DC Rally Organizers: "Arne Duncan Must Go!"
If Arne Duncan were a Republican, every progressive force in America would be demanding his resignation or firing.... For any real pro-student educational reforms to occur, Duncan must go now.
by Glen Ford
The Obama administration is steamrolling the privatization of the U.S. public schools, imposing a corporate model in which there is no place for teachers unions or for "anything resembling community control." Education chief and Obama buddy Arne Duncan's public school demolition derby would be denounced by "every progressive force in America" Ă˘€“ if he were a Republican.
If Arne Duncan were a Republican, every progressive force in America would be demanding his resignation or firing.Ă˘€ť
The Obama administration last week named the first two winners in the $4 billion-plus Race to the Top. The bizarre contest pits the states against each other to determine which states are willing to be most ruthless in stripping away teachers' union rights and shutting down public schools to make way for charter schools. Delaware and Tennessee won a total of $600 million. Round two of the diabolical competition begins in June. With their mad Race to the Top, President Obama and his education hatchet man, Arne Duncan, have imposed corporate morality and operational methods on American public education. Nowhere in this model is there a place for unions, and nowhere is there a place for anything resembling community control. Public education is reduced to a "marketplace" for exploitation by cutthroat capitalists. The awesomely destructive process is called education "reform," but looks and smells very much like disaster capitalism.
In New Orleans, school privateers welcomed Hurricane Katrina as a kind of "divine wind" that virtually swept away public education, replacing it with a system that is almost entirely charter schools. In New York City, where a judge halted the closing of 19 mostly Black and Latino schools, mass conversion to charter schools is leading to increased racial and economic segregation -- an outcome confirmed on a national scale in a study by the UCLA Civil Rights Project. In Detroit, education "reform" means shutting down 44 public schools and replacing them with 70 new charter schools. Public school activists warn that private foundations plan to convert 75 percent of DetroitĂ˘€™s schools to charters within the next five years -- moving the city closer to the New Orleans model without the need of intervention from a hurricane.
"Mass conversion to charter schools is leading to increased racial and economic segregation."
It is, therefore, appropriate that the latest challenge to the Obama administration's assault on the public schools is centered in Detroit, headquarters of the organization called BAMN -- By Any Means Necessary. BAMN heads up a national coalition that will converge on the U.S. Education Department, in Washington, on April 10 under the banner, "Our children are not for sale." Education Secretary Arne Duncan, say the organizers, plans to create a national network of 5,000 "publicly-financed, privately-run, minimally-regulated charter schools." The $4 billion dollar Race to the Top competition is just the bait for the planned big switch. The "race" is the cruelest kind of contest, creating a "mad scramble to abandon all tried-and-true reforms to get desperately needed federal funding and the insane competition of school-against-school, state-against-state."
According to BAMN activists, "If Arne Duncan were a Republican, every progressive force in America would be demanding his resignation or firing.... For any real pro-student educational reforms to occur, Duncan must go now."
But, of course, Duncan is not a loose cannon. He's Barack Obama's basketball buddy from Chicago, where Duncan closed Black and brown schools and fired Black teachers with abandon. When demonstrators gather at the Department of Education on Saturday, April 10, they will be denouncing Arne Duncan, but the policies are Barack Obama's.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
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