2009-04-17 / School News

School Scope

How I Learned To Live In A Banana Republic
Commentary By Norman Scott

Don't count this as rational. I'm a Terminator . . . and am in the midst of John Grisham's latest, The Associate. So don't mind my paranoia. If Arnold were to show up as a robot from the future, I wouldn't be shocked. And if we faced the devastation in some apocalyptic films, I would nod and say, "See, told you so!"

Imagine the worst, as I often do. What Joel Klein or Eva Moskowitz or Randi Weingarten does may soon be irrelevant.

I saw on 60 Minutes how people were lining up to buy guns so they can defend their food in case society falls totally apart. I ran and buried my favorite nuts under the floorboard and started thinking about Cormack McCarthy's The Road. Imagine hordes of people going postal. Or will we start seeing educators taking hostages and have that term morph into "going pedagogic"? Do we worry about charter schools when we are all living in the woods?

Think Germany c. 1930. Things get really bad. Like 25 percent or more unemployment. Deflation. Or printing money leads to hyperinflation. I can't tell which, but either scenario looks like disaster. I mean, what if we're in a decade-long hole that could make the lost decade in Japan look like a sunny spring day? Jeez, am I channeling Glenn Beck, who I consider a rightwing nut?

A black president who the left looks at as a front man for a coup by wealthy bankers and the right views as a socialist supported by a rabid youth movement that some loonies are comparing to Hitler Youth. That makes him a centrist where the word CHANGE has been changed to small change.

Some think the crisis is manufactured to create a sense that these bailouts, which will shift even more wealth in the hands of the few, are necessary, while that was the plan all along. As things deteriorate, some of the people on the left, who might have been rioting in the streets, are mollified by their guy in office - liberals who will try to keep hope alive. But what if Obama was part of the plan all along to enable this coup? I see rioting from the right as more likely than from the left, which always seems so weak in this country compared to places like Europe. Just a few years before Hitler took power, the left in Germany was stronger than the Nazis, who were looked on as a fringe. Hitler exploited that fear of the left and the German oligarchy came to see him as the less fearsome threat.

You already hear the right calling for people to take up arms, directed at the black president. Look at the names of so many of the "villains" of the finan- cial crisis: Rubin, Bernancke, Madoff. It would not be hard to target a certain group to blame for the crisis - Blacks and Jews. Could be a hit with the right wing. Remember Father Coughlin's populist rants in the 1930s which turned antisemitic and ended up with supporting Hitler? (No I really don't remember but I was a history major.)

From an article in The Atlantic, "The crash has laid bare many unpleasant truths about the United States. One of the most alarming, says [Simon Johnson] a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, is that the finance industry has effectively captured our government—a state of affairs that more typically describes emerging markets, and is at the center of many emerging-market crises. If the IMF's staff could speak freely about the U.S., it would tell us what it tells all countries in this situation: recovery will fail unless we break the financial oligarchy that is blocking essential reform. And if we are to prevent a true depression, we're running out of time." The entire article is worth reading and is at: http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/ 200905/imf-advice.

The difference from other recent situations is that it is occurring worldwide so there is no one left to bail anyone out. The essence of Johnson's thesis is that bankers have done very well in this crisis. In his experience with emerging market economy crashes in the past, the small oligarchy, which had a symbiotic relationship with the government, always managed to glom the lion share for themselves, which hindered the recovery. These markets did not recover until these forces were broken up.

Now that the US is moving into banana republic territory (not the store), our own oligarchy must be damaged before recovery can begin. Batten down the hatches. In the US this relationship is more than symbiotic. They actually are the government (see one Goldman Sachs).

Trusting the grass roots:

The state of the NYC schools under mayoral control has led to a reaction on the part of teachers and parents. While older, experienced teachers have been critics of BloomKlein from the early days of their control, we now are seeing younger teachers with a few years of experience under their belts becoming more active. A group from the Independent Community of Educators (ICE) started meeting in January by addressing the ATR (currently 1700 teachers without assignments due to being excessed or from having their schools closed) issue.

Simultaneously, a group called Justice Not Just Tests, a division of the NY Collective of Radical Educators (NYCORE) has been organizing a petition campaign to fight high stakes testing, merit pay based on these tests and teacher data reports where teachers are judged as a result of a high stakes test. Making the connection between the tests and the closing schools and ATR issue, we called a conference on March 28 to explore options, since the UFT has played such a minimal role. More than 80 people came out on a rainy Saturday morning.

Teachers in public schools being threatened by the charter school infiltration of public school space also held a meeting on a Sunday afternoon attended by 20 people. Since then this group merged with the other groups and formed a coalition called the Grassroots Education Movement


A conference on charter schools is planned for Monday, May 4 at PACE University from 5-7 p.m. And GEM is planning a rally and march on May 14 to begin the fight to save public education in NYC. The plan is to meet at Battery Park and march up Broadway to UFT headquarters, where UFT leaders will be invited to join the march to the Tweed courthouse on Chambers Street. The organizers do not view this as a one shot deal, but one in a series of larger events to mobilize public action.

Sharpton-Klein NAN / EEP Forum: Al Sharpton and Joel Klein brought their Educational Equality Project - EEP- roadshow to the Sheraton Hotel in NYC two weeks ago. I reported on planned actions by No To Mayoral Control Coalition (NTMCC) - which BNYEE (Black New Yorkers For Education Excellence) and the New York Coalition For Neighborhood School Control …my last

Councilman Barron, not representing the coalition opposing mayoral control, condemned their privatization of public schools agenda and the profiteering and the educational devastation promulgated by the BloomKein Dictatorial Control of public education in NYC, exposing the hypocrisy of mayoral control and the phony mantra that their critics are all about adults and they are all about children. He was taped by Angel Gonzalez, my colleague in the Independent Community of Educators (ICE) and the newly formed Grassroots Education Movement (GEM). See it at: http:// www. youtube.com/watch?v=ntbFiT XD4Og.

Norm blogs at http://ednotesonline .blog spot.com/His email is: normsco@ gmail .com.

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