"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Friday, May 16, 2008

Obama Closer to Daley than to Wright

by George Schmidt

Rev. Jeremiah Wright is speaking for the majority of Black people who live in America's most segregated city, Chicago. Let's just put this in a few additional perspectives. Chicago, today (2008) has more all-black public schools than all of the cities of the Old Confederacy combined. There are 300 segregated all-black pubic elementary and high schools in Chicago today. That is the product of the policies of 50 generations of Daleys -- and of the people who ally themselves with the Daleys to rule this city in a certain way.

As we've shared with people here, Barack Obama has had more than enough time to distance himself from Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley's corporate version of "school reform." He has not done so. But since the Clintons have praised Daley's "school reform" work going back a decade now, it simply means that Obama and Clinton take the same practical position regarding these realities. Bill Clinton praised Daley's teacher bashing union busting test based privatization oriented "school reform" in two state of the union addresses; Hillary was often with President Clinton when he came to Chicago to meeting with Mayor Daley and praise the rampages against the public schools that were then going on under Mayor Daley and Paul Vallas.

In Chicago, the Business Roundtable has been around for more than 100 years in the form of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club. They have always been part of the attack on democratic equitable public schools here. They wrote "Renaissance 2010," which for the past five years has provided the script for the privatization of more than 50 Chicago public schools (most turned into charters after enormous teacher bashing using phony "data").

Barack Obama has been silent on all of those teacher bashing (and union busting) crimes against public education, and on all of the privatization that began in 1995 here and is accelerating to this day.

From a Chicago point of view, it is one thing to perhaps make nice with Mayor Daley in order to garner votes (and delegates) but quite another thing to publicly criticize Jeremiah Wright and not ever say one word critical of all of the corruption of the Daley administration -- of which corporate "school reform" is just one piece.


The record is getting more and more clear. Those of us who have voted for Barack Obama before and are likely to do so again should at least go into the polling places with a clear eye.

When I heard and read Barack Obama's attack (and it's an attack, people, read it carefully) on Rev. Jeremiah Wright (and the pile on from the media -- "left" to right -- after Barack gave everybody the green light to attack Wright), I was reminded of the attacks (that's a plural) in the media on Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King in 1967 and 1968, after King came out clearly against the Vietnam War and clearly on the side of working people.

Jeremiah Wright, not Barack Obama, is now in the presence of Dr. King and Dr. King's traditions.

Barack Obama is in the presence of the traditions of Chicago's Daley family, which attacked Dr. King in 1966, 1967 and 1968 here in Chicago (both directly and through media).

Let's just go into this next iteration of "Election 2008" with a clear eye. I write this as a person who has met Barack Obama on numerous occasions, who has voted for him and supported him in many other ways, and who is saddened by the fact that in Barack Obama we are going to elect a corporate Neoliberal, University of Chicago ideologue, who has never opposed Chicago's monstrous neoliberal attacks on working class and poor people -- corporate "housing reform" and corporate "school reform."

We have reasons to oppose some of the work of Jeremiah Wright here at Substance. Wright, for example, is now sponsoring a charter school that will open in September in CPS, part of the overall attack on the city's public schools. But there can be little doubt among people who read what Wright actually said at the National Press Clubs, the NAACP, and to Bill Moyers during the past week that Wright's tradition is more in the traditions of Martin Luther King than Barack Obama's. That may be fine with many people. It brings great sadness to many of the rest of us.

George N. Schmidt
Editor, Substance

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