article cited above states:

“Paul’s agenda has included the rejuvenation of paleoconservatism through his youth outreach and a strong emphasis on his “libertarian” credentials, despite his record as the most conservative legislator in the modern history of the U.S. Congress.25 The libertarian elements of Paul’s political agenda derive primarily from his allegiance to states’ rights, which is often mistaken as support for civil liberties.

Paul is far more transparent about his paleoconservative—rather than libertarian—agenda when he speaks to audiences made up of social conservatives, as when he assured LifeSiteNews that he opposed federal regulatory power and supported state-level banning of abortion, and that he would veto a same-sex marriage bill if he were a governor.26

He also told an enthusiastic audience at the fundamentalist Bob Jones University in 2008 that “you don’t have to wait till the courts are changed” to outlaw abortion, pointing out that his plan for removing jurisdiction from the federal courts would allow South Carolina to enact laws against abortion. And he sponsored the “We the People Act,” which proposed stripping the federal courts of jurisdiction in cases related to religion and privacy, freeing state legislatures to regulate sexual acts, birth control, and religious matters.”

Pure libertarianism is the idea that the state should play as little a role as possible in our lives. However, Ron Paul has successfully confounded the idea of libertarianism with the idea of states’ rights. They are not the same thing. States’ rights holds that the states have the ability to wield all types of power over the lives of the people who live within their borders, which is why Paul can say with a straight face that states have the right to make policies regulating women’s wombs. This is not libertarianism of the anarchy stripe. This is downright autocratic rule.

Ron Paul’s son, Rand Paul, is another darling of the Tea Party. He made headlines not too long ago for saying he would essentially eviscerate the Civil Rights Act of 1965 on the grounds that government had no right to tell private business what it can and cannot do with its property. If the owner of a business wishes to discriminate against an entire race of people, that is perfectly fine by the likes of Rand Paul.

Even more scary perhaps is the recent Supreme Court ruling eviscerating the Voting Rights Act of 1965 on the grounds that it violates the 10th Amendment, which is the amendment most cherished by advocates of states’ rights. Those of us who were taught in high school that the Civil Rights Movement achieved a huge goal with the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts have been horrified by the attacks on these laws. We hear these cries for states’ rights when states refuse to participate in the Affordable Care Act on the grounds of the old Calhounian idea of nullification. The Tea Party right has gotten a hold of the Republican Party, making it more reactionary than it has ever been before.

What makes Ron Paul disgusting, and disturbing, is how he has tricked young people into believing his brand of Republicanism or Libertarianism is some sort of independent rogue ideology that cherishes freedom. His words, his deeds and his voting record should give the lie to this idea. His brand of Republicanism is essentially the idea of the Lost Cause of the South dressed up in 21st century garb. It is the South Carolina, Calhounist, slave owner mantra of states’ rights, nullification and secession. It is not just a conservative ideology, but what the article deems a paleoconservative ideology. It is a throwback to an oppressive, white supremacist past, one that is not as dead as some of us would like to think.

What it means for those of us in the education world who are fighting against this so-called wave of reform is that we must be careful about with whom we ally. We might be tempted to make common cause with the Ron and Rand Pauls of the world because it is politically expedient. This should be avoided at all costs. They partake in a brand of dog whistle racism that should be exposed and denounced at every turn.

Yet, at the same time, the rhetoric of the reform movement is also clothed in a type of dog whistle racism. Just recently, Newark schools chancellor and education reform darling, Cami Anderson, demonstrated this when she implied that students in Newark public schools (who are mostly minority) were criminals. She denounced Newark teachers who attended the state union’s conference in Atlantic City by saying that giving the students of the city a day off from school would lead to violence in the streets. This type of language exposes the type of racism implicit in the words, deeds and policies of practically every education reformer.

When reformers say that public schools are failing, they are really saying that “those” children are failing. When they say that public school students need Common Core Standards, they really mean that “those” kids need to finally be held up to standards. This is why Arne Duncan was so quick to call out “suburban white moms“. It gave him cover from the obvious racism implicit in the reforms that he supports. When we look at the most prolific charter schools, like the Success Academies here in New York City, they pride themselves on strict discipline and decor. They pride themselves on getting “those” kids to behave.

And this is also why the attack on “those” children’s schools have been accompanied by attacks on “those” children’s teachers. Many times, “those” children’s teachers come from the same “communities” as “those” children. Even when they do not, teachers of “those” children get an up-close look at the horrid conditions in which “those” children live. They might speak out against these injustices, inciting “class warfare” and “socialism” in the process. Only by silencing them do they keep the issues of poverty and racism out of the mainstream.

Those of us who oppose this “education reform” do so because we understand the paternalism and racism it implies. Unfortunately, we cannot fight against the Race to the Top or the Common Core on the grounds that it violates “states’ rights”, since that just replaces one dog whistle term for another. It also replaces the paternalism of the corporate reformers with the paternalism of state governments, who tend to be the most odious and retrograde entities in the country.

No, opponents of education reform must base their opposition on civil disobedience. This is what the idea of “opting out” is all about. Civil disobedience recognizes that Race to the Top, along with many other reforms, are the laws of the land. It recognizes the supremacy of the federal government over the states. It opposes these reform laws not because they are federal, but because they are unjust.

The idea of opting out, of true civil disobedience, would be tainted if associated with the idea of states’ rights. Opting out is the future. States’ rights is the past. Most importantly, states’ rights brought to its ultimate conclusion would bring us back to the Jim Crow era or worse. We would then have to fight a much more serious battle against a much more dangerous brand of “education reform”.

Racism and Reform: A Professional View

Few topics of discussion generate as much acrimony as racism in education. A recent book review in Education Next illustrates this point.

Mark Bauerlein reviewed the book “Multiplication Is for White People”: Raising Expectations for Other People’s Children by Lisa Delpit. A book review usually starts by describing the central arguments of the book in as neutral a way as possible, then ends with a critique of those arguments. That way, both sides get a fair hearing and the readers can weigh the arguments for themselves. This was not the format Bauerlein followed.

From the opening paragraph, he was all over Delpit. Turgidly, Delpit’s argument is that the classroom is a middle-class white space. Black students do not succeed in this space because their behaviors either do not conform to, or are constantly being misinterpreted by, the white middle-class educators in this space. This causes black children to internalize the negative view of them held by their educators. They end up becoming either “invisible” or “hypervisible” as a result. A possible antidote to this is for the white middle-class classroom to become more sensitive to the values of black children by being more “collaborative”. Another possible antidote is for the curriculum to be more “afrocentric”.

There is nothing new under the sun, it seems, as far as Delpit’s arguments go. They are the well-worn critiques of cultural insensitivity in public education to which anyone who has been through a college teaching program has been exposed.

At the same time, Bauerlein parades out some familiar tropes himself. He explains that making schools more culturally sensitive will not improve the college or work readiness of black students. He criticizes Delpit’s approach that focuses on educational inputs and ignores “outcomes”. He suggests, although does not outright claim, that we would be better served with following a model of school accountability where we export what the best schools do to every other school. Throughout his review, Bauerlein is confident that Bill Gates, Teach for America and other familiar figures of education reform are genuinely committed to closing the achievement gap. He cannot figure out why Lisa Delpit questions their motives or believes that Gates and his rich pals are using poor black children as convenient vehicles for tax write-offs.

Joanne Jacobs steps in to buttress Bauerlein’s ravaging of Lisa Delpit by citing what she calls the “no excuses” schools that tell their students to leave street culture on the street.

While I do not agree with much of what Delpit says, I cannot sympathize much with Bauerlein or Jacobs either. Taken together, Bauerlein and Jacobs demonstrate a neat, simplistic way of thinking about schools that is downright scary. To say that street culture can be left on the street is unrealistic. Culture is a way of life, not a location. One does not merely shed it when stepping into another place, whether it is the schoolhouse or the work environment.

Indeed, the way Bauerlein and Jacobs respond to Delpit’s book only serves to lend credence to Delpit’s thesis. While white students get a nice, humanistic education, black students get “no excuses”, a philosophy that usually demands that black students act in a manner agreeable to their wealthy and overwhelmingly white school masters. There is a white paternalism, almost an inverted and domestic imperialism, underlying the philosophy behind charter schools and Teach for America. The thinking seems to be that all black students need is to be taught to walk in a straight line, to march quietly through the hallways and to sit with hands folded as their young, white, privileged (and non-union) teachers model for them how to act properly. Is this a new incarnation of the White Man’s Burden? Are these the ghosts of white paternalism that salved the conscience of many a God-fearing slave owner during the antebellum era? Was it not popular for slave owners to believe that enveloping the savage African under the wing of the benevolent, Christian southern gentleman would bring the black race along towards civilization?

The parallels are indeed scary.

On the other hand, my issue with Delpit is her tendency to descend into “culture talk”. I encountered “culture talk” in college when I was required to read The Crosscultural, Language, and Academic Development Handbook. This is the book that portrays people as functions of their cultures. Asians are passive and respectful. Whites are industrious and individualistic. Blacks are celebratory and collaborative. The book boils the characteristics of billions of individuals down to one or two behavioral stereotypes, then recommends that schools gear themselves to be “sensitive” to these stereotypes.

It is a world view where individuals do not exist. People’s character traits are determined by their race or culture. They can be segregated into neat categories and educated accordingly. Rather than train teachers to hone in on what makes each individual child tick in order to enable them to communicate with each child effectively, the CLAD Handbook seeks to train teachers to hone in on race in the belief that to know a child’s race is to know the child.

Here is where Delpit and the culture talkers have something in common with the education reformers. Both of them seek to simplify teaching. They lay down very broad prescriptions. “Do this, and achieve this outcome”. It is as easy as heating up frozen pizza. All one has to know is how high to preheat the oven.

In my experience, teaching children is a matter of human interaction. It is a matter of finding that basic place of human decency that all people have and then acting upon it. It is a matter of showing children through actions that you are “for them”, you are on their side and have their best interests at heart. It is a matter of communicating clearly in a way that melts cultural barriers, instead of going around cultural barriers because they are so impenetrable.

How does a teacher do this? Is there an “outcome-based way” that can be statistically “quantified” and “exported” around the country to ensure “success”, as the education reformers seek to do? Can a teacher merely take “no excuses” and tell them to leave their street selves “on the street”? This would be real easy for me as a teacher. I would not have to go through the messy process of knowing about my students as human beings. Instead, I can merely demand that they act the way I want them to act, since I know best as their white, educated teacher.

In her book, Lisa Delpit tells the story of a white teacher whose students labeled him “black” because he made his curriculum “afrocentric”. It was a show of respect, an acknowledgment by his students that he understood them. I told a similar story in a recent blog post where a few of my black students said that I was black. I too took it as a compliment. Yet, I was not black because I was “afrocentric”. I believe I was “black” because I tried to respect my students, no matter their race, as individuals. In short, I was black because I did not see black and did not preoccupy myself with factoring in a student’s race when communicating with them. This has everything to do with me growing up as a poor city kid where the students I teach now could have easily been my friends and neighbors when I was in school.

What this tells me is that the culture talkers and education reformers both speak from ivory towers, laying down pronouncements and solutions applicable everywhere at anytime. Teachers, on the other hand, have to learn how to communicate with their students as people. One cannot read a book or do a study on how to communicate. One must merely learn by doing. This is what makes teaching an art, a craft, a skill, a profession. There are no easy answers and no handbook solutions. We must all find our own ways through struggle and experience.

It is not what either side wants to hear. The education reformers especially would like to reduce teaching to the Taylorist motions of automatons. We, as professionals, must stake our claim to teaching as an art. Outsiders can give their critiques, but they should not be allowed to dictate policy. Once that happens, we can watch as all of the useless prescriptions of educrats fizzle away into irrelevance.

Additionally, teachers communicate with their students easier when they come from the communities in which they serve. One of the most ominous impacts of the education reform movement has been the disappearance of the black educator. Many veteran teachers, including a healthy proportion of minorities, have been hounded out of the system in order to make way for cheaper and whiter teachers. It has happened in NYC and Chicago especially. This does not strictly mean that black teachers teach black students best. But it does mean that teachers who come from the same communities as their students have an easier time of reaching them. Me being raised in a poor urban community helps me communicate with my poor urban students. Today, it is a sad fact that outsiders are preferred over community members to not only educate poor students, but to run the school systems of poor students as well. (See the abolition of democratically-elected boards of education in favor of mayoral control in major urban areas.) Again, this reflects the paternalistic mindset that underlies much of modern education reform.

Delpit is correct to point out the racism in today’s schooling. Her detractors in this piece are her best pieces of evidence.

The New Gilded Age

A recent article in Salon neatly describes how the current era of U.S. history mirrors the Robber Baron era of the late 1800s-early 1900s, also known as the Gilded Age. The familiar bugaboos for progressives are there: wealth inequality, political corruption and corporations run amok.

There is another similarity I see between the two time periods, which is the increasing tendency today to ascribe one’s station in life to inborn characteristics. During the Gilded Age, this tendency manifested itself in Social Darwinism and, more ominously, Eugenics. Today, we see it in the celebration of the 1994 book The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life, co-authored by Charles Murray. Turgidly. the point of the book is to prove how innate intelligence largely accounts for one’s socioeconomic class.

In the well-worn debate between nature and nurture, it seems nature wins out in static and conservative eras. It is a convenient way to justify gross inequality.

During the Gilded Age, Social Darwinism and even Eugenics were fundamental beliefs. Both conservatives and progressives subscribed to these ideas in some form or another. Even Woodrow Wilson, the Progressive’s progressive, believed in Eugenics. Then, by the end of World War II, Eugenics fell into disrepute because of its association with Hitler. The Great Depression damaged the entire nature side of the nature/nurture debate. It was proof positive that destiny was shaped by forces well beyond one’s natural gifts, like volatile business cycles. Post-war conservatives still clung to some form of “nature”, but it was persona non grata in liberal intellectual circles, and liberal intellectuals would be in the saddle for most of that era.

Today, it is not only conservatives like Murray who are reviving Eugenics. Liberal education reformers, like the one who wrote this essay, seem to be hung up on it as well. The article’s title asks the question, Can Schools Spur Social Mobility?

Before he answers that question, however, he delves into the world of Charles Murray. He explains that Murray answers that question in the negative. It is negative because we have already done a bang-up job of moving all of the cream of society to the top. There is simply nothing left for schools to do to increase mobility. Society is as mobile as it is going to get.

For the author, this creates a crisis of sorts. Agreeing with Murray “gives cover to educators who look at a classroom of low-income children and diminish their expectations—thinking that ‘these kids’ aren’t capable of much, educators who don’t buy the mantra that ‘all children can learn'”. It is tough to image which educators the author, Michael Petrilli, has in mind. Why would educators even choose the profession if they believe kids cannot learn? In Petrilli’s mind, it must be because of those fat paychecks and summer vacations.

Yet, in the very next breath, Petrilli pretty much concedes Murray’s point by asking “would we be shocked to find that the average intelligence level of such a classroom is lower than a classroom in an elite, affluent suburb?” But then he backtracks by stating:

“Yes, intelligence is malleable, not innate. Yes, an exceptional school/teacher/curriculum may boost that average intelligence level. But can those factors boost it enough to overcome the disparities Murray describes? If not, what can educators do?”

He then dedicates the rest of his essay to describe what educators can do. This means his recommendations aim not at boosting intelligence per se, but at boosting them within the very limited range of improvement allowed by Murray. So, he believes poor minority children can get smarter with a better education system, but not much smarter. For him, more gifted classes and online learning can help. Why he thinks these things can help he never really explains.

Petrilli ends by saying we will not move poor kids from the projects into Harvard overnight, but we can move them from the projects into police work, firefighting, nursing and plumbing.

For Petrilli, sky is not the limit. It seems to be about 90% genetic and 10% education system, especially the teacher.

What is absent from the ideas of both Murray and Petrilli is socioeconomic circumstance. Petrilli cites Murray by explaining elite universities overwhelmingly serve the children of the intellectual elite because their parents were of the intellectual elite. They both assume that the students at these schools are in fact the best and brightest the country has to offer. This means that George W. Bush, who went to Yale, got there on his merits and not because of his family legacy.

There is something to be said for the idea of moving students from the projects into professions like plumbing. Rather than call for more online classes, what Petrilli should be calling for is vocational education. Unlike endless batteries of standardized exams, vocational learning might actually bear some fruit in the future. Unfortunately, so-called progressive reformers like Petrilli, the prescription is the same no matter what you want the outcome to be: more education reform. There is no room for vocational education in that program. Online learning, testing and charters are where the money is at for deformers.

Both Murray and Petrilli are out of touch. While Petrilli starts off the essay as if he is going to disagree with Charles Murray, he essentially concedes Murray’s salient points. Yes, kids already in elite schools are smarter, as are by and large the social classes those kids represent. Petrilli disagrees with Murray only peripherally. For Murray, nothing can be done to make America more equal. For Petrilli, we must expend a lot of effort to get the few gems from the poorer classes into Harvard. The vast majority are destined for the life of working for a living.

This is the type of stale discourse we would have found in the Gilded Age. While one guy is supposedly conservative and the other guy is supposedly progressive, their ideas demonstrate a consensus in elite circles. They both believe that richer people are just plain smarter. This also helps explain the unquestioning, thoughtless and mechanical manner in which Common Core, online learning and charters have been foisted upon us. Since these are reforms conjured up by the rich and brilliant, then of course us stupid teachers and hopeless inner city students should accept it.

The creation of compulsory schooling during the Gilded Age was an invention of elites who knew what was best for poor people. The recreation of compulsory schooling in the form of education reform during this second Gilded Age is the exact same thing. The more things change, the more they remain the same.

Fun City Revisited: The Lindsay Years

Watch the documentary here.

Fun City Revisited: The Lindsay Years, a new special from WNET.ORG, looks at John Lindsay’s turbulent two terms as New York mayor from 1966 – 1973. It also looks at his unsuccessful bid for President during the 1972 Democratic presidential nomination.

The program explores Mayor Lindsay’s tenure by looking at his campaign as a candidate of change; his contentious relationship with the city’s unions; his advocacy for inner-city neighborhoods and efforts to maintain calm during racially tense times, such as the aftermath of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; the fiscal consequences of his union contracts and social policies; and his use of urban design and planning as a proactive tool to defend and redefine the value of the city.

The program includes interviews with a wide range of historians, journalists, politicians, and members of Lindsay’s administration. Among those interviewed include: Jimmy Breslin, Mayor David Dinkins, Ronnie Eldridge, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Mayor Ed Koch, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, Joyce Purnick, and Congressman Charles Rangel.

“John Lindsay was the mayor of New York City at one of the most turbulent times in U.S. history,” said Neal Shapiro, President and CEO of WNET.ORG. “From race relations to the Vietnam War to the City’s fiscal challenges, Lindsay had to deal with issues that we tend to forget about today. The Lindsay Years will examine his legacy and shine a spotlight on that moment in the City’s history. ”

Tom Casciato, is Executive Producer; Scott Davis is Senior Producer; Rob Issen is Writer/Producer and Rawan Jabaji is Field Producer.

Fun City Revisited: The Lindsay Years is airing as part of a broader partnership with the Museum of the City of New York, which has launched the exhibition, America’s Mayor: John V. Lindsay and the Reinvention of New York, and Columbia University Press, which has launched a companion book of the same name edited by Sam Roberts.

A nice window into New York City during the 1960s. There is a decent section about the 1968 teacher strike, on which I will have more to write later.

Enjoy the video when you get the time.

The State of the Union Conference

Earlier today, I attended the State of the Union Conference in downtown Manhattan, not far from where I teach. It was organized by the progressive edcuators at the Grassroots Education Movement. As the name of the conference would indicate, a large part of the day was spent assessing the United Federation of Teacher’s complicity in the destruction of public education. I was heartened by the large turnout of teachers and parents. The auditorium was brimming with people, as were all of the individual seminars. I also got to meet many of you, the gentle readers of this blog, and really was taken aback by the support and kind words you had for this little website. All around it was a great day.

The first person I met was Norm Scott. Norm has been a public school activist for a long time, sort of the dean of progressive educators, and it was an honor to meet him. (Check out Norm’s blogs at Ed Notes Online and Norm’s Notes).

After a short introduction in the auditorium, we were allowed to choose from a list of seminars. All of the seminars sounded good and it took me a while to choose to attend the one about the history of the teacher unions. It was conducted by GEM members Michael Fiorillo and Peter Lamphere. I took notes on this here laptop and picked up some very good tidbits on the role of the teacher unions throughout history. Given my history background, it has become impossible for me to wrap my mind around an issue without knowing the history behind it.

The discussion that took place on the heels of seminar was fascinating. There were so many teachers in that room, including old veterans who remember the strike of 1968 and what things were like before the strike. It was no surprise to hear the same themes from back then recapitulated today. I contributed my two cents about the age of corporate fascism in which we currently live. I could have sworn I heard some groans when I started dissing Obama and Clinton.

The second seminar was conducted by Brian Jones on the history of school segregation in NYC. Much of the ensuing discussion revolved around fighting for local control of school boards and bringing in more minority educators. Underneath the surface of this discussion was a tension, really as old as education activism itself, between those who want to focus on the race issue and those that want to focus on socioeconomic class. To me, this is a rift that threatens to divide public education activism. It will be the subject of my next blog entry.

I was not able to stick around for the third seminar. My one regret was not getting more contact information for the people I met. For those interested in staying in contact and keeping the good feeling of today’s conference going, I put my email address in the sidebar of this website. It is theassailedteacher@gmail.com.

Thank you to everyone who organized the State of the Union conference. I am sure this is the first step in a new stage of the battle to retake our public schools.