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The schools devour their own

By Michael J. Smith on Friday November 19, 2010 06:10 PM

So the unspeakable Arne Duncan made a speech at the Amurrican Ennerprise Instatoot (where else?). Naturally the text is full of blood-freezing enormities, both as regards style and substance. The Baba Yaga Day Care Center, Arne Duncan, Headmistress. Sloganic Spoken Here.

But guess what atrocity -- buried two-thirds of the way down in a 2,500-word text -- attracted the attention of my mailing-list correspondents?

Districts currently pay about $8 billion each year to teachers because they have masters' degrees, even though there is little evidence teachers with masters degrees improve student achievement more than other teachers--with the possible exception of teachers who earn masters in math and science.
The horror!

Of course there is some unintended humor in this auto-amputation. The credential is sold by the claim that it will raise your income. But then the business that sells the credential repudiates, in practice, its own advertising jingle: we won't pay more for Sheepskin Part Deux. Fordism in reverse gear.

I'm starting to like Arne Dagon, who may yet pull down his own temple around his own ears -- no Samson required.

Comments (21)


i'd love a sample of the out cry
powder pinks

can you cut us a few slices father S ???


"I'm starting to like Arne Dagon, who may yet pull down his own temple around his own ears"

Come the fuck on. No he won't. He will succeed in making public education nastier and cheaper, taught by lower paid, stupider people. And *nothing*, repeat, *nothing* will happen except that those public school parents who can afford it will take their kids out, send them to private schools, and have yet another large item added to their personal cost of labor reproduction, and will work harder for longer to pay for it.

Also, lots of no-work-jobs will be created at the new charter schools for the lesser friends of the Arnes of this world, while juicy profit opportunities will be exploited by the likes of stat-faking experts like Joey Klein, now at Fox.

Which, again, is his whole fucking point. And he will do it, get away with it, and make tens, maybe hundreds of millions out of it.

I mean, really, does any of you actually have or have had children in public schools?

"I mean, really, does any of you actually have or have had children in public schools?"

Timidly raises hand fearful of the invective that may be tossed in his direction.


Let the record show that I don't *really* like Arne, though I do like irony (the two nouns are pronounced more or less the same, in my dialect).


i thru my then dp/so had but one off spring

a gal child
who despite my own years boarded and schooled
at private expense
was public straight thru
that is after day care and pre skool
after which she went part of a year to columbia one of my alma matrix
left to become a boho rad in the bowels of manhattan

all to my unrelieved delight
in particular
middle and high school triumphs
right on thru to no holding back
ivy college sublation

i'll admit brookiline/cambridge ps
ain't no ordinary ps
but the record is now in your hands
such as it is dear heart


once more i ask:

father S...if it pleases your reverence ...
may we have
some cuttings from
your ex-clusive " left list"
on arne and his 8 billion dollar
teacher MA puff pay line


I wrote some reply last night to clarify that I do have kids in public schools, are and have been amazed at the quality of their teachers, who would be making much more money wfor less aggravation working elsewhere. The post disappeared. Was it a blog gremlin or is this a moderated blog?



pwog ritual reverence
for our motley national public k-12
teaching corps
strikes me as ill founded in the extreme
a perfect matching idiocy
to soluting the armada
with semper fi teary eyed macho blithering

but more importantly the whole defensive reflexive gaddle back
is systemically misguided

the problem is not in the crew its in the mission:

schooling for job docility

teachers come in enough flavors and random sampling
to both delight and horrofy most parents b4
a kid of their own
makes it all the way thru the gauntlet
to personal liberation day

my main beef

it starts to late and ends too late

zero to 14 looks like the right length and location of our optimized
mass universal draft based
but mostly free of charge
this our life prep
schooling plan



"pwog ritual reverence
for our motley national public k-12
teaching corps"

I have no clue what this is about. I am describing my experience as a father of two boys with two very different abilities in two very different public schools. My experience and that of every parent I know in those schools is that, given the shite this people get paid and the total absence of social prestige accorded them in this nation of ignoramuses, their level of intelligence, dedication and willingness to put up with shite is nothing short of amazing. Perhaps your experience is different, though it doesn't seem that way.

Of course, give criminals like Arne and Cathy some time, and they will worsen things enough that even the most dedicated teacher will figure out that she (more rarely, he) can make twice the money for half the work and one-twentieth the aggravation as a exec assistant at Goldman.

Personally, I prefer destructive negative criticism to saluting, that's just a genetic flaw of mine, but when it comes to public school teachers, I simply cannot in good faith indulge that habit.

"schooling for job docility"

I have seen nothing remotely like that. If I had to voice any concern at all, it would be somewhat excessive catering to the kids whims, at the expense of the effort to impart actual knowledge of the world. But I emphasize that so far this is a very minor quibble.

In the interest of disclosure, I have to say that my kids have yet to start taking the battery of faked-up, retarded tests that Klein has in line for them.

I really, really *luv* this blog. I just don't get this relentless hostility towards teachers, like you were used-car dealers in Ohio complaining about the latest levy. Maybe I have been exceptionally lucky in my experience with teachers.



note this:

the whole defensive reflexive
gabble (sic) back
is systemically misguided

the problem is not in the crew
its in the mission

i hold no brief for or against
the general collection of pub school teachers
at least none you might find offensive given your own parental experience


as to this
on my bald and blunt
"schooling for job docility"
it is indeed uselessly cynical
but the truth comes off hardly better

take your point

".. If I had to voice any concern at all, it would be somewhat excessive catering to the kids whims...."

i saw that too
in k thru 3 maybe into part of grade 4

one must look at the gauntlet all the way to its end


".. at the expense of the effort to impart actual knowledge of the world"
now this i find frightening
better the bastards act like there's no
greater world out there at all
like a tv sitcom set

and stick to the three R'S
of course i believe free compulsory ed oughta end with grade 6 or 8


johnny dewey
school civicization of the pupils
is totalization
out of the hind end
of nurse ratchet
soft gulag-ing

look where these raw souls are mostly headed

there needs are not catered to
there little copperfields
stay at the blacking factory

okay a blacking factory
of their partial choice ...
if the job market is at full enough flow

and yes
blacking factories ain't what they were
in 1858 england

but they are in essence traveling ever so slowly back that way
and have been for 40 years

is schooling good prep for this ???

in as much as k thru 12 is empty exercising
time serving and without practical application

docility seems the prime product
for those that trundle thru to the final diploma


Maz -- I can't explain why your comment didn't show up. No sign of it in the logs. But there's no moderation here, in any sense of the word.

I second Owen's point -- it's not a matter of disliking teachers. I have even been one myself, from time to time. The animus is institutional, not personal.


My comment disappeared again, held for approval by the moderator. Second attempt.

I was responding to that I perceived (perhaps wrongly) as Schadenfreude at Obama's stormtroopers new offensive to take a whack at teacher compensation and working conditions.

One cannot seperate the intitution from the individuals that make it up and the way their incentives are structured. If public education offers working conditions and compensation that are sufficient to attract at least moderately intelligent, cultured, energetic young people, including reasonably secure tenure, you will get a certain outcome.

On the other hand, if those conditions worsen to the point where they are considered just marginally superior to managing the nightshift at McDonalds, then you will get a very different outcome. Clearly, this is the outcome desired by Arne, Joel, Cathy and Obama for children not of their class.

The only decent response to atrocities like Arne's speech is outrage, volunteering to man the trenches to try and slow down the juggernaut, and a fervent desire that the above named filth will die a slow, painful, expensive death that will disgorge as much of their ill-gotten gains as possible.

Snickering about a few poor deluded souls who now will have an even harder time paying the debts incurred in getting their Masters of Education is a bit declasse, seems to me.


Word of advice: if you "preview" your comment, then you have to re-enter Baba Yaga's first name. I know, I know. Sucks. Alas, I didn't write the code, and there's no way on God's green earth that I'm gonna try to edit somebody else's perl code. I'd rather have a colonoscopy without anaesthesia.

One cannot separate the institution from the individuals that make it up
No? I disagree. I think one can, and must.

This is a completely limp-leg argument. Come on, dude. Where did you go to college? Are your really saying you regret what you received in that area? Seriously?

Meanwhile, whatever else one has to say about left politics, and notwithstanding the debatability of the point on offer here, can anybody here here think of a more suicidal topic for leftists to adopt, other than OPPOSING PUBLIC EDUCATION?

Jesus H. Fucking Christ!

Lajany Otum:

Now Doug Henwood compares global warming denialists with medical quacks and HIV denialists, specifically Gary Null, WBAI's very own Dr Beetroot:

WBAI helped make Gary Null both famous and rich. He is much admired by many, though he strikes me as a classic snake-oil salesman, with an unctuous manner and a selfless self-presentation that is actually a mask for a raging egomania. But, that aside, Null, like many health freaks, is an HIV denialist. That is, he denies that HIV is a cause of AIDS, and that AIDS is a contagious disease. He said recently on another radio show that “Everything about AIDS is a lie, it’s a fraud being perpetrated….” That sort of talk really excites the credulous, for sure....

I think something similar is going on with the appeal of alterna-health gurus. People are confused by actual science and repelled by its debasement by the pursuit of money. Everyone knows how drug companies taint research and medical practice is distorted by fee maximization. So to escape that unpleasant reality, connoisseurs of quackery embrace the critique offered by the likes of Null, who confidently declare that the official line on AIDS is just a fraud. (In that, they can sound like climate change denialists, who think the whole story of warming is a fraud perpetrated by academics.)

Something for MJS to chew on, given the mental incontinence he displayed when a comparison was drawn on this site between the position of Alexander Cockburn on climate change and position of the original Dr Beetroot's on HIV.


"volunteering to man the trenches to try and slow down the juggernaut"

translation: "hit the comments sections to some end or other."

It ain't a period of revolutionary sacrifice... even the insurrectionists are reactionary (muslims)... around the USA we are like NFL players... once guys played wounded for peanuts (1950's)... not now, they make too much money, have too much to lose. And so it goes for us all, even if all we have is peanuts, it's is too much to risk. Revolt is too inconvenient. Nobody want to put up with the harassment of the police and the courts. It is an issue of self image. Trace it to what you will, there will be no revolt to slow any of the many crunching juggernauts.


translation: "hit the comments sections to some end or other."

Hey, you know something, nonny? Fuck you and the horse you rode in on.

translation: go to every open hearing where this fuckheads actually have (so far) to expose themselves to the parents. Make it clear (or as clear as we can without getting arrested) that we are angry, that we think they are worthless looters. Sit around on every open forum where some piece-of-shit charter school with a bunch of sorority Heathers on the board and a 90% teacher turnover ratio may be conspiring to take away badly needed public school space, and extract whatever information we can use to try and stop it. Inform all the other parents of what Arne, Cathy and Joel are up to. Organize actions from letter writing to street protests to legal action. Etc, etc, etc.

No, I am not assaulting the Winter Palace yet. But I am definitely ready to break some glass in front of the cameras at the Department of Education headquarters, just so long as I am not the only one doing it. And you know what? I think we are getting there, slowly but surely. I've found New Yorkers to be among the less stupid Americans, generally speaking.


"Revolt is too inconvenient"

anon what are u suggesting

sure say the uaw could pull some horse opera
say a plant occupation
or a student -worker alliance
loosely slapped together
could mime revolt ala the french

i'm reminded of the unionists that dreamed of general strikes
as if that in itself would indicate a coming climactic over throw
when most oftem almost always a GS
the climax of that episode of the class struggle in that national area

but i suspect that's not what you have in mind
since the risks there tend to be more civil suits then serious criminal prosecution
could you mean a community uprising ???
a demo that morphs into a seattle ???
but everywhere
a long hot winter of discontent

you must mean somethin way outlaw

my generation had a scattering of those spirits if u're one
u're ilk are always with is
though if you were its likely you'd shup up about long b4 you went "active"

taking a comfy chair tour of this:

frustration takes both
a spectator form
booing the players and especially the bench warmers

and a participant frustration
hacking each other in the huddle

its not clear what this outburst suggests
as to where positionally you're at
in the general class struggle context

you operate somewhere if only here eh??

but suggesting to commenters
they lack the balls or ovaries
to rebel ???

here comrade ...here ??

a form of self mockery
intended or not

to the extent "this " commenting
is all we do
we are all here after all
commenting or just reading
as u suggest
yup now we're just
booing fans

okay a boo is just a boo

even if on rare occasion
the booer turns loco
and races in felt hat and tweed overcoat
out onto the field
straight from the stands
to tackle an opposing break away runner

go do that if you must
it'll release some of that tea pot fury in ya

Anon 10:50 AM:

Those are good suggestions for resistance. But the caveat, very reasonable caveat: "just so long as I am not the only one doing it" is a climb down that suggests why THEY always win.

Rode in on winged sandals BTW and you may do with 'em as you see fit.

This is one of your best ever slap backs IMO.

Has anyone noticed who the victorious school board insurrectionists are of late? Christian fundamentalists, creationists, reactionaries.

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