Notes on a Theory…

Thoughts on politics, law, & social science

Posts Tagged ‘neoliberalism

A Rant About Public Education and Redistributing Resources and Power.

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Unable to come up with any good jokes about dresses or llamas, I had some things to say about public education, ed reformers, and the push back against them. I then Storified it.  Check it out. In retrospect, I wish I had fleshed out who I mean by “those at the bottom, who are systematically demobilized.” I meant to refer to race and class primarily, but also LGBTQ, non-English primary language, etc. Resources certainly includes massive inequalities in school funding, but also who has access to what resources within schools or even particular class rooms. Comments as always are welcome.

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Written by David Kaib

February 27, 2015 at 1:33 pm

To Change the Education Narrative, Build a Movement

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Fund Our Schools

This morning there was a great segment on the Melissa Harris Perry Show where she interviewed Diane Ravitch about her new book, Reign of Error: The Hoax of Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools.  I’ve had my disagreements with Harris Perry over education in the past. But it’s obvious that she cares deeply about public education. And it’s been clear to me that, even when her guests have largely accepted the frames of choice and accountability and crisis, she has remained skeptical. Given the dominance of the position Ravitch criticizes, it was nice to have a segment where she, later joined by Pedro Noguera and Trymaine Lee, could lay out the critique of the corporate education reform movement and discuss some of the impacts on students.

That said, there was one question posed by Harris Perry that didn’t get addressed, that I wanted to offer my own answer. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by David Kaib

October 26, 2013 at 1:46 pm

Top Five Posts That You Did Read: 2012

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Here are your top five posts from the last year, based solely on page views. The biggest thing driving traffic – one or two people who have a bigger megaphone than me passing it along.  (My thanks to those people).  Was there anything else they shared in common? Let’s take a look.

Also, don’t miss Top Five Posts that No One Read: 2012.

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How the NRA Shifted the Debate: Or One Way Conservatives are Better at Politics

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I’ve harped here on the notion, both popular and academic, that ‘talk’ doesn’t matter – that decisions are the key unit of politics, they are action, driven by some set of fundamental forces, unaffected by interactions among people. This is connected to an idea I’ve called democratic efficiency: that public opinion translates automatically into public policy, like a political market (market here being the imagined one of economic theory rather than anything that exists in the real world). This position renders the vast bulk of political activity nonsensical, but it has the handy consequence of ensuring that any outcome is explainable–some set of actors or policies won out because they were favored (probably by the voters), the proof being that said actors or policies won out. It’s circular, of course, yet somehow deeply satisfying.

I was thinking about this while observing the response to the horrific shooting in Newtown.  Many liberals took the shooting as license to demand gun control, something that has been verboten for quite some time. (There has also been a good deal of discussion of mental health, which on its own is a good thing but somewhat troubling as an anti-violence strategy, but let’s leave that aside).  At the same time, numerous conservatives announced their own support for things like arming teachers.

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Written by David Kaib

December 21, 2012 at 5:33 pm

You Can’t Decry Conflict and Seek Justice

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[Updated below]

Melissa Harris Perry has a new piece reflecting on the recently concluded successful Chicago Teachers Union strike.  Her point – the battle between “reformers” and “teachers” was harming the school children caught in the middle. (This despite the rather substantial student-centered reforms* teachers were calling for – she adopts a standard conceit of corporate ed reformers that they seek reform while everyone else supports the status quo).

I couldn’t help but be reminded of Martin Luther King‘s words.

You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city’s white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative.

The reality is, whether intended or not, when liberals decry conflict, which is standard rhetorical position, they are supporting the position of the powerful.  Rahm Emanuel, backed by billionaires (including Donald Trump) is powerful, and the status quo is for him and the other corporate reformers to get their way despite the opposition of teachers, parents, and students without significant resistance.  Without resistance, they simply get their way to push their neoliberal reforms.

Those reforms are hurting children, hurting communities, undermining public sector unions, and they don’t work.  Children aren’t served by a lack of air conditioning, music and art instruction, or libraries.  Children don’t benefit from waiting for textbooks to arrive long after the semester begins.  Children don’t benefit from increasing hours spent devoted to high stakes testing and preparing for these tests.  Hopefully, we’re beginning to see real organized resistance based on the idea that teachers are valued professionals and that every child deserves the opportunity for a quality public education.

I know many on the left point to the power of conservatives to explain our difficulties.  But this, and related disputes, suggest our bigger problem is that the left is divided.

I don’t know if Karen Lewis or other key figures from the CTU will get a chance to be heard on MSNBC in the coming days.  So I’ll close with Lewis’ words.

I do not understand why people think what we did was special. I do not understand why people think I’m a leader. I am a teacher who hates what’s happening to our children. We cannot go along with harm. Plain and simple. Sometimes I feel like we’re in that bad psych experiment where people give folks electric shocks because they were told to do so. I am embarrassed by all the attention and I would like to go somewhere and be quiet. I didn’t realize my life would be this nuts.

Respectfully, I understand why people know what they did was so special.

Thanks CTU. In solidarity.

* Seriously, if you haven’t yet, you should read what the teachers are still fighting for: The Schools Chicago’s Students Deserve.

[Update] Corey Robin gives a quick break down of some of the things the union won that supposedly hurt the kids.

 

Written by David Kaib

September 20, 2012 at 11:46 pm

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