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

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Huffington Brings Subject of Poverty to Gates's Shindig for Corporate Charter Schools

You probably know what I would like Bill Gates to get every time I hear about his manipulative, anti-democratic corporate welfare inspired "Get Schooled" corporate school initiative, and it as nothing to do with getting schooled. Two days ago Gates and his bags of money kicked off the new year-long shindig with the salesmanship of Viacom behind them to sell America's parents and youths (and politicians) on the corporate welfare testing camps that Gates, Broad, and the Walton clan have in mind as the ultimate solution for the black, brown, and poor problem:
"When you bring the resources and the vision that the Gates family and foundation has, coupled with the distribution assets that Viacom has — the role models, the glitz they can produce — it feels like a good mix of stuff that will capture kids," Klein said.
"Capture kids," indeed. In making their pitch for the demonstrably-failed charter solution, the Oligarchs have recruited many, otherwise, sane neoliberals to sign on in support of the "no excuses" charter chain gangs as the solution to American child poverty. The Oligarchs would have American citizens believe that the urban poverty problem can be resolved by transferring children from crumbling, apartheid public schools into shut-down, apartheid pizza joints run by corporate thugs eager to hire non-teachers to read from teacher-proofed corporate scripts.

It even seemed the other day that the Gates's had recruited one my favorite policy people, Arianna Huffington. She had up a post on something that only a Tom Vander Ark, the Elwood Blues of the Corporationists, could dream up: a single payer school voucher system that, in effect, would further eviscerate the public schools, create mass confusion, exacerbate apartheid, and turn more money over the corporate charter kingpins. Does Arianna really believe that a voucher will allow poor and homeless children to escape their containment in ghettos that Bill Gates will not even acknowledge as a problem?

Long story, short story--Arianna is not stupid, nor will she be used as a corporationist pawn. Having read the gut-wrenching homeless child story in the Sunday NY Times, she tore up her predictably liberal feel-good empathy speech she was scheduled to deliver to the Gates party on Tuesday, preferrring, instead, to throw off the rug that has so long covered the elephant in the ballrooms where the oligarchs have previously gathered to demonize everything public and governmental for the problems that capitalist greed has created. So thank you, Arianna. From the last part of her post on how it went:

. . . .Home foreclosures are a gateway calamity, magnified exponentially when they affect America's children. Teaching our kids is tough enough under normal circumstances; it becomes nearly impossible when you add in the instability and inherent distress of homelessness.

So we need to take steps. And we need take them now. For starters, when there are children affected by the pending foreclosure, we need to revisit legislation allowing bankruptcy judges to modify the terms of home loans -- the horribly named cramdown provision. HuffPost's Ryan Grim reported today that Barney Frank plans to make cramdown part of the financial regulatory reform bill set to come before Congress this fall. We should make sure that the banking lobbyists aren't able to kill it again.

We should also require mandatory mediation between homeowners and lenders prior to any foreclosure. Currently, many lenders make it next to impossible for homeowners facing foreclosure to reach them. Pilot programs along these lines have succeeded in preventing or delaying foreclosures in the majority of cases. Then why don't we insist that mediation happens -- at least when there are schoolchildren involved?

In my original speech, I had planned to talk about the importance of teaching empathy to our children. The crisis of homeless students is an opportunity for all of us to teach it to our children by demonstrating it -- at the public policy level, as well as at the private charity level.

As a society, we cannot stand by and allow the banks we saved to bolster their bottom lines, then coldly and cavalierly write off our most vulnerable citizens, our children.

This is about much more than money. It's about our priorities as a nation. The conference focused on the need to rebuild our educational infrastructure. And that's incredibly important. But there is a fire blazing -- the rising homelessness among schoolchildren. And we desperately need to act before it turns into a conflagration.


  1. Anonymous10:49 AM

    With all due respect to Ms. Huffington, it's time to walk away from the farce that passes for the political process in the US now. It's time for resistance. It's time for disruption. It's time to tear it down.

    The corporate state described by Benito Mussolini may not yet be fully consolidated but the US will soon arrive there. It is a development that explains why the oligarchs and the neoliberal schemers that serve them have handed-off their movement to gut public education to Obama and his blabbering henchman Arne Duncan. Just as well, it explains the use of taxpayer's money instead of or in concert with the fortunes of Gates, Broad, and the Waltons to see their designs realized.

    The day of the monkey wrenches is here.

  2. Bill Gates corporate titan or welfare warrior? I think you should not discount the public largesse Mr. Gates has received from the public school system. Every year the kids get new mandates for more technology whether they can read what's on the computer screen or not. This way even if they can't read perhaps they can get their government check and buy a computer game, hopefully one for the windows system. Bill is just not satisfied receiving all the public money he's gotten, but he'd also like some control over the people's money too. I look at Bill Gates as just another Ivy League drop out getting even with the teachers who gave him the boot.