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

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Negative Truth about Positive Psychology

Chris Hedges has a nice intro to the corporate culture brainwashing technique mastered by CIA consultant, Dr. Martin Seligman. As I have noted elsewhere, this is the same intervention adopted by Feinberg and Levin for the children of the poor in KIPP, Inc. schools, where children are trained to ignore their poverty through a double whammy application of learned helplessness followed by unending doses of learned optimism. And it is no coincidence that the philanthro-capitalists are lined up in support of this new psychological and cultural reform masked as education reform. The new eugenics has arrived at the same time that the funding piece has been put in place to make sure that the poor receive the treatments they require in the segregated, corporate-run charter schools that our President is so keen on.

There is even a middle class child version of this corporate cultism sponsored by Pepperidge Farms called "Fishful Thinking." Get it? So while encouraging more consumption of these tasty morsels of grease and salt, moms can learn how to continue the mind control techniques on their unsuspecting children at home. If they are lucky, these children will be so optimistic by the time they are adults, they will never notice that the world is burning up around them.

From the Hedges piece, published originally at Truth.dig but clipped here from Common Dreams:

. . . . The driving ideology of corporate culture is a blind faith in the power and virtue of the corporate collective. All quotas can be met. All things are possible. Profits can always be raised. It is only a question of the right attitude. The highest form of personal happiness, we are told, is when the corporation thrives. Corporate retreats are built around this idea of merging the self with the corporate collective. They often have the feel of a religious revival. They are designed to whip up emotions. Office managers and sales staffs are given inspirational talks by sports stars, retired military commanders, billionaires and self-help specialists like Tony Robbins who tell them, in essence, the impossible is always possible. And when this proves not to be true it is we who are the problem. We simply have to try harder.

The belief that by thinking about things, by visualizing them, by wanting them, we can make them happen is magical thinking. The purpose, structure and goals of the corporation can never be questioned. To question, to engage in criticism of the corporate collective, is to be obstructive and negative. We can always make more money, meet new quotas and advance our career if we have enough faith. This magical thinking is largely responsible for our economic collapse since any Cassandra who saw it coming was dismissed as "negative." This childish belief discredits legitimate concerns and anxieties. It exacerbates despair and passivity. It fosters a state of self-delusion. And it has perverted the way we think about the nation and ourselves.

Corporate employees, like everyone else, are gripped by personal dilemmas, anxieties and troubles. They are not permitted, however, to ask whether the problem is the corporate structure and the corporate state. If they are not happy there is, they are told, something wrong with them. Real debate, real clashes of opinion, are, in the happy world of corporatism, forbidden. They are considered rude. The corporations enforce a relentless optimism that curtails honest appraisal of reality and preserves hierarchical forms of organization under the guise of "participation." Corporate culture provides, as Christopher Lasch pointed out, a society dominated by corporate elites with an anti-elitist ideology.

Positive psychology, which claims to be able to engineer happiness and provides the psychological tools for enforcing corporate conformity, is to the corporate state what eugenics was to the Nazis. Positive psychology is a quack science that throws a smoke screen over corporate domination, abuse and greed. Those academics who preach it are awash in corporate grants. They are invited to corporate retreats to assure corporate employees that they can find happiness by sublimating their selves into corporate culture. They hold academic conferences. They publish a Journal of Happiness Studies and a World Database of Happiness. There are more than a hundred courses on positive psychology available on college campuses. The University of Pennsylvania offers a master of applied positive psychology program chaired by Martin Seligman, considered the father of the discipline, and author of "Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment." The School of Behavioral and Organizational Sciences at Claremont Graduate University offers a Ph.D. and M.A. concentrations on what it calls "the Science of Positive Psychology." Degree programs are also available at the University of East London and in Milan and Mexico City.

Dr. Tal D. Ben-Shahar, who wrote "Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment," taught hugely popular courses at Harvard University titled "Positive Psychology" and "The Psychology of Leadership." He called himself, when he taught at Harvard, the "Harvard Happiness Professor."

"There is mounting evidence in the psychological literature showing that focusing on cultivating strengths, optimism, gratitude, and a positive perspective can lead to growth during difficult times," Ben-Shahar has stated.

Positive psychology therapy instructs patients to write a letter of gratitude to someone who has been kind to them. Patients pen little essays called "You at your best" in which they are asked "to write about a time when they were at their best and then to reflect on personal strengths displayed in the story." They are instructed to "review the story once every day for a week and to reflect on the strengths they had identified." And the professionals argue that their research shows that many of their patients have "lastingly increased happiness and decreased depressive symptoms."

Ben-Shahar pumps out the catchy slogans and clichés that color all self-improvement schemes. ‘‘Learn to fail or fail to learn," he says, and ‘‘not ‘it happened for the best,' but ‘how can I make the best of what happened?' "

He argues that if a traumatic episode can result in post-traumatic stress disorder it may be possible to create the opposite phenomenon with a single glorious, ecstatic experience. This could, he says, dramatically change a person's life for the better.

Those who fail to exhibit positive attitudes, no matter the external reality, are seen as maladjusted and in need of assistance. Their attitudes need correction. Once we adopt an upbeat vision of reality, positive things will happen. This belief encourages us to flee from reality when reality does not elicit positive feelings. These specialists in "happiness" have formulated something they call the "Law of Attraction." It argues that we attract those things in life, whether it is money, relationships or employment, which we focus on. Suddenly, abused and battered wives or children, the unemployed, the depressed and mentally ill, the illiterate, the lonely, those grieving for lost loved ones, those crushed by poverty, the terminally ill, those fighting with addictions, those suffering from trauma, those trapped in menial and poorly paid jobs, those whose homes are in foreclosure or who are filing for bankruptcy because they cannot pay their medical bills, are to blame for their negativity. The ideology justifies the cruelty of unfettered capitalism, shifting the blame from the power elite to those they oppress. And many of us have internalized this pernicious message, which in times of difficulty leads to personal despair, passivity and disillusionment.

This flight into the collective self-delusion of corporate ideology, especially as we undergo financial collapse and the pillaging of the U.S. treasury by corporations, is no more helpful in solving our problems than alchemy. But there are university departments and reams of pseudoscientific scholarship to give an academic patina to the fantasy of happiness and success through positive thinking. The message that we can have everything we want if we dig deep enough inside ourselves, if we truly believe we are exceptional, is pumped out daily over the airwaves in advertisements, through the plot and story lines of television programs and films, and bolstered by the sickeningly cheerful and upbeat banter of well-groomed television hosts. This is the twisted ideological lens through which we view the world.

"From my two years at the company: positive psychology is a euphemism for spin," Vasquez went on. "They try to spin their employees so much they can't tell right from left, and in the process they forget they do the work of three people, have no health insurance, and three-quarters of their paycheck goes to rent."

This ideology condemns all social critics, iconoclasts, dissidents and individualists, for failing to seek fulfillment in the collective chant of the corporate herd. It strangles creativity and moral autonomy. It is about being molded and shaped into a compliant and repressed collective. It is not, at its core, about happiness. It is about conformity, a conformity that all totalitarian and authoritarian structures seek to impose on the crowd. Its unrealistic promise of happiness, in fact, probably produces more internal anxiety and feelings of inadequacy than genuine happiness. The nagging undercurrents of alienation, the constant pressure to exhibit a false enthusiasm and buoyancy, the loneliness of a work life in which one must always be about upbeat presentation, the awful feeling that being positive may not in fact work if one is laid off, are buried and suppressed.

There are no gross injustices, no abuses to question, no economic systems to challenge in the land of happy thoughts. In the land of happy thoughts we are to blame if things go wrong. The corporate state, we are assured, is beneficent and good. It will make us happy and comfortable and prosperous even as it funnels billions of taxpayer dollars into its bank accounts. Mao and Stalin used the same language of harmony and strength through the collective, the same love of spectacles and slogans, the same coercive power of groups and state propaganda, to enslave and impoverish millions of their citizens. And, if we do not free ourselves from the grip of this ideology and the corporate vampires who disseminate it, this is what will happen to us.

Chris Hebdon assisted with reporting this story.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Teach For America, British Style

Teach First, a program in England modeled after Teach For America, is profiled in the most recent edition of the Economist. Those familiar with the TFA propaganda talking points will find this article unsurprising:
1. Teachers come from the bottom 1/3 of "the class"
2. Tormer Teach Firsters are eager to start their own school (the British equivalents of YES, KIPP, IDEA - the alphabet soup of charter chains started by former TFAers)
3. Alternative path credentialing (with those "boring" classes - you know, child psychology, education and social foundations, school and society, theory classes) is not needed by the chosen few graduating from prestigious universities,
4. and the, "All Children Can Learn!" mantra that wipes away any collective responsibility for how we treat our children and the living conditions created by neoliberal globalization.
Yes, every child can learn - if we provide them adequate healthcare, prenatal care, nutritious food, violence- and drug-free neighborhoods, and psychological stability. But we don't. Instead, we'll hear more TFA propaganda about the inadequacy of current teachers and the do-gooders looking to make a pit stop out of the teaching profession on their way to bigger salaries and more glory.
From the Economist (my bolds):

Those Who Can

Jul 30th 2009 | CANTERBURY
The Economist print edition

Education reforms will never work unless teaching attracts more high-fliers

“I SET up a Fantasy Football competition between some of my toughest pupils,” one young man explains. “They get goal-keeping points for good attendance, and defence points for behaving well. Good punctuation and spelling translate into their midfield performance, and coming up with good ideas, into attack.” Around the room, pens scribble furiously. “Pupil X hated me,” a woman tells the group; she describes how she changed that with weekly phone calls to his parents and postcards praising his (intermittent) good behaviour. More notes are made.

This is the Teach First summer institute: six weeks in Canterbury, a southern cathedral city, at the end of which nearly 500 new university graduates will teach full-time, for £15,000 ($24,500) a year, in some of England’s toughest schools. The 360 who started the programme last year are here too, handing on to the raw recruits their tips for coping with bad behaviour and keeping lessons fresh, and demonstrating to their tutors what they have learned. In another year, those old hands will be qualified teachers, trained on the job and in tutorials and summer schools.

The result is a general sense that the country’s teachers have been scraped from the bottom of the barrel. That makes it unlikely that ambitious graduates will consider joining the profession, or stay in it if recession persuades them to do so briefly.Recruiting the right kind of teachers has been difficult in England for some time, and though recession has brought temporary relief, the task is getting bigger as those hired to teach the baby boom near retirement. Head teachers, worn down by constant official policy changes and an avalanche of paperwork, are retiring early. A study in 2007 by McKinsey, a consultancy, concluded that countries whose students perform well tend to recruit teachers from the top of the class. But a recent report by Politeia, a think-tank, found that the bar for getting into teacher training in England is, by international standards, unusually low. Trainee teachers can resit basic literacy and numeracy tests as often as they like—and 13% need at least three goes at the latter. Around 1,200 each year graduated with the lowest class of degree, a third.

Modelled on Teach for America, a programme founded in 1989 that now trains 4,000 teachers a year, Teach First aims to reverse this vicious cycle by creating a route into teaching for high-fliers. Applicants are screened for leadership and communication skills, and the successful ones promise to teach for two years in “challenging” schools: those where few pupils get good exam results or where more than 30% are poor enough to receive free school meals. Such schools tend to have the least qualified teachers and to suffer from high turnover. One summer-school participant is about to start teaching mathematics to 15-year-olds who have had 22 teachers in the subject in the past three years.

Unlike government recruitment drives, which tend to present teaching as appealing, even easy, Teach First describes the job as tough and demanding because the right people are those who are attracted by the most daunting tasks. Few at the Canterbury summer school think they would have considered teaching without that approach: the standard one-year postgraduate course is, they say, “too slow”, “too theoretical” and “boring”. Strong links with businesses, including prestigious graduate recruiters who often scoop up those who decide not to stay in teaching, help bring them in too. Some employers, like HSBC, a bank that is one of the charity’s biggest donors, guarantee those who leave after their two years a first-round interview.

Since 2003, when it received 1,300 applicants for just 200 places, Teach First has grown fast. Nearly a tenth of Oxford’s class of 2009 will be Teaching First this autumn. The programme already has its first head teacher, Max Haimendorf, hired to lead a new school in London after just three years teaching. It expects to take on 850 recruits in 2012, making it one of Britain’s largest graduate recruiters. To date almost three-fifths have stayed on after their two-year stint, which means that retention of teachers is almost as good as with traditional routes into the classroom.

Around 40,000 people train to teach each year in England. Making Teach First the main way to do so would dilute the programme’s prestige—and there probably aren’t enough adrenalin junkies out there, anyway. Rather, the programme hopes to change the profession less directly. As Teach First becomes better known, teaching will start to be seen as a job for ambitious go-getters. It should help with the shortage of school heads, too. And if the Conservative Party wins the next general election, as seems likely, Teach Firsters may help to make its slightly half-baked plans to open hundreds of new schools a reality. Brett Wigdortz, the charity’s founder and chief executive, says that many participants tell him they would be keen to set up and lead new schools.

Those who do not stay in education will also be influential. Business leaders are apt to bemoan the awfulness of Britain’s school-leavers, but since few went to sink schools themselves, or send their own children to them, the remedies they prescribe are not notably informed. That should change as more executives are drawn from the programme’s ranks.

Teach First’s most important contribution, though, may be to shake up education research and policy. “New teachers bring fresh eyes to education,” says Mr Wigdortz. “Our chair of trustees, Dame Julia Cleverdon, often tells participants to keep a notebook and write down everything that strikes them as crazy in the first few months—because a year in, those things will seem normal. And two years in, when they have gained in experience and confidence, they should get that notebook out and start changing those things.”

Almost all education-policy documents and research papers these days start with a reminder that a child’s family background is by far the strongest influence on his educational achievement. This evident truth could spur teachers to greater efforts to lean against that wind; instead, it is generally used to explain away poor children’s weaker performance. Teach First challenges such defeatism. “We believe educational inequity is a solvable problem,” says Mr Wigdortz, “and that the way to solve it is to get the best people teaching in the most challenging schools.”

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Commentary on "Race to the Top"

Last updated October 2, 2010

From Substance News:

Editorial: The Reagan Legacy and the Obama Agenda, or A Race at Risk
Jim Horn - July 28, 2009

Soon after Ronald Reagan came to Washington, he began wondering aloud in prepared speeches if the push for civil rights had damaged American institutions such as schools during the previous two decades. In 1983, the year of A Nation at Risk, came this: “The schools were charged by the federal courts in the correcting of long-standing injustices in our society—racial segregation, sex discrimination, lack of opportunity for the handicapped. Perhaps there was just too much to do in too little time.” As William Raspberry noted in 2004, it was not a coincidence that Reagan chose, in 1980, to announce his presidential campaign embracing “states rights” in Philadelphia, Mississippi, where three civil rights workers were murdered in 1964. The symbolism could not have been mistaken.

Nine years before Reagan’s 1983 speech and the accompanying doom and gloom projections of A Nation at Risk, it was the 5-4 Nixon SCOTUS decision in Milliken v Bradley, which struck down the inter-district busing plan that was put in place to achieve desegregation of Detroit schools. By 1986 school integration had peaked in the U. S. and resegregation of schools had begun, with school integration from that point forward on a steady march backwards—a march that remains unchecked today, as resegregation and apartheid schooling have become the silent, unquestioned norms across America. And so the push for equality in education that the Civil Rights Movement spawned became displaced by the reemergence of market-based cult of efficiency in education. Inspired by white racism and corporatism, the new get-tough reform agenda introduced a sea change that overnight made the prospect of “educationally excellent and economically poor” even more of a statistical oddity than it had ever been before.

And so it was that the accountability through high stakes testing that took hold in the Reagan Era helped solidify the return to apartheid schooling, since test scores then and now were and are as predictable, as Alfie Kohn has pointed out, as the sizes of the houses in the neighborhoods where the tested children live.

With no one wanting to buy a home in a neighborhood with low-scoring schools and the constant threat of school closure now under NCLB, the segregation of the poor has taken on new urgency as schools and communities seek to shed the poor who bring test failure with them to any school they attend.

Ostensibly to raise test scores in these resegregated schools for the urban poor, there has emerged a curriculum caste system based predictably, once more, on family income and wealth. In most of the poor, the brown, and the black schools of America, children are targeted victims of an anti-cultural, low-level regimen of test prep and regurgitation of facts—the bulimic curriculum, if you will.

In the middle class leafy suburbs, however, children are engaged as they always have been in minds-on and hands-on projects that stimulate creativity and problem solving. It is a higher-order thinking curriculum, as opposed to an anti-thinking one, with those who have always been at the top of the race now deciding once more the rules for the new “Race to the Top.”

We might have expected something to be done about these crimes against poor children when a young African-American President came to Washington. Though it is still early in the Obama Administration for sure, it is not too early to see clearly and tragically that the policies that Mr. Obama and Mr. Duncan are embracing will only accelerate the resegregation of American schools, while deepening of divisions within the curriculum caste system that high stakes testing enables and encourages. And while Mr. Duncan is to be credited for his tireless PR tour aimed at generating excitement about the $4.35 billion in lubrication for the various state vehicles in the new “Race to the Top,” those willing to say already know who is going to win that race.

The winners will not be urban poor children, who will be further segregated now in the corporate charter schools that will be seeded and nurtured from the $4.35 billion. Where poor parents heretofore at least could attend a public meeting and have their voices heard in a public forum, these new non-profit charters that often hire for-profit outfits to run them, operate under the unregulated thumbs of CEOs whose unquestioned authority is not to be, well, questioned.

And even though Mr. Obama assured the readers of the Washington Post last week that decisions for funding the Race to the Top “will be based on what works,” a study released by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University last month found that only 17 percent of charter schools nationwide produce better results than the public schools they would replace. Not only that, but minority children are suffering the most in the charter schools that are worse (37%) or no better than (42%) the public schools. Yet, in Mr. Duncan’s words, states that refuse to lift charter caps will be “at a competitive disadvantage.”

The winners of the Race to the Top will not be teachers, who will be further humiliated by having meager pay raises to their embarrassingly low salaries now dependent upon test score production work. Again, in Mr. Duncan’s words, “states that explicitly prohibit linking data on achievement or student growth to principal and teacher evaluations will be ineligible for reform dollars.” It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what effect this will have on which teachers will end up with the lowest test performing students.

Among the winners will not be the embattled teaching profession, since Mr. Duncan prefers the marginally-prepared and the alternatively-certified teachers to those with real credentials based on both content and pedagogy expertise. Mr. Duncan and his philanthro-capitalist patrons (Gates, Broad, Waltons, Dells, Fishers, etc.) prefer those semi-skilled, disposable, historically-blank, and pedagogically-ignorant recruits who must depend upon the teacher-proofed parrot learning models promoted as Direct Instruction in the urban schools.

The winners will not be poor parents who would like schools for their children just like the schools attended by children in the leafy suburbs, schools with school libraries, sports facilities, drama clubs, music and band, art rooms, high tech shops. Mr. Duncan and the Oligarchs in charge of crafting federal education policy believe in the expansion of that crusading entrepreneurial spirit that can turn a shutdown pizza joint in a strip mall into a thriving school grounded by the philosophy of “no excuses.” No library? No excuse. No supper when you get home from a ten hour school day? No excuse. No health care? Same.

The winners will not be those who believe that local education decisions should be made locally by elected school boards. Mr. Duncan has come out publicly in favor of one-man mayoral rule of urban “public” school systems. No nosy parents, please, and no school board members to provide oversight or to impose those burdensome regulations.

The winners will not be those who cherish the notion of state and local curriculums that can be adjusted to the needs of local communities: Mr. Duncan has $350 million to get the ball rolling on national testing, which is the centerpiece for an impending third generation of doing more of the same failed reforms and calling it something different.

The winners will not be those who express reservations about the development of a K-20 student and instructor data surveillance system that may or may not be used ethically by CEO wannabes in the administrative offices of the new corporate welfare schools.

On the US DOE website, the final sentence in the press release for the “Race to the Top” states that “it represents a historic opportunity to restore America's global leadership in education.” The truth is that America’s “leadership in education” has never been in jeopardy in the leafy suburbs. As Gerald Bracey has pointed out for the past twenty years, take out the high-poverty school children from the comparisons, and America ranks right up there with the top high flyers on international test scores in math and science, or any other testing criterion. So the new version of more of the same with the added benefit of corporate control of public schools is once again masked in the fear-mongering rhetoric that has driven the eugenicists and efficiency zealots for the past hundred years.

It should come as no surprise, then, that Republicans are lined up in support of the continuation of the Reagan legacy of dumping equity and equality agendas for more corporate-controlled back-to-basics anti-education policies for the poor, which are built upon behavioral interventions that seek to re-engineer the minds of urban school children. In fact, global warming and skyrocketing energy costs could set off a race to the top of a very altered global economy that may require our own homegrown versions of the Chinese and Indian workers whose schooling methods we are keen to emulate for the lower classes of our own disposable children whose race for the foreseeable future will be to support the “Race to the Top” by the race at the top. 

Shop at Gap Inc, Support TFA

For the next four days you can use this coupon to get 30% off all Gap Inc. clothing (all Gap, Old Navy, and Banana Republic stores). Added bonus: Gap Inc. will donate 5% of what you spent to Teach For America. It's American consumption with an extra dash of misguided philanthropy: head to malls in the leafy suburbs or metropolitan temples of consumption to buy clothing made by unfairly compensated overseas laborers (or outright child labor, of which Gap Inc. has a mighty impressive record) and then donate a little extra to support temporary laborers looking for a short gig in public education before jumping to more lucrative sectors (or starting their own charter school). Parents affluent enough to shop at Gap stores can rest assured that their little Jimmy or Jenny are wearing hip clothing while their purchase subsidizes ill-prepared teachers for America's urban schools serving mostly non-white students.

Bloomberg Solution to Homelessness: Export the Poor

In a continuing attempt to turn Gotham into a Disney version of itself, the Little Prince has decided to offer one-way plane tickets to anywhere for the poor. Can you imagine how test score will zoom in New York City if Bloomberg and Klein can export all the poor children? Now that's reform. From the Guardian:

New York has found a novel, if expensive, way of dealing with its overcrowded shelters – buying one-way tickets for homeless families to leave the city.

Under the initiative, by the administration of the mayor, Michael Bloomberg, hundreds of families have been given plane, rail, and bus tickets and even petrol vouchers to leave the city. One homeless family of five was given $6,332 (nearly £4,000) worth of travel costs to Paris, according to the New York Times.

The city justifies such costs because it argues the alternative is more expensive. It costs New York's taxpayers $36,000 to put up a homeless family in a night shelter for a year.

Families can qualify for the tickets if they have a relative in another part of the world, including the US, who says they are willing to house them.

Since the $500,000-a-year scheme was launched in 2007, 550 homeless families have been paid to leave the city. None have come back.

"We want to divert as many families as we can that need assistance," Vida Chavez-Downes, a city official said.

"We have paid for visas, we've gone down to the consulate, we've provided letters, we've paid for passports for people to go. Anyone who comes through our door."

Critics have dismissed the initiative as a gimmick.

Arnold Cohen, head of a New York campaign group, Partnership for the Homeless, told the New York Times: "The city is engaged in cosmetics. What we're doing is passing the problem of homelessness to another city. We're taking people from a shelter bed here to the living room couch of another family. Essentially, this family is still homeless." . . .

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Pearson eCollege, Privatization Outfit Announce Partnership in K12 Education Expansion; A Preview of the For-Profit Future

Peppered with neoliberal, market-based logic and blatant doublespeak, the NonPublic Educational Services, Inc, is teaming up with Pearson's eCollege to "enter into new online markets," and achieve "greater, measurable success for NESI and its students." From the PRWeb [my bolds]:

Pearson eCollege and NonPublic Educational Services, Inc. (NESI) Partner to Increase K12 Online Education Opportunities

NonPublic Educational Services, Inc. to Use Pearson eCollege to Enter New Online Markets

Denver (PRWEB) July 22, 2009 -- Pearson eCollege and NonPublic Educational Services, Inc. (NESI) have announced a multi-year partnership to increase online K12 education opportunities for a wide range of high school students, including students from military families. NESI will use Pearson eCollege's integrated education technology environment to offer high school students a complete online learning solution, leading to greater, measurable success for NESI and its students.

Pearson eCollege is the leading global provider of online education technology, content solutions and support services at hundreds of successful blended and fully online academic programs and institutions. NESI, which operates education and training programs and services for K12 students and members of the US military, selected Pearson eCollege because the company offers more than just a learning management system--Pearson eCollege combines on-demand cloud computing capabilities with Pearson's world-class content, digital media and academic services.

Partnering with Pearson eCollege will enable NESI to enter new online markets serving more students with capabilities unmatched by any other provider. These new opportunities include an international, dual-degree program that allows high school students outside the US to earn both a local in-country degree and an online degree from Richard Milburn High School (RMHS), a subsidiary of NESI. For the past five years, RMHS has operated a summer credit recovery program for the Department of Defense Education Authority (DODEA) serving high school-age dependents of US serviceman living abroad. RMHS offers a 12-month credit recovery program and a full academic year program for US high school students. NESI and RMHS are also developing other online programs to serve evolving student needs for flexible online education options.

"We needed a partner who was willing to work directly with NESI, creatively and collaboratively, to create online learning solutions for our students. Pearson eCollege is a breath of fresh air," said Rochelle Schneickert, Division Vice President at NESI. "They were the only provider willing to support our concept for best-in-breed online education delivery. With Pearson eCollege, we now have a learning environment partner that provides the most reliable learning network available, student information service (SIS) integration, support services we know we can trust, and a vast choice of curriculum."

"Both Pearson eCollege and NESI continually invest in services that enhance student achievement," said Matt Leavy, CEO of Pearson eCollege. "Our partnership with NESI will offer greater access to education opportunities via our connected learning environment, helping more students to compete in today's competitive, technology-driven marketplace."

"We researched several online platforms before deciding that Pearson eCollege was the smart choice," said Greg Shield, director of the Milburn High School Online programs at NESI. "NESI chose a proven industry leader with a comprehensive solution that included the technology we needed. The Pearson eCollege cloud-computing model reduced the overall risk of delivering courses online."

About Pearson eCollege
Pearson eCollege enables educators to achieve measurable success for academic programs through on-demand solutions that advance and improve the teaching and learning experience for learners in multiple types of educational institutions and programs. Pearson eCollege provides integrated technology and services, content solutions and multi-level user support that help students reach their academic goals. Pearson (LSE: PSON, NYSE: PSO), the global leader in education and education technology, reaches and engages today's digital natives with effective and personalized learning, as well as dedicated professional development for their teachers. Pearson is dedicated to helping people of all ages to learn at their own pace, in their own way. In addition to Education, Pearson's primary operations include the Financial Times Group and the Penguin Group. For more information, visit www.ecollege.com orwww.pearson.com.

The for-profit privatization outfit - pardon me, "NonPublic Educational Services, Inc." - does include a few nonprofit charter schools, but majority of their work if mighty lucrative: NCLB tutoring, military training, and for-profit schools. I'll let the privatizers to explain their current financial stake in education. Right from their website (it's from the Military section, but describes the entire organization's financial statement; my bold):

Corporate Experience

RMHS Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of NESI, was founded in 1975 to provide educational and management services in nonpublic and nontraditional settings across the nation. In 2006, RMHS and NESI employed more than 1,000 personnel and achieved total consolidated revenue over $30,000,000. The company is incorporated in the Commonwealth of Virginia, with corporate headquarters in Woodbridge, Virginia and Salem, Massachusetts Currently, NESI and RMHS are managing instructional support programs in 30 locations within 12 states, and internationally in Korea.

Looking at their map of operations, you'll notice their K12 experience is right in states where NCLB has ripped open the moneybags for privatization outfits (although I suppose you could say NCLB opened up additional funding for privatization in every state). Thirty million per year - and they know the Obama/Duncan plan includes even more potential payouts as the DOE searches for operators of the 5000 new schools Duncan hopes to see turned over.
It should not be a surprise to see for-profit enterprises teaming up with the US Military to provide educational services and training. In fact, many of the neoliberal and neoconservative reformers would love many of the aspects of the Department of Defense's educational arm, the DODEA: high level of discipline, strict academic standards and curricula across all schools, and the "all kids can learn" positivism (note: the majority of their students live on military bases and have full medical and dental care, food, housing, and other essentials either provided for free or for low cost - which is certainly not the case for the rest of America). An Education Sector intern recently gushed about the DODEA's K-12 education system without the slightest consideration bit of irony.
But this isn't about education; it's all about profits, expanding markets, creating good little worker bees, and the assault on all things public. We have former corporate CEO's investing in online MBA programs, textbooks ignoring global warming even in one of the nation's most progressive cities, and former charter school proponents jumping to the online schooling gig where they can find even higher salaries as they schlock online software and data programs. "All children can learn!" is the simplified drumbeat that permits the denial of vast social injustices of poverty, inadequate healthcare, environmental toxins, and the oppressive nature of American society as currently constructed - all in the name of profits or small government. Such is the logic behind the new wave of hyper-efficiency, technology-driven reforms, and standardization preached by the various school reformers. Pearson and the NonPublic Educational Services, Inc. couldn't be much happier.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Explaining the Mumbo Jumbo to the Dumbos

The proudly-stupid Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana had this to say the other day about that citified, new-fangled college talk that them there teachers is using on our kids in Indiana:

“Arne Duncan could not be superintendent or principal in Indiana,” Daniels said of Obama’s education chief and former superintendent of Chicago schools. “He doesn’t have the right credentials.” The governor enunciated “credentials.”

Asked about how the Ball State University teachers college will have to adapt, Daniels explained, “When the Professional Licensing Board begins starting next week to redefine what is required to get a teaching license in Indiana, the schools of education are going to have to make some major changes of their own. They are not going to need as many people teaching what to me is mumbo jumbo. We’re going to expect students who want to teach spending much more of their time studying the subject they are going to be teaching in the schools
There are good reason besides credentials that Arne Duncan should not be a superintendent or a principal, not the least of which is his promotion of an entirely unethical and abusive use of tests in schools. But this post is to offer the anti-education capitalists in charge of U. S. education policy a basic primer in some of the coursework regularly offered as part of accredited initial certification teacher preparation programs. Most of these course descriptions are from Alverno College, one of the top teacher ed programs in the country. A few are California Lutheran University. If Governor Mitch had his way, we would dispose of this kind of unnecessary mumbo-jumbo.
Social and Cultural Foundations in Education 3 credits

The historical, social and cultural foundations of American education, as seen through a historical narrative, with an emphasis on the diversity of contemporary schooling. Major philosophies of education which have informed American education and how they affect schooling in a society of multiple cultures. Fieldwork required.

Theories of Teaching, Learning and Development 3 credits
Theories of teaching, assessment and development of learning. The influence of those theories on content, methods, and classroom environment, including the use of technology, and their application in improving academic achievement for all students. Fieldwork required.
Human Development and Learning
(3 credits)

Students examine theories that address the development of cognition, emotion, and motivation as they apply to learners of various ages, cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds, and learning needs. Students evaluate the application of theories in diverse learning environments, building an understanding of the dynamic interaction between and among teaching, learning, and assessment in work with adolescents and young adults.

General Methods of Teaching
(4 credits)

Studying a variety of instructional models and learning theories, students plan and implement differentiated instruction and assessment, reflecting both the Wisconsin Model Academic Standards and the Wisconsin Teacher Standards. Students analyze multiple classroom settings to design model learning communities focused on student engagement and learning. They design, evaluate, and use technology to enhance learning environments, and they address the teacher as professional by developing an initial philosophy of education. To provide an opportunity to apply their learning with regard to instructional design, students are assigned a minimum of 20 hours in a field experience in which they work with diverse middle and/or high school learners.

Literacy in Early Childhood
(3 credits)

Students examine the scope of an early childhood literacy curriculum, focusing on emergent literacy, oral language, reading, writing, and literature. Among components integrated in this course are phonics, spelling, and sight vocabulary. Students learn to make sound decisions, teach literacy learning strategies, select appropriate materials, and design developmentally appropriate learning experiences and assessments for the early childhood learner.

Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment
(3 credits)

Prereq. LTM 611 ; LTM 612
Students learn to see the connections between large curricular goals and the assessment of student learning in the classroom. Employing a process called backward design, they identify performances that capture the big outcomes and design both appropriate instruction and meaningful performance assessment using specific criteria. They explore assessment-as-learning, a formative approach that includes criteria, self-assessment, and feedback to guide learning.

Fundamental Concepts of Mathematics 1
(4 credits)

This course, which integrates the learning of mathematics with methods of teaching, is designed for students who are preparing to teach at the elementary school level. Students study the mathematical structures and operations related to sets, whole numbers, integers, rational numbers, and real numbers. They use the properties of these systems to develop algorithms for the operations defined in each of the systems. They explore the use of manipulatives and technology in building understanding of concepts. Through the study of national, state, and local standards, and contemporary mathematics curriculum projects, they learn teaching strategies. They also gain experience with professional practices such as the development of lesson plans, unit plans, and assessment instruments designed for a variety of learning styles. Throughout the course, students evaluate themselves on their ability to analyze and solve problems as well as on their ability to communicate mathematics effectively.

Science and Social Studies in the Elementary Curriculum
(4 credits)

Prereq. LTM 611 ; LTM 612
In this course, students explore methods of teaching science and social studies at the elementary school level. Drawing upon previous experiences in lesson and unit planning, they incorporate science, health, social studies, and technological content knowledge with process skills and assessment strategies. Students design integrated learning experiences based on appropriate frameworks linking science and social studies to other content areas, including art, mathematics, and language arts.

The Learning Organization and Social Change
(3 credits)

Students draw upon a range of disciplines and theories to examine organizational culture, including patterns of leadership, authority, and communication and their impact on the climate of the organization. They analyze case studies of organizational change, identifying sources of success and failure. Critiquing varied approaches in particular settings, they develop proposals for achieving goals for ongoing growth and improvement.

Arts and Movement in the Elementary Curriculum
(2 credits)

Prereq. A 135 or MU 101
Students make meaningful and effective connections among the arts - music, art, dance, and drama - within the integrated elementary curriculum. They develop practical abilities in the integration of the arts and movement across the curriculum and apply teaching and learning theory in the design of developmentally appropriate lessons, the meaningful incorporation of technology, and the use of assessment strategies.

Literacy in Middle Childhood, Early Adolescence, and Adolescence
(4 credits)

Prereq. LTM 611 ; LTM 612
Students study the process, methods, and materials of literacy development in order to facilitate literacy in middle childhood and adolescence, recognizing the range of student needs they may encounter, including those of the non-native speaker of English. In addition, they develop approaches to the integration of language arts across the curriculum. Students learn to interpret standardized assessment information as well as to develop meaningful classroom assessments of literacy.

Portfolio Assessment
(0 credits)

The LTM 640 portfolio assessment demonstrates LTM students' readiness for student teaching. Students prepare a folder that documents their proficiency in the ten Wisconsin Teaching Standards and the Alverno graduate education abilities. The portfolio review process consists of two parts. First, an internal assessor (Alverno faculty member) and an external assessor (administrator, teacher) evaluate the portfolio against established criteria. Second, the assessors conduct an interview with each student in which the student highlights several artifacts, presents and comments on an electronic demonstration of teaching effectiveness, and answers questions on teaching, learning, and assessing in general and on portfolio contents in particular.

Educational Inquiry: Research in Action
(3 credits)

Prereq. AC 613
Students examine the nature of systematic inquiry by using an action research perspective as they address questions related to improvement of their practice. Focusing on the context of learning environments, they explore the assumptions and applications of varied methodological approaches. They develop skills in conceptualizing researchable questions and in designing research projects appropriate for their own professional practice and specific setting.

Student Teaching
(9 credits)

Prereq. LTM 640 ; Praxis II
Student teachers demonstrate the ability to apply their knowledge in the design and implementation of content-area lessons and in the establishment of appropriate relationships with learners that support growth. They develop a portfolio documenting their work and its impact on student learning as well as a professional development plan to guide their growth as beginning teachers. Student teaching is a full-time, full-semester commitment, based on the calendar of the local school.
If it isn't clear by now, Governor Mitch, how right you are about this mumbo-jumbo, perhaps it is time to visit one of these John Dewey Commie Camps to get a firsthand look at the indoctrination of American teacher candidates. Get some firsthand facts so that you can impress upon the people of your state how they would be so much better off with your cutting edge thinking on all matters educational. Who knows--you could be the next Republican Education President. Hard shoes to fill, Governor Mitch, but I think you have it in you.

Union Suits and Corporate Bosses

On Craig Gordon's new blog, he has this on, yet, another example of betrayal from union leadero who have chosen a place at the trough over the interests of education:
Posted July 27th, 2009 by Craig Gordon
California’s Democratic legislature and Republican governor have just agreed to a budget dealing new, devastating blows to poor and working people and another gift to corporations and the rich. It delivers $9 billion in cuts to kindergarten-through-university public education, and eliminates billions more in services to the families of low-income students. All proposals to mitigate the damage with new taxes, including a modest tax on oil production, were dropped. So naturally the California Teachers Association went all out to lobby for the budget’s approval. And when it passed Friday, CTA thanked “our many members who have reached out to Legislators and the Governor to ensure education is not forgotten during the budget crisis.”

Confused? You wouldn’t be if you’d been following CTA over the years. CTA regularly pumps up its membership to “fight” for school funding and then lets the air out in the name of pragmatism. In 2004 CTA affiliates around the state joined in the campaign to collect signatures for a ballot initiative to increase taxes on commercial property to fund public schools. After all of the time, effort, and $3.4 million of members’ dues had been spent qualifying the initiative for the ballot, CTA pulled the plug. The following year it repeated the scenario, this time announcing its withdrawal at a press conference flanked by manufacturers and commercial property owners who thanked CTA for backing off of progressive taxation that would have “severely damaged business, costing jobs and threatening our economy.” (Sacramento Bee, 8/5/2005) . . .
Do read on.

For Charter School Teachers It's A Race to the Bottom

Sam Dillon of the New York Times gives us a closer look at the Race to the Top. Looks like Arne Duncan and the BRT's plan to run roughshod over teachers and unions might be hitting some bumps in the road. In the race to the bottom for working Americans why should teachers be treated better than everyone else? Let the debate begin!

As Charter Schools Unionize, Many Debate Effect

CHICAGO — Dissatisfied with long hours, churning turnover and, in some cases, lower pay than instructors at other public schools, an increasing number of teachers at charter schools are unionizing.

.....But the unionization effort raises questions about whether unions will strengthen the charter movement by stabilizing its young, often transient teaching force, or weaken it by preventing administrators from firing ineffective teachers and imposing changes they say help raise achievement, like an extended school year.

Let's see now, where do you think this administration will come down on the question of whether unions will be good for charter schools? Hmmm....

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Jeb Bush Gives Obama, Duncan Two Thumbs Up

Jeb Bush's appearance at the National Forum on Education Policy, a gather looking to explore "how education can be an engine to ignite the economy" [all videos here]:

Highlights (lowlights):

What he'd do to improve public education (aka disaster capitalism applied to public education):

More school choice across the board. Create it, make it chaotic, if you will. To me, the chaos will create huge opportunities for a whole new set of people to join in this important process [ie his for-profit ventures and other "edupreneurs"] to make sure children gain a year’s worth of knowledge, rigorous knowledge, in a year’s time.

On education reform, Arne Duncan:

“I think for the first time in my political life at least, there seems to be more consensus than disagreement across the ideological spectrum about education reform. I’m very encouraged about Secretary Duncan’s advocacy of challenging the status quo, and I’m excited that Republicans seem to be not wanting to get into a food fight about this but to join forces and to find common ground.”
Access to education = internet access (so-called "compassionate conservative," digital style?). Forget about the reasons we have such an inequitable system; just plug in your computer!

“We can create a customized learning experience for each and every one of America’s 50 million students. Technology makes a lot of things possible. It tears down what is the single greatest barrier to a quality education and that’s access. Demography doesn’t have to define your destiny because your address no longer limits your options. In fact, if your address is a web address rather than a physical address the world is your…uh…access. You can access the highest quality possible. With the internet, you don’t have to be in the same room with the teacher to learn. Technology makes it possible for students to access knowledge across the town, across the state, across the country. In fact, we should be open enough to recognize in a global economy that it should be across the world.”

Please Share This with Your Congressman, Senator, and Even Mitch Daniels

Professor Wong is a naturalized American citizen who teaches at Michigan State. It may be downloaded here.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Gates/Dell/Walton Purchase Share of Charter Authorizer Association

It's not a coincidence that on the same day that Duncan officially announced the start of the "Race off the Cliff," the Gates, Dell, and Walton foundations donated $9.4 million to the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, a pro-charter/privatization nonprofit led by former Renaissance 2010 leader Greg Richmond. From the NACSA website:

NACSA Announces $9.4 Million in Grant Funding

Donors Recognize Need for High Quality Authorizing, Stronger Charter Schools

CHICAGO, July 24 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) announced today that it has received $9.4 million in investments from three of the nation's preeminent foundations -- the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation -- that recognize the need for consistent standards and accountability in charter school authorizing practices.

"We are pleased that these foundations are investing in NACSA to grow the number of high quality charter schools across the country," said Greg Richmond, President and CEO of NACSA. "The charter school movement is experiencing a powerful confluence of supporters and opportunities as President Obama and U.S. Secretary of Education Duncan work to increase the number of quality charter schools across the country. NACSA is well-positioned to sustain this work and implement sound strategies to ensure that all students have access to excellent educational opportunities."

With the funding, NACSA will launch a national initiative to strengthen the practices of authorizers in targeted cities and states by adopting professional standards and by working with external stakeholders to create a high quality charter sector.

"For nearly 10 years, NACSA has been at the forefront of the quality charter movement, working in cities and states to strengthen the charter sector," said Jim Goenner, Chairman of NACSA's Board of Directors. "This investment will allow NACSA to further its work, expand its capacity, and support effective authorizing by advancing quality standards and practices that will serve as models for the nation."

This is the first time that the Gates Foundation and the Dell Foundation have partnered with NACSA to support quality authorizing practices. The Walton Family Foundation previously invested in NACSA to expand the knowledge base and increase the impact of quality authorizing practices.

"We are sharpening our focus around a set of clear strategies," said Richmond. "NACSA develops high quality authorizing environments that result in a greater number of quality charter schools. These influential foundations are investing in that work."

NACSA (www.qualitycharters.org) is the trusted resource and innovative leader working with educators and public officials to increase the number of high quality charter schools in cities and states across the nation. NACSA provides training, consulting, and policy guidance to authorizers and education leaders interested in increasing the number of high quality schools and improving student outcomes.

SOURCE National Association of Charter School Authorizers

NACSA has also works with the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (board members listed here), has received about a million dollars a year from government sources and another million from the Walton Family Foundation, manages to pay roughly $100,000 salaries to 9 employees/consultants, and includes for-profit ventures like the Edison Schools, White Hat, K-12 Inc, and Connections Academy in their membership. NACSA overseas about half of the nation's charter schools, but also act as one of the de facto PRs/lobbying/training arm of the corporate charter school movement: giving advice to states and education departments on charter oversight, regulations, and authorizations all while taking money from the for-profit education sector and a right-wing, union-bashing foundation looking to push more competition in public education. Conflicts of interest? You bet. Insidious relationships? Check. Corrupt snake oil salesmen pushing test score miracles? Boatloads. Just like the Wall Street banking giants and their army of well-funded lobbyists, the major bankrollers of the corporate charter school movement and their for-profit leeches know that it always helps to buy off the governing bodies when implementing reforms.

Duncan Agenda: Segregated Charters, Unqualified Teachers, and Pay-Per-Score Teacher Pay

From today's Washington Post, the amazing, incredible, and unprecendented Arne Duncan makes his reform by bribery efforts clear. We can only hope that most states will tell Duncan to take his 4 billion in bribes and go to hell with it:
. . . .the program is also a competition through which states can increase or decrease their odds of winning federal support. For example, states that limit alternative routes to certification for teachers and principals, or cap the number of charter schools, will be at a competitive disadvantage. And states that explicitly prohibit linking data on achievement or student growth to principal and teacher evaluations will be ineligible for reform dollars until they change their laws. . . .

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Poor KIPP Baltimore, Sighs the Baltimore Sun

What remains of the Baltimore Sun is, ironically, dedicated to assuaging the agendas of corporate bosses who have been responsible for its demise so far. Jesse Alred has some of the details of the Baltimore KIPP story, where KIPP, Inc. pays its Mr. and Mrs. CEO over a hundred grand each per year, while denying that it can come up with the cash to pay teachers what local contracts demands. KIPP is the same outfit that has unlimited tax-credited contributions from Fisher, Gates, Broad and the other oligarchs who use their philanthro-capitalist machines to choke out public schools and teacher unions.

Jesse Alred has some of the details:

The Baltimore Sun on July 21, 2009 published a story about union-management conflict at the KIPP Ujima school.

It seems the KIPP Ujima Village Academy was paying overtime less than the rate set by the labor contract protecting all Baltimore teachers.

The Sun presented both sides in the article but did so in a way to encourage sympathy for the KIPP school.

The title of the article was "Successful charter school cut staff, hours over union contract." The subtitle ran "KIPP Ujima says it can't afford overtime."

The first paragraph ran: "Baltimore's most successful middle school is laying off staff and shortening its school day to meet the demands of a teachers union contract in what is one of the first major disputes over teacher pay between a charter school and a union."

The Sun is balanced in noting the union ignored the contract violation for seven years. The required pay rate for the mandatory overtime KIPP teachers put in is 33% of their regular salary. KIPP had been paying 19%.

Much of the article either heaped praise on KIPP's achievement, recounted its history, or described the potential dangers to KIPP's future if higher pay was required in the future at KIPP Ujima or at other KIPP schools.

The Sun quoted David Stone, the only board member to vote against the union contract's ratification, but not any other board member.

While providing a lot of favorable background information about KIPP, The Sun did not address criticisms of the KIPP model, mainly that it tends to segregate motivated students and committed parents from the rest of the school system--and then declares it is performing better than neighborhood schools on a level playing field.

The article received responses the next day in the form of editorials in favor of the union and for KIPP's management position. Union President Marietta English wrote The Sun created an "innacurate picture" of union activities. She also mentioned the KIPP Director and his wife, the prinicipal at the school, received salaries above $100,000.

KIPP and its allied school reformers are typically flush with cash. Michelle Rhee in D.C. was offering $100,000 salaries to any teacher who would give up tenure rights. Houston-KIPP has raised $100 million in private funds for expansion.

Hopefully the pay increases, which seem fair considering how hard these young teachers work, will become the norm through the charter network and help reduce KIPP's high teacher turnover rate.

Favorable treatment for KIPP, without nuance, seems to be a trend in the media.

Here are links to the three articles.



Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cornel West and Carl Dix on Obama: Accountability, the Privatization of Public Problems, and Class Warfare

From today's DemocracyNow! with Amy Goodman:

    AMY GOODMAN: I began by asking Cornel West and Carl Dix to comment on the significance of President Obama becoming the first African American president. This is Carl Dix.

    CARL DIX: I’m a sixty-year-old black man, which means I have decades of experience with white supremacy. I remember when the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education outlawing segregation in education, Baltimore, Maryland, closed down the public swimming pools, because they saw the writing on the wall, and they’d have to integrate them, and they could not—they were not going to subject white kids to the indignity of swimming in water that had touched the bodies of black kids. That’s how thick this racism has been, and it’s continued on the way down. But that’s just something I remember from my childhood.

    So I understand why people got into it, but I did see where this could go. And see, a lot of people say, “Well, look, a lot of black youth are going to get inspiration and hope from Obama being in the White House.” But then, the question I pose to them is, what will happen to that inspiration and hope when it collides with the continuing reality of white supremacy, male supremacy, imperialist, you know, overseas adventures, that remain the defining reality of America?

    And see, what is coming around on this is that black youth are more and more being blamed for the situation that the system puts them in. And you look at Obama’s last two Father’s Day speeches, he gets into this thing of, you know, the youth got to pull up their pants. The absent dads got to be involved in their lives. You’ve got—the parents got to turn off the TV and make sure the kids do their homework. In other words, the onus for the youth not achieving is being put on the youth themselves and their parents. And what’s disappearing in that are the continuing obstacles that this system puts in the way of black, Latino and poor youth who want to achieve. So, in other words, the people are being blamed, and who better than Barack Obama, the first black president, to blame black youth for their plight? If George Bush does it, people would say it’s racist. But when the first black president does it, it actually draws people into it.

    AMY GOODMAN: Do you share that criticism, Professor West?

    CORNEL WEST: Yes, I think Brother Carl Dix is hitting the nail on the head. I think, at the same time, there’s ways in which, at the symbolic level, to break the glass ceiling at the very top of the American empire, the White House. Powerful, symbolically. Brother Carl and I are saying there’s too many brothers and sisters—red brothers and sisters on the reservations, white brothers and sisters poor working class, brown brothers and sisters in barrios, black brothers and sisters in chocolate cities—who are stuck in the basement. You’re stuck in the basement, you break the glass ceiling at the top.

    The obsession is keeping track of Obama in the White House, a white house primarily built by black slaves. What about those who are still locked at the bottom, when you have policy team—neo-imperialist policy in foreign policy, neoliberal in economic policy—that’s reproducing the conditions of those stuck at the bottom across race? And at this point, you see, you can’t allow race and him being the first black president to hide and conceal the very ugly class realities of poor and working people. And that’s precisely, I think, why we’re trying to generate some motion, some momentum and some movement.

    AMY GOODMAN: Do you share Carl Dix’s criticism of President Obama’s Father’s Day speeches?

    CORNEL WEST: Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. I think that it’s quite telling that he would give personal responsibility speeches to black people, but not a lot of personal responsibility speeches to Wall Street in terms of execution. And when you actually look at the degree to which issues of accountability for poor people—but where’s the accountability when you’re bailing out these Wall Street elites, $700 billion? That’s socialism for the rich. That’s your policy. Don’t then go to these folk who are locked into dilapidated housing, decrepit school systems, many on their way to a prison-industrial complex, and talk about their fathers didn’t come through. And we know the fathers got problems. We understand that. But there are structural institutional challenges that he’s not hitting, hitting head on.

A similar criticism is laid out by Henry A Giroux in, "Children of the Recession: Remembering 'Manchild in the Promised Land.'"