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Procrustes Prep, B. Obama, Headmaster

By Michael J. Smith on Friday April 17, 2009 01:15 AM

The grinning vulpine figure shown above is Arne Duncan, Obama's education czar, promoted from the educational stockyards of Chicago to ready the whole rising generation of American youth for efficient corporate slaughter.

Here's the New York Times:

Education Standards Likely to See Toughening

WASHINGTON — President Obama and his team have alternated praise for the goals of President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind law with criticism of its weaknesses, [but it seems] the Obama administration will use a Congressional rewriting of the federal law later this year to toughen requirements... The law’s testing requirements... will certainly not disappear.

The administration['s] plans are a disappointment to some critics of the No Child Left Behind law, who hoped Mr. Obama’s campaign promises of change would mean a sharper break with the Bush-era law.

“Obama’s fundamental strategy is the same as George Bush’s... it’s the N.C.L.B. approach with lots of money attached,” Diane Ravitch said.... “Obama has given Bush a third term in education policy.”

[One] provision gives Education Secretary Arne Duncan control over $5 billion, which Mr. Duncan calls a “Race to the Top Fund”....

The stimulus requires governors to raise standards to a new benchmark: the point at which high school graduates can succeed — without remedial classes — in college, the workplace or the military.

Race to the top? And the losers go... where? College, the workplace, or the military -- those are our options. They left one out: jail.

Of course, education as a feeder industry for the incarceration sector wouldn't sound too good -- even though that is, of course, the fact. You, to college. You, to the mailroom. You, Lynndie England, to the military. And you -- what was your name again? -- to jail. And about time, too.

It gets better. Were you expecting to hear from the "progressive" Center For American Progress? I was, and I was not disappointed:

Cynthia Brown, vice president for education policy at the Center for American Progress, said “They’re putting money and ideas behind what they think are the changes needed in public education... That signals their seriousness about major reform.”
Now the only people more injured than children by No Child Left Alone -- erm, I mean, Behind -- are the teachers. They were pretty critical of No Child Left Unterrorized when it was Bush's baby. What have they to say now?
The teachers' unions, which in 2007 fought a bare-knuckle lobbying battle that scuttled Congress’s last effort to rewrite the No Child Left Behind law, are [now] voicing muted concern over a couple of provisions in the stimulus....

Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association, said he did not like... part of the president’s speech.

“When he equates teachers with test scores, that’s when we part company,” Mr. Van Roekel said. But he added: “Over all, I just really support Obama’s vision to strengthen public education.”

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said that her union also had concerns about the president’s enthusiasm for data systems, which she said could be misused, but that she would give the new administration the benefit of the doubt.

Doubt, my ass. Randi knows perfectly well that Obama is going to continue and even accelerate what Bush was doing, but she's a Democrat, so she'll go along.

Comments (28)

Those Kids Today:

Of course, education as a feeder industry for the incarceration sector wouldn't sound too good -- even though that is, of course, the fact.

There's that far lefty vaguenesss again.

If you label "education" as a "feeder industry for incarceration" then the logical next step would be to advocate abolishing it, right?

Ah but that would make one a "loonitarian" and a "liar" right?

Because the next step it to break down the word "education." What are you advocating and what are you really attacking?

Education, does it mean?

1.) Actually existing public education?

2.) Public education in some future socialist utopia?

3.) Education in the abstract?

4.) Private education?

I'm guessing you're criticizing "actually existing public education" and arguing that Obama's making it worse instead of bringing it closer to "public education in some future socialist utopia."

But one never knows.

"Education as a feeder industry for the incarceration sector" sounds like an argument for home schooling to me.


in my case
totalization of the socialization process birth thru grade 8 ...or 10 when i'm feeling soft

and out
its over your free the school draft is done with you

choose your next step yourself

get a job get trained in the national guard
join a goo goo green tree type outfit ...

the uft is a brutish bunch
of secular marmish merit thugs
that quickly degenerate into raise hacks
at the beck and call of power crazed
dues hounds

the only place we have unionsleft
is where we oughta
curb em ...the pub sec

high school and 4 years of kullage
these will make anyone a fronteer freemont
end the school draft

but home school
amateur hour foolishness
brave new world yes
but only till you're 14
come on get a job
bro and older sis have one
pop and mom have one
you get one for god sake

in most places where the struggle on this planet is real
you'd be in the militia or getting raped
by now


by grade 8

we can produce a fully fledged universal cohort wide
body with self ed-able brains
that in itself would be daunting and require vast draconian measures if the school failed
heads would roll
a stalin avatar
oughta run the teacher gulag
for failure to educate
not to be educated



want more education
uncle will loan you the money

equality of outcome ??

that's for roach motels
just min max requirements at each stage
failed ??
shoot the teacher


i'm not happy with u hoss

too slack
too snacked

playing either side
of dogma vs anti dogma
is a rubes life

stop feeling superior
to the rigid hysterics like van dingo

okay your loose
but your
shapeless too
we need to follow your process
like the trail of an ant
not a dust ball

what if at st peters bench
your insight amounts to no more
then seeing shit coming out of
some dogmatoid's personal
meat made drain pipe ??

at least
try making a product
out of it
recycled dogma droppings
by anti dogma's super hero
captain honey bucket

i oughta get my pal
j'ohnny j'onzz libertarian man hunter
to tune up your freeto bloated brain stem
with some barking orders
"30 pull ups now ranger
or i wack your pee pee "

u just need a little gym work
and you'll wear a smile
to the job site
job site ??
oh yes a job site for u tkt
with a closely supervised job waitin for u
5 per 7

unless your 80
u aren't 80 are u ??

speaking of "education as a feeder industry for the incarceration sector," and obviating the question, "what was your name again?"...

ps: t.k.t., i think the criticism may be that even under obamna's proposal, our public education system will remain a sorting machine that doesn't fully prepare students for the world, requiring some other form of training (college/military/dunkin donuts university,) and if there be a shortage of jobs, or wages and benefits are lacking for the high school educated folks, at least there's the jails to be kept full.

Michael Hureaux:

The biggest problem confronting U.S. education, both internally and externally, is the idea that there ever was an idyllic period of U.S. education. I went to public school in Alaska in the mid 1970s, and the experience was a far cry different then what my wife saw in her public schooling in Brownsville, Brooklyn in the same period. All the same, as good as the public schools that I went to were, they had the same problems with bureaucracy, teachers, alienated students, etc. The key difference was that back then, many public schools were funded to allow kids uninterested in academics to study industrial sciences, and now, phobia of the great booger "tracking" has precluded introduction of such classes in many "progressive" school environments. We now have "mainstreaming", which is a ticket for disaster with many learners.

And there's a lot else I'd want to touch on as a working teacher, but I don't want to grab a bunch of space here.


U hit the key

In academic bs

My notion of drafted schooling for too long
And on a conveyer belt at that
Tries to clip this
Continuing ed
Needs to look more like the
Strip center for profit outfits
Class by class
Open admission
No one age density
Loose baby loose

Michael Hureaux:

Maybe, op. Though given the past and current record of market innovations in schooling, though, I still believe it should be working community and public sector oversight, with teachers and other kinds of classroom/gymnasium/tech instructors calling the shots. Public education is something that works well when people who are actually interested in working with young individuals are allowed to shape- and re-shape curriculum- according to the needs of each student within the group of learners they're working with. I've specialised in small urban school programs in both private and the public sector all my teaching life of 22 years, and I've yet to see this model fail when its allowed room for flight. The problems occur when the "replicability and scale" nickel counters get into it and start dragging the "accountability and merit" arguments into the mix, and then there's no getting away from the draft/factory model. We've known this for a century now, but denial is rampant. But Johnny Dewey's nostrum holds true. The best education that the best parent wants for their child should be alloted to every child. It's amazing this is such a tough concept to grasp in a culture that claims to care so much about the individual spirit, but so it goes.



No I don't mean
Pri second let alone for profit

I mean community based. innitiated but federally financed

without the
Pretentious dignifying
Edifice- ification

The chains of credentialing etc

Course by course
Continous process
From 15 to the grave all tuition fed loan based

Job or license requirements
Will enforce utility


Perfect case
To apply co op system where teachers "own"
The. School

Michael Hureaux:

Right? Another piece of this is helping teachers/ed people to develop within that kind of infrastrucutre a sense of living carnival inside of all this, trusting art, or magic, if you will. I'm not talking hippie dippie stuff here. The spontaneous community school is a real possiblity, everything that came out of the early hip hop around the time of DJ Cool Herc and Afrikaa Bambataa being a prime example of where the rootsy libertarian community will take itself if both the corporate sector and the state would just get out of the way long enough, ha ha. What could have happened in a culture that trusts the mad fool, teh grittier sensibilities with all of that? There are real reasons why the Thatcherites hated the West Indian carnivals of London in the early 1980s, they could see the corporate spectacle getting a serious kick in the teeth. Augusto Boal of Brazil has created some interesting building blocks in this regard. And man, I could go on forever about this but I'll shut up for a long time now.



I suspect we'd
See. Eye to eye
On a. Lot of this
Mjs and I have exchanged a few
Thoughts on this over the years

I'm into socializatiom of socialization from birth
But with a very dramatic liberation some where between 12 and 16

Higher ed liquidation plays a role here
Like the 16th century sacking of the monastic system in northern europe

High school as a
Hideously gauntlet like filter for higher ed obviously
Withers away


"I'm into socializatiom of socialization from birth" (OP)

This is the kind of "cleverness" that gets up the nose of TKT and Van Lingle. Luckily MH intervend and steered the thread onto a better track and the distractionists lost interest.

I've been on high school "site councils" for several years, and was appaled at the endless reports and evaluations the principal was required to do by state agencies. Further, the text books mandated by the state couldn't have been less inspiring. I concluded that education HAS to arise from the local community, and reflect the desires and culture and commitment level of local parents. If this produces white-racist school in the south, so be it! This is what happened in my SF Bay Area county anyway -- the richer communities simply raised the money to have smaller classes, better facilities and more course choices. That would be my other requirement. The Fed needs to fucking equalize resources in every district!


socialization of socialization...clever ??

seems flat footed to me
its antithetical to home schooling eh ???
so yes libertoons might get bent out of shape
but it shares their perception
of the merit draft

what could be more straight forward
that really ?
has a certain sting to it
but all on the road to something mh takes very seriously and dare i say it passionately

i totally agree with u

mh has a great deal to write on this
it would do us all good if he posted
on ed here
from time to time

and fed funding /community control
is pretty seriously
the best option for configuring the birth thru grade 8 system in my estimation


MH -- I second Owen's motion. I've spent some time in the credentialling sector myself, on both sides of the fence, but I would be glad to get something from you that conveys the insights you've drawn from your experience. Mail to stop_me_before_i_vote_again (at) yahoo.com, minus underscores and spaces, and with the obvious substitution, if you're interested.

The education obsession is a great distractor for people of a certain class. It would be nice to demystify it a bit.


local parents i'd say community not parents
parent imput is vastly over rated in my opinion
that they chose the school seems enough and retain nthe right which they really don't have most places
to yank the kid out and send em to another school

up to maybe age 12 i guess parents can't be replaced by the kids decisions ...
at least not entirely

Those Kids Today:

ps: t.k.t., i think the criticism may be that even under obamna's proposal, our public education system will remain a sorting machine that doesn't fully prepare students for the world, requiring some other form of training

I agree.

But the problem is that this "sorting process" has a lot more to do with "class" than it does with federal policy.

You get sorted largely because of the town you're brought up in. If the schools are funded by property taxes it's even worse.

A "socialist" solution would be to fund a centralized, national school primary and secondary school system by some sort of national "Value Added Tax" or, more realistically through a more rigidly progressive "income tax".

Point point me to the lefty group that's proposed this or to any Congressman who's signed on to th idea.

Ralph Nader, for example, has a rather tepid series of proposals aimed at reforming the existing system of public education.


In fact, Nader is actually closer to a libetarian than to a socialist. He supports home schooling, for example, "magnet schools" and "schools within schools.

He also wants more ideological training inside the public school system.

"Teach democratic principles & citizenship in schools."

Read the Federalist Papers and John Locke in high school history classes. Sure, why not? But it doesn't even beging to touch the core of the educational issue, funding.

In other words, get real. Even socialists aren't proposing socialism.

Those Kids Today:

And Nader is actually pretty good compared to all of the mainstream libs.

Both the Clintons, Obama, and Biden, for example, all have some vague, tepid proposal about how religion and prayer should be allowed in public schools but not religious training.

Take Hillary.

Allow student prayer, but no religious instruction

Worst of both worlds.

Why not "require non-sectarian religious instruction"?

Read the Bible and the Koran exactly the way you'd read The Communist Manifesto, as important historical documents that should be studied inside of a social/historical/archeological/political context.

Sounds reasonable, right? See how far you'd get if you tried.

Those Kids Today:

Intersting fact by the way.

In New England in 1950, 95% of the population could read.

This is from James McPherson (his book "The Battle Cry of Freedom), a mainstream liberal historian.

New England led the world in educational facilities and literacy at mid-century. More than 95% of its adults could read and write.

According to Jonathan Kozol (more of a lefty than a mainstream lib), it's a lot worse today.


In Boston, Massachusetts, 40 percent of the adult population is illiterate. The largest organization that provides funds to the literacy programs of the city reaches 700 to 1,000 people.

So what does this tell you about state funded univeral public education?

Is Kozol "lying"? Is McPherson defining literacy at a ridiculously basic level?

And when do I get my date with Kate Winslet?

Those Kids Today:

That's New England in 1850, not 1950.


Socialism HAS to be democratic -- that's the essence of it. How to make it work, that's the debatable part. Equality of opportunity requires equality of funding. Equality of outcome -- a side issue.

Does TKT know what socialism is -- or is it just a red herring?


Hc earing aide;

Tkt is an ex trot
They only know about barracks socialism
A mass Labor party
Wage class unity
And first world revolution
All springled with fairy dust
Called bottom upism or rank and file democracy
Or worker deomcracy or...

Oddly enough

As. In the ongoing further socialization of production

Has no obvious
Political superstructure

If u mean socialization in the sense of public ownership of some large hunk of the production system
This too has no
Necessary political formation either

Rep-dem systems
Are spontaneous outcomes of the class struggle inside a capitalist system
But the state tasks are common to
all political
Formations built
On the c form of exploitation. Eh ?

The burger hegemony

Michael Hureaux:

Yes, I would like to submit something on the question of credentialing. It's definitely fresh to mind, I'm in the middle of paperwork for a two year extension and enrollment in further "professional development" classes right now. Cant' get to a crafted reflection piece along those lines until the middle of the week, but I will send you something I think you'll be able to use.

Those Kids Today:

Equality of opportunity requires equality of funding.

Isn't that why I suggested that a "socialist" system of primary and secondary education would require centralization and one source of funding? Call it "single payer education" if you like.

Equality of outcome -- a side issue.

Ever use software called "Rosetta Stone" to learn a foreign language? You progress from Level 1 to Level 2 to Level 3 at your own pace. Just use the same logic in public education. Everybody gets put into the same "track" but not everybody progresses through the track at the same pace.

Socialism HAS to be democratic -- that's the essence of it.

This is "faith based" religious thinking that completely ignores the history of both socialism and democracy.

It would force everybody to ignore discussions of "democracy" in Aristotle and Plato. And it would mean that some of the people who invented the concept of "socialism" (like Robert Owen or Fourier) wouldn't be socialists.

It basically says "socialism has to have a good outcome" and if it doesn't, it isn't socialism.

It's the intellectual equivalent of saying "you have to be a good person to be a Christian so Torquemada wasn't a Christian".

Those Kids Today:

Called bottom upism or rank and file democracy
Or worker deomcracy or...


Let's accept the idea that "democracy is a necessary but not sufficient" condition for socialism.

A group of people get together, pool their property in common, and in a 75% to 25% majority vote, decide to make it a requirement that you be a Christian to be a member.

That's democracy and socialism, is it not?

It works the same way with education.

Nader wants to concentrate on "citizenship" in education. I'm guessing this is a sort of "civic religion" that doesn't exclude any religious group because it's based on the lowest common denominator.

It's still "state worship" (if a benign form of state worship). To be honest, I wouldn't find it any worse than what we have now. Have a centrally funded system of primary and secondary education with a single educational track. I'll vote for somebody who has the guts to propose something like that.

But not even Nader's doing it.

Michael Hureaux:

A "centrally funded system of primary and secondary education with a single educational track"? What's that mean to you, TKT?

Those Kids Today:

A "centrally funded system of primary and secondary education with a single educational track"? What's that mean to you, TKT?

Already explained several times several posts up several times in several attemps to provoke a debate on "the big picture".

I assumed the following statement

Of course, education as a feeder industry for the incarceration sector wouldn't sound too good -- even though that is, of course, the fact.

implied a debate on the "big picture" and not minor niggling about credentialing.

It seems I've stumbled onto a liberal reformist debate couched in radical rhetoric, a minor tiff concerning members of the teachers union about small bureaucratic issues concerning insiders only.

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